Save. Spend. Splurge.

How and why we decided to purchase our home without a mortgage and all in cash

We bought our condo in cash for around $600,000


The main reason is because we could but other factors came into play as well. Here are a few of my thoughts on the whole process of buying as an all-cash buyer.

I had no idea it would be so stressful

Looking at places, checking, comparing, running formulas in Excel…. my goodness it is a hell of a lot of work. No wonder real estate agents have jobs.

It was almost 10 – 15 hours a week sifting through listings, making appointments, visiting with a very cranky toddler and trying to figure out what we should offer if at all.

I wonder if real estate agents even do that kind of calculation, but we were winging it and surprisingly, nailing all of the prices without having any concrete data to play with that realtors are able to access in their database.


People are absolutely right that you need to increase your budget by 50%

We started with a $400,000 budget, and very quickly in a matter of 2 weeks because we are no nonsense, practical, realistic folk, increased it by 50% to $600,000.

It was my maximum anyway.

I didn’t want more than $300,000 of my money invested in a home, seeing as that would leave me with about $200,000 in locked-in retirement funds & cash.

Basically, you should all create a budget, and then up it by 50% because WE ARE ALL DREAMERS.

We all think we can get the perfect, hidden gem for a low price, where it is move-in ready, not a lot of work, something someone overlooked, but it is near impossible.

Anything that good, is recognizably so, and gets snapped up pretty quick.


A question we got often was:

Why not take a mortgage?

Well as a freelancer, I would normally be denied. Seriously denied the cash to buy a home on a mortgage because I don’t have an earned income/salary on a slip because I take dividends from my company.

…but we definitely qualified for a big one only because the banker knew us

When we were first thinking of buying a place, I was in a bank doing some business and I casually asked about a mortgage and what I would need to do, etc.

I happened to have a banker who knew us via our accounts and saw the cheques being deposited, and she told me that normally without an earned income, I would not get approved at all, but since she knew us, and if I was willing to put down a hefty down payment (which we had), I was individually pre-approved by my banker (without my partner) for $600,000 and at a very reasonable rate of 2.8% over 20 years.

I kind of goggled at the number when I was told.

I mean, someone is willing to give me $600,000 in debt. PERSONALLY.

I asked her why and she said (and I paraphrase):

I don’t see many people with your situation.

Young, lots of assets, no debt, and a supremely high credit score.

You’re basically a banker’s unicorn.

The bank would be willing to give you a max, and even more if you asked — I would recommend you personally.

I am not sure she knew that I didn’t take my income in a salary but in dividends instead, but if I had gone down this path, who knows if I would have been approved or not. I didn’t bother, so I never found out.

Hmm. OK. Well, still kind of not interested in taking on debt, but good to know.

(I mail ordered my unicorn horn the next day.)


Mortgages in Canada are also not great

In Canada, we cannot write off the mortgage interest on our taxes.

Our rates are also not fixed for a very long time. The best rate we can get, was about 6% at a 5-year fixed rate at the time I was looking for a mortgage.

If I wanted a 10-year fixed rate, it went up to 8% I think.

The only “good” rates are variable ones, but that means one year it could be low and rocket up the next year – this is very shaky/risky and not at all desirable.

Americans, I know can lock in rates for a long time, and if I could have gotten a mortgage at 4% or under, LOCKED IN for 30 years, I would have done it and invested the money in the market instead.

But this uncertainty on what the rate would be, the lowest rate, having to refinance every 5-10 years… this is everything I want to avoid especially as a freelancer.

In hindsight with the low rates it would have been better to get that mortgage, but then I wouldn’t have invested the money – I would have kept it in cash to clear the mortgage if I needed to, which means it would have earned only a 2% on the high-interest savings account, rather than investing it.

In even more hindsight, I can see that the crash that happened this year in 2020, helped me realize that I did need a massive emergency fund, and having that mortgage would have meant keeping at least 3 years of that in cash. Would it have been worth it? A lot of headache/hassle and I did not want to start selling investments to pay down a mortgage I didn’t want in the first place.

We didn’t want debt

Call us stupid or naive but the way we see it, we make a lot of money and if we can avoid debt, we’re going to do it.

