Analena Mandlsohn

Broker/Owner

Day 1: Remove ~ Get rid of as much clutter as possible. Give it away, sell it at a garage sale, put it in storage, or take it to the dump. Just get it out of the house! You want your home to look spacious and tidy. If you’re opting to store it, you have a number of options from buying packing supplies to renting a PODS storage container – it all depends on how much you want/can afford to spend.



Day 2: Repair ~ Fix everything you can, such as chipped paint, cracked tiles, squeaky hinges, and leaky faucets. And don’t forget to change burned out light bulbs. Lighting makes a huge difference to how a home looks to potential Buyers. You want your home to be as bright as possible. Unless your wall paint is neutral, you might want to consider a fresh coat of paint too – it can go a long way towards dramatically improving the look of your home and is undoubtedly the one upgrade that you get the biggest return on.


Day 3: Renew ~ Clean, clean and clean again! It’s that important! You want your home to look guest ready. Organize each room so that it looks like a showcase. Unless your carpets are brand new have them steam cleaned. If your hardwood floors are scratched, there are some great products (I personally like Rejuvenate) that help fill in the scratches and make the floors look almost new. Also, if you’re a smoker or if you have pets, you want ensure that there are no bad odours. Wash curtains/drapes and consider having couches professionally cleaned, especially if your pets lie on them or if you smoke inside. Store any litter boxes in the basement if possible and clean them at least twice a day while your home is on the market. You may want to invest in scented candles, but avoid strong air fresheners – they only serve to alert buyers to a potential odour problem.


Day 4: Organize the Bedrooms ~ Make sure all bedrooms are inviting. If you don’t already own some, invest in neutral-coloured bedding. Clear the night tables of all personal belongings, such as photographs and knick-knacks. Make sure desk tops are clear and toys stored away. Clean out and organize the closets.


Day 5: Organize the Bathrooms ~ You should aim for a spa look. Clear counter tops/vanities of all toiletries and personal items (toothbrushes, razors, makeup etc.).  Remove all toiletries from bath tubs and/or showers (shampoo bottles, soap etc.). Lay down a new white bathmat and hang up new white towels (not for use while your property is on the market) and a new neutral shower curtain.


Day 6: Organize the Living, Family & Dining Rooms ~ Make the formal rooms as inviting as possible. As mentioned previously, you might consider having your couches and chairs professionally cleaned. Invest in some new pillows and throws and an area rug to bring the room together. Rid the hutch (if you have one) or console tables of unnecessary knick-knacks. And don’t forget the entrance hall while you’re at it. Remember you only have one chance to make a good impression and Buyers will have an emotional reaction within seconds of entering your home. What they experience at the entrance is crucial and often determines whether they even want to see the rest of the house. You want your entrance to be de-cluttered, inviting and free of shoes – store them away and have clean trays for Buyers to leave their shoes in.  


Day 7: Organize the Basement ~ Whether your basement is finished or not, you need to make it look as clean and spacious as possible. If you use it for storage, then at least stack things away as neatly as possible – you want Buyers to appreciate the size of the space and not be detracted by clutter.


Day 8: Organize the Kitchen ~ The kitchen is without a doubt the room that Buyers are most attracted to and that potentially sells the house. Make sure all counter tops are as clear as possible. Clean inside all the cupboards and make sure they are not over full – you want to convey to Buyers that your kitchen has ample storage. Clean inside all the appliances and remove all magnets from the fridge – it’s not a bulletin board! A bowl with fresh fruit, or some lemons and limes adds a nice finishing touch.


Day 9: Tackle the Front & Back Yards ~ Keep in mind that your home’s exterior is a real-life 3D, 24/7 advertisement. Curb appeal really matters and will significantly impact Buyers’ first impression of your house. If you have a front porch, make it look inviting – invest in a new welcome mat and some seasonal plants. Depending on the time of year, mow the lawn and clean up the garden, or shovel the driveway and walkway. Some Buyers may drive by your home at night, so make sure that your outdoor lighting is on. Again, what you do to the back yard will of course depend on the season. In the spring/summer, mow the lawn and clean up the garden, trim the trees, clean the deck, BBQ and patio furniture. 


