How Do Rising Prices Impact Your Home Equity?

DiTommaso Real Estate

DiTommaso Real Estate

One of the big takeaways from the survey is that over the next five years, home prices will appreciate 3.5% per year on average, and cumulatively will grow by around 18%.

So what does this mean for homeowners and their equity position?
For example, let’s assume a young couple purchased and closed on a $250,000 home in January of this year. If we only look at the projected increase in the price of that home, how much equity would they earn over the next 5 years?

DiTommaso Real Estate

DiTommaso Real Estate

Since the experts predict that home prices will increase by 4.5% this year alone, the young homeowners will have gained over $11,000 in equity in just one year.

Over a five-year period, their equity will increase by over $46,000! This figure does not even take into account their monthly principal mortgage payments. In many cases, home equity is one of the largest portions of a family’s overall net worth.

Bottom Line

Not only is homeownership something to be proud of, it also offers you and your family the ability to build equity you can borrow against in the future. If you are ready and willing to buy, let’s meet up to find out if you are able to today!

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2 Tips For Getting The Most Money When Selling Your House

ditommaso real estate

DiTommaso Real Estate

Every homeowner wants to make sure they get the best price when selling their home. But how do you guarantee that you receive maximum value for your house? Here are two keys to ensuring you get the highest price possible.

1. Price it a LITTLE LOW

This may seem counterintuitive. However, let’s look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their home a little OVER market value will leave them room for negotiation. In actuality, this just dramatically lessens the demand for your house (see chart below).

DiTommaso Real Estate

DiTommaso Real Estate

Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price it so that demand for the home is maximized. In that way, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price, but instead will have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house., gives this advice:

“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”

2. Use a Real Estate Professional

This too may seem counterintuitive. The seller may think they would net more money if they didn’t have to pay a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by a real estate professional.

Research posted by the Economists’ Outlook Blog revealed that:

“The median selling price for all FSBO homes was $210,000 last year. When the buyer knew the seller in FSBO sales, the number sinks to the median selling price of $151,900. However, homes that were sold with the assistance of an agent had a median selling price of $249,000 – nearly $40,000 more for the typical home sale.”

DiTommaso Real Estate

DiTommaso Real Estate

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New & Existing Home Sales Climb [INFOGRAPHIC]

New & Existing Home Sales Climb - DiTommaso Real Estate

New & Existing Home Sales Climb – DiTommaso Real Estate

Some Highlights:

  • Both New Home Sales and Existing Home Sales are up month-over-month and year-over-year.
  • Inventory remains low which continues to drive home prices up as demand continues to exceed the 4.7-month inventory.
  • The median price of new homes is up 12% from March 2015, while the median price of existing homes is up 6.3% from April 2015.
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Our Listing: Staten Island Home of the Week: Colonial with a wrap-around porch

148 Clay Pit road, Staten Island - DiTommaso Real Estate

148 Clay Pit road, Staten Island – DiTommaso Real Estate

This single-family, detached Colonial with a wrap-around porch, is located at 148 Clay Pit Rd., Woodrow.

It is priced at $1,299,000.

Built in 1998, the home has an updated custom kitchen with stainless-steel appliances, granite countertops and sliding glass doors to a large deck, according to its listing on

The listing on Staten Island Multiple Listing Service at reports that the three-bedroom, three-bathroom residence features hardwood floors, a formal living room with a fireplace, a formal dining room and a custom-built fish tank in the family room. The fourth room, currently being used as an office, can be used an additional bedroom.

The listing also reports that the master bedroom suite includes a balcony, a fireplace and two walk-in closets.

A full-finished basement features a huge bar, an additional room, a laundry room and a utility room.

Great for entertaining, the home has a landscaped yard, a sprinkler system, a custom-shaped in-ground pool and a gazebo-like seating area.

(Courtesy Staten Island Board of Realtors)

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A real estate agent’s job isn’t just helping clients buy and sell homes. A large part of what you do involves marketing and relationship building. Successful agents constantly promote their business and spread awareness in an effort to bring in new clients.


By regularly creating content you can bring in new clients, maintain relationships with past clients, and increase referral opportunities. How? Check out a few ways you can use blog and newsletter content to launch and maximize marketing efforts for your real estate business.


Most people don’t have an extensive knowledge of real estate processes and procedures. So as they prepare to make a transaction, they go online to research. They look for guides and tips to help them navigate the complicated process of buying or selling their home.