Sure, we could play the ‘leverage debt’ game and use it to propel ourselves into the stratosphere of borrowing and lending that you have never seen before in your life, but personally, I could not sleep at night knowing that:

A) I owe money


C) I can’t clear it any time I want without incurring fees & costs for lost revenue for the banks

D) I am paying to borrow money that I don’t need to borrow


I’ve already been in debt, $60,000 in fact and I refuse to go back there no matter how simple & naive it might sound.

I have paid my dues, I have stressed out over clearing it and I’m done.

I don’t stuff my money under my mattress for a rainy day or bury it in a can in the backyard, but I’m not a fan of taking money when I don’t need it.

The good news, is that it brought along a lot of interesting insights & surprises

I am seeing it in another light: I am making X% of money on my investment

My rent is prepaid, and without a mortgage, I am seeing it as returning a certain % on my money.

So a 10-year fixed rate is 4.69%.. and I am seeing that 4.69% as the return on my money for the next 10 years.

Not too shabby.

Even if that is not technically true, I am at the very least, saving 50% on my current rent because now I just cover taxes & condo fees.

My personal calculations & figures are all here: Mortgaging versus Buying versus Renting.

We managed to have that money saved for a while

I am tax-efficient personally and also in my business. I only take non-eligible dividends from my company which means I only take what I need to live on, and minimize my taxes there.

Therefore, by the time I wanted to buy my home, I already had over $300K in my business ready to withdraw as dividends (which I did, and paid enormous taxes on that).

No inflated competition like in Vancouver or Toronto

There was no competition in this Montreal market per se even though the real estate market in Canada is about to burst.

When? I have no idea but it is frothing higher and higher each day in major cities with foreign money (not just from China) pouring in and filling up bank coffers in droves.

I suspect a good chunk of that foreign money has been illegally obtained (politicians, shady deals, etc) and this is a nice way of laundering it by putting it into a solid asset (bricks & mortar) in a stable country (Canada).

It. Is. Scary.


Montreal however, is not a market that has ever been like Vancouver or Toronto, and the prices have stayed fairly reasonable, that is to say, around or up to 30% below the city assessment.

There are a lot of great deals to be had in very nice areas of Montreal for far below the city assessment.

The market has been dropping in recent years and we’ve been keeping note of how long properties stay on the market (thus far, 2 years or more for anything over $400,000).

Nothing over $500,000 is really selling unless it is a deal (below assessment or otherwise favourable).

Lots of people are looking to get rid of their big home and downsize to a smaller condo or something easier to take care of so they can finally unlock the invested capital in their home but NOTHING IS SELLING.

Stronger & easier buying position

Our timeline was tight, we only had 4 months to find something & move once we decided to plant roots & plunk down some hard earned cash.

I say that we had a strong buying position but that would be compared to other buyers if we were in a market like Toronto or Vancouver, but nevertheless, real estate agents practically fawned over us the minute we mentioned “all-cash, no mortgage required”.

One guy to whom we made the all-cash offer to, practically staggered and fell down on the floor. He needed a stiff drink once he heard that we were making an offer and it was all cash.

Basically, we’re unicorns.


Again, no one really has that kind of money to buy a place outright at the prices we are looking at (half a million or more), at the age that we are at (early 30s) as first-time homebuyers without a previous home to sell (lifelong renters thus far).

We are lucky in that regard, but our all-cash position was also extremely attractive to sellers and they were more willing to bend backwards to go down a bit more in their price due to the inflexibility of cash.

Debt and mortgages?

They’re a piece of cake to get, considering how much we could slap down as a down payment.

Cash? Not so easy to rack up.

Also, this is minor but people are way nicer to me when they hear ‘all-cash’. Something in their demeanour changes, and they’re sweeter and more accommodating, all the more happy to get their paws on my cash.

Am I just imagining it?

Who knows.

Real estate agents all have the same tried & true, annoying tricks

“Another offer has just come in on the property, so you have less than 24 hours to respond.”

Oh please.

Is that the best you have got?


Y’all need a new bag of tricks.

And no, it didn’t work on us.


We had our own formulas, our own spreadsheet of our true maximum & minimum and we have learned how to value everything down to the penny in an apartment in terms of usefulness to us as future owners.

In many cases, we just didn’t counteroffer because they’d kind of insulted us with their so-called ‘discount’ off their inflated list price.