Day 10: Or Call me and I’ll look after it all!  ~ Preparing a property for sale takes anywhere from one to two weeks depending on how much needs to be done. It is essential that once your property is listed on MLS, it must be as close to model-home perfect as it can possibly be. Allow me to make that happen!




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Everyone knows that any REALTOR® who’s worth their salt, will charge a commission for listing and marketing a property.  From the outside looking in, it seems to be unbelievably easy to sell a house. Therefore, many sellers find themselves asking whether they should hire a realtor or simply save the commission and sell their homes themselves.  The truth of the matter is that anyone can sell a house; however, it’s not as easy as you might think… 


Selling a home is not a simple procedure – it is an extremely emotional and stressful process, involving substantial sums of money and strict legal requirements. The success of any real estate transaction is dependent on strict adherence to procedure as the potential for making costly mistakes is high. Most sellers are unaware of the majority of legal requirements associated with each transaction, which can result in serious legal consequences. 


Basically, you have three options when it comes to the sale of your home.  You can choose to list with a realtor representing a full-service brokerage; you can choose to list with a discount brokerage; or you can simply do it all yourself and put up a custom FOR SALE sign on your front lawn.  However, before you decide, your best course of action is to do your due diligence, investigate all the options, and arm yourself with the information needed to make an informed decision.

            

Taking on the sale of your house is no small task.  Can it be done? Absolutely, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.  At the end of the day, if your house is priced right, it will sell, regardless of whose sign is planted on your lawn. The burning question, of course, is whether a realtor could ultimately net you a higher price, even after the commissions are deducted. Before choosing which of the three home selling options you go with, bear in mind that for every month your house lingers on the market unsold, you incur numerous costs such as mortgage, property taxes, insurance, etc.  If you have taken on another purchase commitment in the meantime, you may find yourself in the unfortunate position where you have to sell at a reduced price, often much lower than what a realtor might have got you even after commission deductions. Whichever option you ultimately choose, ensure that you do your due diligence – not all realtors are the same, just as not all discount brokerages are the same.  Do your research and make sure you know what you are signing up for and what costs you will incur.  The old adage that you get what you pay for is no truer for any industry than it is for this one.  Know what you are getting for your money if you decide to list with a brokerage – discount or conventional – and ensure you understand what you are in for if you don’t. 


For a more detailed analysis of the pros and cons of each of the selling options email me today at info@analena.ca for a FREE copy of my book Getting To SOLD wherein I dedicate an entire chapter to this controversial topic.


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It’s no secret that one of the most important features in a home is the kitchen. The kitchen is that magical space where impromptu gatherings take place, where stories are shared over coffee, and where culinary delights are given life. More than just a functional space, the kitchen is the social hub and the heart of the home. From a real estate perspective, it’s a well-known fact that it holds crucial importance as a selling feature. In fact, it’s not unusual to hear realtors say that kitchens sell homes. Today’s home buyers, therefore, have very high expectations when it comes to kitchens, and a modern kitchen with tons of wow factor, can add significant value to a home.

 
Having said that, if you’re considering renovating your kitchen, before you start planning, you should consider the market and neighbourhood in your home is in and decide whether a low-, medium-, or high-end kitchen renovation makes the most sense. The cost of a full kitchen reno can run the gamut from a few thousand dollars for a simple cabinet reface and hardware upgrade, to tens of thousands of dollars if you’re installing custom cabinetry, fancy stone countertops and high-end appliances. Knowing your market and neighborhood will help to keep you from overspending – you may not get your investment back installing a $100K kitchen in your 2-bedroom starter home. On the other end of the scale, you also don’t want to underspend – laminate faux-wood countertops in your multi-million-dollar mansion is an equally incongruous mistake. Do some research and once you’ve decided on a price point, stick to your budget.
 
When it comes to planning, keep these points in mind:


Think function first. 


Not only do you want your kitchen to feel inviting and open, you also want easy access to the surfaces and appliances you need. Superstar designer Elizabeth Roberts recommends that you create a “working triangle” – the arrangement between sink, fridge and cooktop should form an equilateral triangle when mapped out. When cooking, those are the three points you will repeatedly visit, so it’s best to keep them equidistant from each other. In general, paths within the cooking zone should be a minimum of 42 inches wide, so keep this in mind when planning where to place a kitchen island for example.