This creates a big opportunity for real estate agents to make introductions with prospects by providing educational content about real estate.

If you think you don’t have any useful information to share through your blog, make a list of the questions that your clients regularly ask you. Then, turn each one of those questions into a blog post. To learn more, see Curating Content for Your Blog.

By filling your website with blog content that is useful for homebuyers, you draw your target audience into your website, provide immediate value, and make an organic introduction.


Creating valuable, useful blog posts is one way to get prospects to your website. Another approach is publishing entertaining, geocentric posts. Play off the reader’s desire for personalized content by creating blog posts that relate to the specific geographic area where you sell real estate.


One real estate website that does this wonderfully is Movoto. They frequently post geocentric posts that readers can’t help but click on. Posts such as “10 Tampa Stereotypes that Are Completely Accurate” or“31 Things People Always Ask When You’re From Philadelphia” end up being shared thousands of times, expanding the reach of the real estate company with every “ike.”

These entertaining, lighthearted posts aren’t directly related to real estate, but they are targeted to a specific audience located in a certain area. Publishing posts like this will increase the likelihood of your content being shared with people who live in or are planning on moving to your area.


Continue to connect with your local audience by creating a city event list. You can publish this list on your blog and promote it through your newsletter.

You want to use content to attract new prospects and engage past clients. Local event listings are useful and interesting anyone in your area so it helps you reach both audiences. Even past clients, who are no longer looking at real estate, will be interested in what is going on in their neighborhood.

Delivering relevant content to inactive clients keeps your name in front of them. Then when the reader or one of their acquaintances needs a real estate agent, your name will be the first to come to mind, increasing client retention and referrals.


If you are going to use a blog or newsletter content strategy, you need to commit to a distribution schedule.


That doesn’t mean you need to publish constantly. You can have a light publication schedule — as long as you publish consistently, such as every other Monday or on the 15th of every month.

Create a blog schedule first. Then, build your newsletter schedule around it so you can include a teaser and link for your new blog post in each newsletter.


As mentioned earlier, you will have different types of audiences. That list might include:

  • Buyers
  • Sellers
  • First-time homebuyers
  • First-time sellers
  • Commercial buyers/sellers
  • Investors/flippers
  • Active clients
  • Inactive clients

Set up your email list with segments that describe the contact so you can provide them with content that is always relevant to them. You don’t want to send new listings to a client who recently purchased a home, and you don’t want to send a commercial real estate guide to a first-time home buyer.

Segmenting your list will prevent you sending irrelevant content to your audience — which will decrease the unsubscribe rates from your newsletter. When readers receive content that is relevant and useful to them, they will be happy to receive your content and perhaps even look forward to it.

People are tired of being marketed to. But when you provide interesting, educational or entertaining content that relates to a person’s specific identity or need, they don’t see it as marketing. Providing such content positions you as a helpful source and reference who people will go to, go back to, or refer someone to when they are in need — making blogs and newsletters a prime place for real estate agents to promote their businesses.


Image by Tom Hoyle via Compfight cc
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New Mortgage Rules May Spark Delays, Frustration

Effective Oct. 3, regulations aim to protect consumers, but they prompt concerns in industry

Mortgage lenders and real-estate agents are bracing for the Oct. 3 implementation of a five-year-old law that has forced them to overhaul the way they process sales.

The changes, prompted by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law, are meant to help consumers better understand the terms of their mortgages before they sign the dotted line.

But some in the real-estate industry worry that the rest of the year could be marked by delayed closings, frustrated borrowers and confused real-estate professionals as they adjust to the new rules.

At heart, the changes simplify forms long required by the federal government that disclose loan terms, such as a mortgage’s interest rate and prepayment penalties. The rules also require that consumers see the final terms at least three business days before closing, a change meant to ensure they have time to understand what they’re agreeing to.

The reform is meant to prevent what occurred during the housing boom, when some borrowers agreed to loan terms they later found they didn’t understand, such as low initial interest rates known as teasers, loan balances that could increase over time and balloon payments due after a certain number of years.

Few lenders now make loans with the most exotic loan terms, but the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which is enforcing the changes, says the new forms will ensure borrowers have a chance to understand what they’re getting into before they sign.

Lenders have spent billions of dollars in technology-system changes and training to get ready for the changeover, said David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association, a lender trade group.

“It is without question the single largest implementation challenge that the broad industry has faced since Dodd-Frank,” said Mr. Stevens. “It’s massive. It involves every real-estate agent, settlement-service provider, every consumer, mortgage originator, everyone.”