We had quite a number of options & just moved onto someone hungrier & smarter.

We also had a very good assessment of how much they actually paid for the place, what they’ve invested in appliances, paint, fix-ups, closets, and how greedy they were to try and turn a profit (all house sales are 100% pure profit after fees, & is not taxed in Canada).

What I found funny through the whole thing is that they imagined that my partner was the one buying the whole thing because he’s the guy.

Most guys are the only ones on the deed, not their girlfriends/partners/wives.


I had to tell them I was ALSO on the deed & ponying up half the amount in cash too.

I guess I looked really unassuming (no fancy bags, shoes or jewellery) and too young to have that kind of money.

Sellers who do it themselves come in two camps

The Dreamers & The Investors are the only two who list their properties on DIY Selling sites that do not use a realtor.


They think they can get more than what it is worth, and that everything they’ve done in their home is perfect for someone else.

These are the people who have picked those specific shades of oxblood red for the living room focal wall, lovingly touched and mangled every appliance in stores picking out the most unblemished one, and studied the veins on the tiles & marbles to be slapped onto their kitchen walls.

They are extremely emotionally invested in their properties.


These dreamers, also thought that because they put up a monstrosity of a TV cabinet that was custom made for that wall, would think that others see the value of such a hideous object and NOT want to tear it down as it is a work of art.

Every time we heard about how amazing that TV cabinet was, we’d say:

We don’t own a TV.


We’d have to rip it down, so it’s a cost to remove it actually.

These folks? .. THEY NEED A REALTOR.

If they are not living there, they are not as emotionally invested in the property, but gat damn THEY NEED A REALTOR.

A third party to step in, do the math and tell them:

You need to take a Xanax and calm down.

What the buyers are offering is what the market rate is today.

You either counter with something reasonable or hold this place for another year while dreaming about your conditional offer on a huge 3-bedroom home in the suburbs.

Even if they are desperate, they’ll still refuse to sell it for what they think they paid for it in the end.


Our answer?

“So keep it for yourself then.”

And they did.

The ones who want to sell, will sell. Someone was going to get our money, it was just a question of who.

The Investors:

I prefer dealing with these DIY sellers.

They see it as a physical asset that is losing money or tied up when they could use the liquid cash for something better.

They are more pragmatic and wouldn’t mind losing $30,000 – $50,000 JUST TO GET RID OF IT.


One guy sold his place $45,000 below what he paid for it. He just wanted to get out of the renting game.

Another, was a brand new landlord who thought he could make money by getting people in there but found it hard to find GOOD renters who are clean, pay on time & don’t make trouble, and always lost at least a month a year having the old renters move out, new ones shift in, maintain the place, etc.

They tend to be better of with a DIY site as long as they’re realistic about what they’ll get.

Notary fees are lower by 40%

All cash brought another surprising benefit to us buyers; we were quoted $1500 with a mortgage (as they have to contact the bank), but with an all-cash sale, it dropped to around $900.


No mortgage negotiation BS

No banks involved, no complexity, just cash.

My biggest worry is having enough in a bank account to make a bank draft and to hand it over to the notary to sign the deed.

We can now do what we want

As renters, we have avoided putting holes in walls and things, painting, and generally making anything comfortable or permanent.

Now we can put up our own curtains (automated!), we can do custom wood shelving in closets, and basically settle in to make it our minimalist haven.

Baby Bun will have his own room (not that it was a priority to be honest, versus the cost of a place in cash), and we see it as a family home to keep wall into his college years.


We don’t plan on buying much or over furnishing the place, but I would like to put forward a request to my partner for an Ikea Poang chair.

I’ve always wanted one to cuddle back in & read no matter how bad for the back it is.

Oh I can also FINALLY get some permanent sticker mailing address labels. 😀

..and some solid wood chairs.

😀 😀


  • ally

    Congratulations! I, too, think it’s best not to pay any interest at all, if possible. Not paying interest is an investment in itself, and a guaranteed one.

    If you don’t mind, how many bedrooms does your condo have? What is it’s structure? Thank you.

  • Joe


    This is going to sound negative, but this is awful advice, especially if you value building wealth.