Choose an appropriate size island.


If your kitchen space allows for it, an island is a great addition.  Islands provide extra counter and storage space, and some even have bar-style seating room. Remember to keep at least three feet between the island and opposing cabinetry or appliances to ensure sufficient space for doors and drawers to open completely. For a smaller kitchen space, you may consider a peninsula island, which offers the same benefits as a centre island, but occupies less space. If your space is too limited for a fixed island, you might want to try a moveable island on casters instead.


Countertops and backsplashes should complement your design and theme.


When considering counter tops, the options abound. From laminate to natural or engineered stones, recycled glass and butchers’ block, there really is no shortage of alternatives at every price point. Your choice will depend to a large extent not only on cost, but also on design. And the same applies to the kitchen backsplash – from clean minimalistic to chic vintage, there are countless options to choose from to reflect the desired mood and feel of your cooking space. Don’t be tempted to forgo the backsplash. Budget-permitting, it’s an essential feature, as it not only protects the walls, but also serves as your kitchen’s décor focal point and the central defining aspect of your overall theme. 


Install sufficient outlets.


Be sure to install multiple electrical outlets throughout the kitchen, mainly along the backsplash and on the island, so that you have electricity where you need it.


Don’t mix ‘n match appliances.


When buying new appliances, stick with the same brand or, at the very least the same finish, to achieve a designer look. A firm favourite in terms of re-saleability is the stainless-steel finish.  With a little research, you can find relatively affordable appliances that look very high-end and help increase your kitchen’s wow factor.


Base your colour palette on your kitchen’s size.


If your kitchen is small, choose light colours for your walls and cabinetry, as dark colours tend to shrink a room or space, while lighter colours tend to visually expand a room.


Don’t Skimp on Hardware.


Get the best possible hardware for the finishing touch. A modern designer series faucet with a pull-down spray head merges a strong design statement with functionality. Similarly, cabinet knobs and handles are an extremely important design feature, and the style that you pick can really impact the overall feel of your kitchen.
Stick to one consistent finish throughout – such as satin, chrome, or bronze for example – and choose hardware that completements your décor and architectural style.
 
The importance of the kitchen to home buyers cannot be overemphasized – it is the go-to space for everyone; it is the room where ingredients are transformed into favourite culinary delights that nourish the bodies, minds and souls of family and friends and where countless good times are shared and memories made. Given the importance of this space to everyday family life, its ability to provide a complete experience and potentially increase the value of home, your kitchen reno should be well thought out and researched.
 
 



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A lot of sellers have mixed emotions about staging, and many have asked me whether it’s really worth the investment.  My answer to that is to quote Barb Schwarz, recognized as the inventor of the staging concept: "As a simple rule of thumb, the investment in staging your home will always be less than the first price reduction on your home." 


Ultimately, when you are selling a property, you are not just selling a house, you are selling a lifestyle.  Surprisingly (or not), most buyers have a really hard time visualising a home’s full potential, and their only estimate of value is based on what they see.  Your aim is therefore to create the illusion of a certain lifestyle, highlight your home’s best features, obscure the ones that are a little less attractive, and showcase it as a buyer’s dream residence.  Gone are the days of just doing a general tidy up, or even of showing a vacant home.  If you are no longer living in your home, or if this is an investment property you are selling, avoid the common misconception that there is no need to stage a home that’s vacant or completely devoid of furnishings.

In today's day and age, with the majority of potential homebuyers initiating their home search on the Internet, you have to ensure that your property’s photographs and virtual tour is going to grab their attention.  The majority of buyers are very visually motivated and it is very difficult if not nigh on impossible to showcase the beauty and uniqueness of your home and captivate viewers with the best possible visual experience, if your house is empty.  Even if they didn’t see your home online first, when they walk into your vacant home, they will have a really hard time visualising their furniture in there and how it is going to work, since they tend to only see what’s in front of them. 

                        

The harsh reality is that only a very small percentage of potential buyers who visit your home are able to walk in, see beyond what is presented to them, and imagine how your house could look with their belongings and furnishings. The vast majority of buyers only see what is immediately before them; the house as it is, not as it could be.  In order for you to maximise the appeal of your house, you have to create the illusion of the perfect home and an accompanying lifestyle that is simply irresistible. This is the ultimate goal of staging and the magic trick that will get your house sold for top dollar in the shortest time possible.