Quicken Loans Inc., the third-largest U.S. mortgage lender by volume according to Inside Mortgage Finance, has had about 350 employees working for 17 months to change over to the new federally mandated processes and forms, said Chief Executive Bill Emerson.

“Clearly if we weren’t doing that, we’d have folks deployed on other projects, maybe things that would be innovative. But there’s no choice. You have to do it,” said Mr. Emerson, who said Quicken is prepared for the change.

Despite having a long time to prepare, some in the real-estate industry are worried that technology snafus could crop up in the days after implementation. The National Association of Realtors is advising real-estate agents to extend contracts by around 15 days in anticipation of delays in some home closings.

Some changes to the closing terms—such as if a home buyer wanted to change from a fixed-rate mortgage to one with an adjustable rate—cause the three-day period to reset.

Since home transactions often are made together, as home buyers sell their old homes, a delay in one home closing can cause a ripple effect.

The National Association of Realtors has hosted dozens of webinars, conference calls and training sessions with real-estate agents to get them ready for the changes, said NAR President Chris Polychron. “Are there going to be some blips? Yeah. Are there going to be some delays? Absolutely,” Mr. Polychron said.

Bert Bevis, a real-estate agent in Tallahassee, Fla., said he has taken a few classes to prepare for the changes but is still worried some agents or vendors he works with might not be prepared. He said borrowers, accustomed to being able to make last-minute changes to a transaction, might get frustrated at closing delays.

“If they dillydally, they’re going to get their closing delayed. That’s the missing link. Nobody’s educating the consumer yet,” Mr. Bevis said.

Mortgage companies have known for years the change is coming. The CFPB began designing the new rules and forms in February 2011, months after the Dodd-Frank reform was passed, and issued the final rules nearly two years ago. It intended to implement the rules on Aug. 1, but some lenders and others in the real-estate industry thought they weren’t ready and were worried that the changes could disrupt transactions during the summer home selling season. A bipartisan group of congressmen also urged the CFPB to postpone the date, and the CFPB delayed the implementation date to October.

Now, the CFPB says it will use discretion in not bringing penalties against lenders as long as it believes the lender is making a good-faith effort to comply with the new rules.

Kevin Leibowitz, president of mortgage broker Grayton Mortgage Inc. in New York, said he is still planning to keep his 30-day timeline for getting mortgages closed, but mentally is going to build in an extra week to deal with expected snafus.

“If I’m planning to get a loan closed by Nov. 5, I’m going to pretend closing day is Oct. 28,” Mr. Leibowitz said. “I’m not expecting problems, but you don’t know what you don’t know.”


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Would you accept ‘cash under the table’ for your home?

ditommaso realty
By Tracey Porpora | 

      A Staten Island home buyer put a bid on a Huguenot home listed for $1.3 million a few years ago. After the seller accepted an offer for $970,000, he approached the buyer in private and asked for some “cash under the table.”

“The seller said if I gave him $30,000 in cash, he’d lower the purchase price by $20,000. I thought about it, and saving $20,000 was worth it to me. …So after the closing we went outside and I handed him the cash,” said the buyer, who requested anonymity.

This scenario is one many Staten Island home sellers and buyers are faced with. However, it’s illegal. While Many Staten Island Realtors say this type of situation was more prevalent in the 1980s and 1990s, it’s still happening today.

In some cases, sellers are willing to take part of the home sale in cash to avoid paying high capital gains taxes.

“When you own a two-family house, part of the house is considered a business where you get rental income. When you sell the house, you have to pay taxes on the portion of your house that was considered a business,” said a retired real estate broker who requested anonymity.

“The benefit to the seller is to avoid paying capital gains taxes,” she added. “This happened a lot in the past on Staten Island.”


Cash under the table is often attractive to buyers who have difficulty obtaining a mortgage, and it’s especially prevalent among buyers who own “cash businesses,” said a Realtor who also requested anonymity.

“In the last five years I have had two situations where buyers have wanted to pay (for a home) with cash that they didn’t have in the bank. When they don’t have it in the bank, they can’t show it because they get questioned by the IRS on all the cash they have,” said the Realtor.

“So at that point, they ask the seller if they want to do a (partial) cash deal. …The problem is the lawyers are not going for it any more. Years ago, it was extremely common,” said the Realtor.

In some cases, sellers will take cash under the table and “hold the mortgage” in their name, she said.