    I am in the same situation as you; can afford an all cash house up to 900k, but I also value doing other things with my saved money. I buy cars and other large ticket items in all cash but at today’s rates it’s illogical to tie up your 700k in a home. I’m assuming you have at least triple that amoun tin liquid assets just in case you need the cash? If not why on earth are your dumping 700k into a physical asset? You’ll sleep fine at night putting down 40 percent and pre-paying your monthly mortgage and finishing early while realizing more in investments with that cash that is not tied up.

    This is awful advice, especially for young people trying to build wealth. You’re an extremist trying to push or view.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      No, actually I won’t. I hate debt, I don’t want a mortgage, and I refuse to pay interest when I don’t need or want to. I am also not working with a steady income and have irregular cash flow, so I’d rather “tie up” my assets as you say into my home and clear it in cash rather than think about having to owe the bank and cover my mortgage each month when I don’t need to.

      Today’s rates will not stay the way they are forever, and even at 4.69%, that was more expensive than what I could get in a savings account. If my mortgage rate was 1%, why not? I’d have gotten a mortgage, and banked my money instead.

      Just because you don’t agree with me, doesn’t mean I am an extremist, wrong, or illogical.

      Everyone works towards this idea of being “mortgage-free”, why not be mortgage free right off the bat and not worry about any of that nonsense? Why am I paying someone money (interest) for no good reason?

      If I wanted to do that, I’d just take out a line of credit.

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Oh, and by the way, I am a “young person” building wealth, so… hmm. Let’s think about that.

  • Livingalmostlarge

    Congratulations. I am so behind on reading your blog. Amazing job. Woo hoo. Why did you buy?

  • SP

    Congrats on the purchase!

    I had the same thing happen to us when we bought a car – they were only putting my husbands name on everything! “Oh, you need to be on it too? We’ll have to start over with this paperwork then!” YEAH, then start over punks!

    Around here, most people here have both parties in a couple on the house titles, unless perhaps they aren’t married/long time committed.

    I’m lucky that we didn’t have to compete with an all cash offer on our home – because a significant fraction of home sales here are all cash. It boggles my mind, because everything is mega expensive. We initially lost to a slightly higher offer, then got it after that sale fell through. It sorta felt nice to know someone bid higher than us, but then we still got the house in the end!

    We had a buyers agent, but we did almost all the research/legwork ourselves…. because as you pointed out, it is kind of a waste of time to have a third party try to figure out what you might like. That seems so old fashion. They were pretty helpful in making the closing go smoothly, recommending inspection companies/contractors, but generally, we could have done most of it ourselves.



      We got a lot of that — “oh you’re on there too?” … or … “you’re paying? OH..”

      That is incredible that a significant portion is all-cash where you are. It is really strange here but I am hearing more and more that it is a move desperate buyers make to try and win the house.

  • Leigh

    Congrats!!!! I applaud you for going all cash. It might hurt now but I doubt you will ever regret not having a mortgage. I can’t wait until mine is gone. I’ll still have condo dues and taxes to pay, but I’ll own the whole thing and that’ll be amazing. Also, I love love love homeownership.

    We’ve been going to open houses lately. In one, a mortgage broker offered her card “so we could figure out how much we could afford”. I declined it and matter of factly said “I’m not worried about pre approval – that’s the least of our problems” and then mentioned something about needing to sell our current place. The timing of selling my condo combined with buying a place together with separate finances and assets seems monotony complicated. We were looking at places in the $700-800k range and I’m pretty sure they would approve either of us for the entire mortgage…


      I’m pretty happy about our decision to go all-cash. For sure we could have decided to take a mortgage but I hate the idea of not being able to clear it any time I want.

      If we bought this place then wanted to move to another place, we’d carry this one, pay for the other one in full in cash, then sell this one and keep the proceeds. I can’t see it working any other way…

  • Kathy

    Congrats on the all cash purchase. Such an accomplishment! We, too, just paid all cash for our custom built dream home. We did have a construction loan for the building process because we wanted the bank to gather the lien waivers and keep tract of the outgo of funds. But when we neared the completion and were getting ready to authorize the final draw on the account by the builder, the loan officer – who by the way was a dream to work with – said when did we want to start the final mortgage process. We said we were not going with a mortgage and his jaw about hit the floor. I don’t think they had ever had that happen before. Perhaps we could have made more money investing and using the proceeds to pay the mortgage but even with low rates, I prefer the way we did it. Total peace of mind.