If you’re thinking of selling, give me a call.  I’ll be happy to visit your home and give you advice on getting it ready for sale. Alternatively, shoot me an email at info@analena.ca and I’ll send you a copy of my book Getting To SOLD –  it’s loaded with pointers on how to prep your home for sale and get top dollar for it.

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Whether you own a 10,000 square foot mansion or a home that feels more like a closet than a house, the importance of decluttering cannot be overemphasized.  The truth is that even the smallest of homes can be made to look and feel substantially larger just by employing a few simple strategies, and in real estate, size does matter!

 

Decluttering

The most effective way of creating space is by organising and ridding your home of unnecessary clutter.  As Wendell Berry so aptly puts it: “Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.”  


Removing Oversized Furniture       

Remember that your ultimate aim should always be to create the illusion of space and present a layout that invites buyers to visualise themselves and their belongings in.  Thus, all oversized furniture should be removed as it makes small rooms appear smaller. 


Reconfiguring Layout          

Reconfiguring the layout of rooms can be beneficial as very often it helps create the illusion of extra space.  If bulky items of furniture cannot be removed, by placing them towards the extremities of a room, you open up space for entry into and traffic through the room – it is all about flow and function. You should also remember that the main seating piece should be oriented toward the focal point in the room – very often in a living room this could be a fireplace or the TV.  Reconfiguring the layout with the focal point in mind helps to highlight a room's best use.  


Converting Rooms    

Converting rooms can maximise space or make the house more appealing to a wider market.  If you have a three-bedroom home with an office in a neighbourhood where there is a predominance of four-bedroom homes, you might consider converting the office into an extra bedroom. Generally, the more bedrooms you have the higher the price you can ask.           


Removing Sports Equipment          

While all fitness fanatics will greatly appreciate your professional state-of-the-art treadmill and weight training benches, remember that the vast majority of buyers prefer space.  Remove all sports equipment if possible as they take up a tremendous amount of space.  A spacious family room where the whole family can comfortably sit and enjoy each other’s company has far more appeal than a cluttered room where the dusty home gym takes up half the floor space.

 

While we are all guilty of accumulating far more things than we need and many of us live surrounded by clutter, no one enjoys dealing with other people’s mess and disorganisation.  Remember that your aim should be to create a pleasant environment in which potential buyers can identify with your home and picture themselves living in it. 


If you’re thinking of selling, give me a call.  I’ll be happy to visit your home and give you advice on getting it ready for sale.

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While you are enjoying a happy marriage, the definition of what constitutes the matrimonial home is of little significance; it’s on the dissolution of your marriage that the definition is of crucial importance, since the matrimonial home is given special treatment when it comes to the division of property upon divorce. There are specific rules regulating how the matrimonial home is to be treated within the divorce process.


So what exactly is the “matrimonial home”?


Section 18 (1) of the Family Law Act of 1990 defines the Matrimonial Home as “Every property in which a person has an interest and that is or, if the spouses have separated, was at the time of separation ordinarily occupied by the person and his or her spouse as their family residence…”  R.S.O. 1990, c. F.3, s. 18 (1).

In layman’s terms, this means that any property, be it a detached house, condo, cottage, boathouse etc. that you and your spouse used during your marriage and up to the time of your separation as your family dwelling is the matrimonial home.

Note that the definition does not preclude you from having more than one matrimonial home, since it states “every property” that you have an interest in. So, for example if in addition to your primary residence, you have a cottage that you and your spouse spend every weekend or the duration of the summer at, that cottage could very well be considered a matrimonial home, even though it may not be the home that you both ordinarily resided in.


What about property that was bought prior to marriage?


If you had purchased a house before you got married and after the marriage your spouse moves in with you, this house is treated as the matrimonial home if at the time of dissolution of the marriage, this was the home that you both ordinarily resided in. In other words, the original ownership of the home becomes irrelevant.

If, on the other hand, you had bought an investment property prior to marriage, that you leased out and never resided in with your spouse, then that property would not be considered a matrimonial home. 


What about property that was your primary residence during the marriage, but was no longer being used as such at the time of separation?


If, for example, you retire and move to your cottage with your spouse and rent out your previous matrimonial home, then said home would lose its designation as the matrimonial home, since you no longer ordinarily reside there.  Upon dissolution of the marriage, the previous matrimonial home would be treated simply as any other asset for the purpose of division of property.


How is the matrimonial home treated during division of property?


Upon dissolution of the marriage, unlike certain assets such as gifts or inheritances that you may receive during the marriage and which are typically exempt from property division, the entire value of the matrimonial home is added to the net family property to be divided equally between you and your spouse. Moreover, if gifts or inheritances were used as a down payment or to pay off a mortgage on a matrimonial home, or even improve a matrimonial home for example, then the exemption would no longer apply. Similarly, if you inherit a house and subsequently move into the house with your spouse, then the house becomes the matrimonial home and the entire value of the inherited house is added to the net family property for the purposes of property division. 


Can you force your spouse to leave the matrimonial home?


During the marriage, spouses have an equal right to possession of the matrimonial home and have an equal right to stay in the home.  Neither of you can unilaterally exclude the other from the matrimonial home, even if the home is not owned jointly by both of you and only one of you is on title. Similarly, neither of you can sell, mortgage, or rent the home without the other’s permission, unless there is a court order or separation agreement to the contrary.   

You may apply to the court for exclusive possession of the matrimonial under certain circumstances, including but not limited to situations where you are a victim of domestic violence, or where exclusive possession would be in the best interests of any children affected.


If I voluntarily move out of the matrimonial home, do I lose the right to an equal share in the value of the home? 

 

The simple answer is “No”, but in reality, it’s not that cut and dried, and legal advice should be sought if you’re considering moving out. While leaving the matrimonial home does not deprive you of your rights, unless remaining in the home is detrimental to your own or your children’s safety and welfare, it is inadvisable to move out. If there are children involved, then it’s preferable to remain in the matrimonial home with your children, until a temporary custody and access arrangement is agreed upon, or you may inadvertently create a new status quo with respect to parenting arrangements and custody. In a custody battle, your spouse may allege that you abandoned your children and are not entitled to custody. Leaving the matrimonial home may impact your ability to gain custody of your children or possession of the home. Similarly, you should also not allow your spouse to move out with your children without your permission.


What if I want to sell the matrimonial home, but my spouse doesn’t?


If you want to sell and cannot reach agreement with your spouse, you may apply to court for an order of partition and sale. Under no circumstances, should you attempt to sell without the consent of your spouse, as the transaction may be invalidated by a court. 


If a court grants my spouse the right to sell, do I have the right to purchase the home before anyone else?

 

If a court grants your spouse an order of sale, you do not automatically have the right to purchase the home (or what is known as “the right of first refusal”) and you must bid on the open market with any other interested buyers.

 

What if we both want to sell the matrimonial home, but can’t agree on a Realtor® or brokerage?


If you cannot reach agreement as to which Realtor or real estate brokerage you will list your home with, it is possible to have two different realtors and/or brokerages represent you in the sale. This is known as a co-listing agreement and is quite commonly used when a matrimonial home is being sold in the course of a divorce proceeding.


If you decide to list with two separate Realtors and/or brokerages, it is important that any listing agreement you sign clearly states the TOTAL commission you have agreed to pay and what percentage of that commission will be paid to a Realtor or brokerage that represents the buyer in the transaction. Given that both listing Realtors will have to split the portion of the listing commission between them, you have to ask yourself how motivated they will be to sell your home and what expenses they will be willing to incur in marketing your home. My advice would be to choose an impartial Realtor that is neither a family member nor close friend, so that neither of you feels the other’s interests are being favoured.


My partner and I are in a common law relationship and we are separating. Do we both have equal rights to the matrimonial home?


Unlike married couples, common-law partners DO NOT have equal rights to the matrimonial home. The matrimonial home refers to a home that is shared by a married couple – it does not refer to any house or property that is shared by common law couples, and such property belongs to the partner who purchased it and whose name is on title. If however, the property was purchased jointly by both partners, or if one partner contributed substantially to the purchase, maintenance and upkeep of the property, then said partner will definitely have a claim in the first instance, since he/she will also be on title, and may even have a claim in the second instance, albeit a hard one to prove.