      That’s exactly it — Peace of mind.

      I don’t want to think about a payment, the interest that is being sucked out of me, and I’d rather see it as “done and over with”, and the money I would have otherwise paid in interest would end up in my pocket instead.

      Congratulations!!! 🙂 Your home must be lovely.

  • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life

    Super exciting! It’s amazing how common some negotiation tactics are, and how effective they clearly must be, that the realtors ALL use them! I wish buying all cash here would produce the same kind of reaction but sadly we are the guppies in a big pond with MUCH bigger fish. Even half a mil in cash wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow of excitement. Harumph. Still, I don’t mind the thought of doing so! 🙂

  • Jules

    I live in Montreal and am debating between a condo and a house. Did any part of you want to purchase a house, to have your own yard and land or were you looking for the convenience of a condo? Where low condo fees part of what you were looking for or did you welcome the prospect of having many amenities in your building? How many condos did you visit before knowing this was the one? Did you absolutely want to stay in the downtown area or were you flexible? Was having good schools for your baby bun in that area part of the equation? Do you have any neighborhoods to recommend to me? It is such a complicated process!


      I have so much advice on this.

      1. We wanted a house originally. We searched everywhere, from Laval to Candiac to Boucherville to Brossard to Ile Bizard, then Ile Perrot. The best deal we found was Ile Perrot, but that’s to be expected, it is half an hour by commuter train to downtown. Unfortunately, we work all over the city, so we ended up realizing we couldn’t afford a home that would be central enough (downtown Montreal).

      We really wanted a yard, a place without noise from adjoining neighbours and a garage with 2 spots, but MY GOODNESS even houses don’t come with 2 spots! We would have to put up a temple in the winter and some areas don’t allow that (Laval I think).

      We then decided on a condo, and realized it would be more convenient as the garbage chute is right there, someone takes care of that for us, same with recycling, the landscaping is done, etc. There are a lot of good perks to that price we are paying each month, and even in a house, we’d pay at least $100 a season to have the snow removed from the sidewalk but not necessarily the driveway or the steps (#%*#&%(*#@&%).

      2. Low condo fees were what we wanted, hands down. We did NOT WANT TO PAY CONDO FEES that cost a lot, and unfortunately that only happens in semi-detached or duplexes or houses that are like 3-4 floor walkups.

      We did not want a pool, or any fancy amenities to keep the costs down low. This is very hard to find. Everyone but us, wants those things. *sigh*

      3. We looked at .. maybe… 50 apartments. We had started searching about 2 years ago and only really found something now. 50 apartments, varying dates of when it was built, amenities and locations.

      They were all a hit and miss. Once we found a building or two that we liked however, we put it on our list and then researched apartments in that building, then started putting in offers this year after some deliberation.

      It was 5 offers on 5 various condos before these sellers accepted. In some cases, sellers who were doing DIY, AGREED TO OUR PRICE but then reneged. WTF. That was frustrating.

      4. We absolutely wanted to stay centrally located, and where we are, it is definitely that. We are so close to transportation, it is ideal but $$$.

      5. Having good schools were sort of part of the equation. We didn’t want to be in Montreal North or East, but the rest of the city was fine, even the north or south shores. Honestly, we did not take into account schooling because it is the teachers who matter, and there are some fabulous teachers in lower-income or “bad” schools. I went to nice and bad schools when I was younger, and some teachers were good, and others were terrible in equal proportions when I went.

      We also figured we would simply help Baby Bun advance himself and maybe consider private high school as he got older.

      6. IT is VERY complicated and if you have just started, it will be a long, drawn out process to just figure out your neighbourhood. If you are still deciding between house or condo, start with that first, but see a few places before you understand what you want.

      Neighbourhoods we liked: Laval but nearer to the bridge & Montreal, Old Montreal ($$$$$$), Notre-Dame-de-Grace (NDG), Westmount ($$$$$$$), Ile-des-Soeurs ($$$$$$$), Ile-Bizard was SO nice, but a little out of the way unless your permanent employer is not that far from it, and apparently Boucherville was voted best city in Canada or something like that very recently. That surprised us.

      We avoided the South Shore (that Champlain bridge is an #*%&(%* mess), so that ruled out Brossard, Candiac, etc. We will just take a train to commute, or if you work downtown, there’s a dedicated bus lane in the mornings across the Champlain which is very handy.

      7. How we started narrowing down things:

      1. Created a budget with a minimum and a maximum ($300,000 – $500,000 was what we started with)

      2. Started ruling out neighbourhoods based on where we would find work and calculating average commuting time (less than 1/2 an hour being ideal)

      3. Chose our top 5 neighbourhoods & saw a few places, first a house in each neighbourhood or area in the low, middle & top of our price range; then switched to condos after we realized it was not what we wanted.

      4. Crossed off neighbourhoods as we saw how it would be to get there, whether the airplanes fly above it and wake people up, how close the train station would be to those areas for noise, where the metro / buses were located.

      5. Narrowed it down to ONE neighbourhood we liked, then we started really canvassing the ENTIRE area of that section we liked for listings on and Duproprio.

      Then we found a few buildings we REALLY liked, and concentrated there… and that’s how we got to where we are now.

      This can all be done of course by a realtor so you don’t have to do the work, but we are suspicious of realtors as they’ll say anything they want to get you to buy a place or to stop looking for you, and we are very particular, picky, annoyingly perfectionist folks, and we knew no realtor would want to stick with us.

      If you need any more info, shoot me an email.

      • Jules

        I want to thank you so much for taking the time to reply me. I might end up sending you a quick email. I have dealt with realtors before but I am also extremely picky and they would get annoyed with me and make me feel like there was something wrong with me. This is a big purchase and I hate how they make it seem like we are buying a bag of chips! I want to make the right decision. I personally am obsessed with Griffintown since it is close to the core downtown area but yet not as quite as busy as being right near Ste-Catherine street. I work downtown and would want to get rid of my car and just commute with public transport. Thanks again for the time you took replying to my questions, it gave me food for thought! I think I need to make a plan and narrow things down!


          They just want their commission because they don’t get paid often. It is a hit and miss in real estate and not a steady income at all, so I can commiserate. That said, they do tend to bully you along in the process..

          OH YES! Griffintown is really great, and if you work downtown permanently, it is much better to be downtown and within walking distance rather than having to commute.

          Start narrowing it down, and if you are set on Griffintown, then focus on it and be patient.

          Email me at any time, OK?

  • Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial

    So many questions!

    For one it sounds like you chose not to use a buyer’s agent. Do you guys have the concept of a buyer’s agent in Canada (in the US their commission is paid by the seller so it is “free” for you to use one)? If so, is there a reason you chose not to use one?

    For two, did you find you were able to negotiate an accepted offer below list price since you were doing all cash?

    For three, do you have a concept of the MLS in Canada? Can you look up listings on Redfin in Montreal?

    For four, what were the things you looked for in a property?

    For five, how did you gind your inspector/what sort of things are typical warning signs in your market?


      1. Yes we do have the concept of a buyer’s agent, but if he/she jumps on a listing by helping us find a place, they take half or 2.5% of the commission of the seller’s agent. Since we hate dealing with people who know less about what we want than we do, we did all the searching and organization on our own, and then just went to the Seller’s agent. It would also hypothetically give us a little more negotiation room as the agent can then cut his/her fee slightly to get the place sold as we didn’t have an agent.

      2. For the places we looked at, no. The demand / greediness of the seller was too high. It is a nice area where we are looking and had we gone to other buildings in not-so-nice areas, FOR SURE this would have sold a good 30% below list price. That said, I think the city assessments were also old, and did not take into account customizations that had value for us, so whatever we offered, was very close to being about 10% below what they had put in to begin with, not including the fees, taxes of carrying the place, etc. I think in the end we got a good deal either way.

      3. We have MLS but they’ve rebranded to “”. I don’t know what Redfin is.. but we used and to look at listings.

      4. Condensation in the windows, water leaks of any kind, cracks in the foundation, garage, balcony, and then what has to be repaired (e.g. fireplaces…) The places we looked at were new enough that the electrical was up to code, but even when things are up to code, we find the workmanship to be rather shoddy here unless you pay big $$$$$$. There are good contractors but like in every business if you don’t have experience or knowledge and aren’t willing to pay them what they are worth, you get what you pay for.

  • Dayle

    Congrats! very inspiring 🙂

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