Can I force my common law partner to leave the home, since I’m the only one on title?


If you hold title to the property, you have a legal right to evict your common-law partner if your relationship breaks down. However, unless your safety and welfare are at stake, it is not recommended that you do so. If your partner were to apply for spousal support, your conduct in evicting him/her may influence the court’s award of spousal support, as courts generally do not look kindly on such action. I would highly recommend that you seek legal advice before taking any action with regard to evicting your common law spouse.


In conclusion, whether it’s the family or matrimonial home you shared as a common law couple or married couple respectively, it probably means so much more to you than just a dwelling – it’s the property you inhabited when you shared a loving relationship, the home you once created memories in and or raised your children in, and it’s usually the most significant asset that you possess. As such, it is usually one of the biggest points of contention between separating couples.  While emotions run high and sentiments are frail, it’s not unusual for you to disagree as to how it should be dealt with. It is therefore imperative that you seek professional advice in an effort to resolve any dispute as amicably and as quickly as possible, so that both of you can move on with your lives and commence your journey towards healing.  


Call me today for a confidential and complimentary consultation.

 

* This blog post does not provide legal advice nor is it a replacement for legal advice – it is intended for general informational purposes only and you should consult your lawyer regarding your options, rights and obligations.

 

 

 




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Condo living has become increasingly popular as a low maintenance housing option, often offering a complete community within one complex, including a wide range of social, entertainment and recreational activities.  Many condominium buildings also offer enhanced security features, such as a 24-hour concierge or security guards, so they’re particularly popular with first-time buyers, especially single young women who may not feel comfortable living alone in a single-family home. However, buyers considering condo living should be aware of certain issues surrounding both the purchase of, and the lifestyle in, a condo building.


What exactly is a “condominium”?


Condominium refers to a form of ownership, rather than a style of building, as some people mistakenly believe. When we hear the word “condo”, the idea that usually springs to mind is one of high-rise apartment-type buildings.  However, this form of ownership also applies to certain townhouse complexes, or even semi-detached and detached individual houses within a complex.

Condominiums consist of two parts: the first is the actual collection of private units, and the second is the common elements of the building or complex, which may include lobbies, recreational facilities, gardens, walkways, etc.  The private units are owned by, and registered in, the name of the owner of the unit.  The common elements part is shared amongst the individual unit owners, as is the cost of maintaining, operating and if necessary, replacing these common elements. Each unit owner, therefore, holds an interest in the common elements of the building, which is usually calculated in proportion to the value of the owner’s private unit in relation to the total value of all the units in the condominium corporation. This ownership interest, often referred to as the “unit factor” will tell you what your ownership percentage is in the common elements and will be used to calculate your share of the monthly fees associated with maintaining, operating and replacing them. 


The unit owners’ collective interests are represented by a legal entity known as a condominium corporation, consisting of a board of directors elected by and generally made up of the individual unit owners.  Each unit owner has voting rights, which are usually in proportion to their unit factor.

Every condominium is governed by its own unique rules, regulations and bylaws. These may be very strict when it concerns issues such as the appearance of the condominium and or the occupancy of the individual units – for example, they can require all the exterior doors of the units to be the same colour; or they may restrict the number of occupants per unit. Other common restrictions include pets, noise, parking and the time of day that certain amenities may/may not be used, such as a swimming pool or gym for example.

The condominium corporation will also hold essential documents about the condominium, such as the status certificate, which contains crucial information about the condominium corporation’s management structure, unit leases, common expenses, insurance, the operating budget, any legal issues or proceedings, the corporation’s reserve fund, and any pending or forthcoming repairs or maintenance projects, to name a few.


If you are considering purchasing a condo, whether for your own personal use or as an investment property, there are a number of options available to you, such as buying off plan from a developer, buying a pre-sale re-sale unit (known as an assignment sale), or buying a re-sale unit. All options have their pros and cons, and it’s advisable that you consider them before making your choice. I would be happy to meet with you and give you all the necessary information, so that you can make an informed decision regarding which option is most suitable for you.  



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