“When the seller holds the mortgage, the transfer tax is avoided. In most cases, it’s not a whole lot of money. The transfer tax is 1.25 percent of the sale price of the home. It’s usually only about $5,000. But when the sellers hear ‘cash’ they say, ‘Oh that’s great’,” she said.

While this transaction seems like a scam to avoid paying transfer taxes, there is a legal protocol for which many cash buyers can pursue: Private mortgages.

“There is nothing prohibiting a private individual from giving another person a mortgage for a property. It’s a private money lender,” said Anthony Gatto, general counsel for the New York State Association of Realtors (NYSAR).

“You see this a lot upstate where it will say (in real estate listings), ‘seller financing available.’ If a buyer wants to purchase a property and the seller is willing to hold the note on it, there is no problem with it. They’re a lender like anyone else,” he added.

However, the way to make this process legal is to file a “paper mortgage” with the country clerk, said Gatto.

“Instead of the mortgage being filed with JP Morgan Bank, it’s filed with John Smith,” he said.


But when cash is accepted as a portion of a home sale that isn’t reported to the government, it’s considered tax fraud.

“If they are attempting to circumvent paying any kind of fees, taxes, or things like that and they are perpetrating an official document and not putting down the proper information about the purchase price — like they are saying it’s a $400,000 sale when it’s really $500,000, it’s fraud,” said Gatto.

The Realtor interviewed said, in many cases, “Realtors get stuck in the middle” of these illegal cash deals.

She said her office had a recent situation where the buyers wanted to pay $50,000 cash toward the purchase of a home.

“We were going to have to hold the cash for the seller until after the closing because the lawyers wouldn’t allow it. But then we were able to do a loan where the seller held the mortgage,” the Realtor said.

If a Realtor is involved in a fraudulent home sale where cash is accepted under the table, he or she could face a civil case and could be “disciplined” by the Department of State, the licensing entity for real estate professionals, said Gatto.

Realtors are also held to higher standards than licensed real estate professionals.

“The New York Department of State Division of Licensing Services is the licensing agency for anyone who sells real estate. Individuals who become Realtors take the additional step of joining their local, state and national association. At that point they subscribe to a higher code of ethics,” said Sal Prividera, director of communications for NYSAR.


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Oddo announces $28 million for Staten Island capital projects – DiTommaso Realty

By Rachel Shapiro |

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — More than $28 million will be going to capital improvements on Staten Island this year, Borough President James Oddo announced Wednesday, including about $9.4 million to schools, $6.7 million to parks and $5 million for a new recreation center.

Of the $9.4 million for schools, Oddo allocated almost $3.5 million for technology projects and $5.9 million for infrastructure projects.

McKee High School will get $650,000 for engineering program software upgrades; PS 29 in Castleton Corners will get $100,000 for Smart Board upgrades, and Paulo Intermediate School (I.S. 75) in Huguenot will get $175,000 for Smart Boards.

PS 44 in Mariners Harbor will get $100,000 for additional security cameras; New Dorp High School culinary students will get an upgraded kitchen with $300,000, and PS 56 in Rossville will get $200,000 for a Pre-K activity center.

“Since my days in the City Council, I have always made it a priority to provide as much funding as possible to our schools,” Oddo said. “I always consult with our school principals to determine their needs through our Principals Roundtable events we hold periodically. The money going to our schools is funding that the principals have requested to help them better serve their students, and that they would not otherwise receive if we did not provide it.”

The $28 million comes from discretionary funding of the city’s capital budget for fiscal year 2016, which began in July.

Of the $6.7 million for parks, Oddo set aside almost $1.6 million “as an initial infusion of funds for a desperately needed renovation” of the Berry Houses baseball fields — additional funding will be needed.

Bloomingdale Park in Prince’s Bay will get almost $2.3 million for two projects split with former Councilman Vincent Ignizio: renovating the football/soccer field and creating two junior fields.

Greencroft Park in Great Kills will get $500,000 for rehabilitation and $1.5 million to build a 5K trail in Wolfe’s Pond Park in Prince’s Bay.

“We want Staten Island to be an ‘island in motion’ to improve the health and wellness of all Staten Islanders,” Oddo said. “This means we must invest in our parks facilities to improve them and encourage more Staten Islanders to take part in the various activities that take place in them.”

Staten Island cultural organizations, including Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, the Staten Island Museum, the St. George Theatre, Historic Richmond Town, and the Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art, will receive a total of almost $1.8 million for various infrastructure projects.

Oddo also allocated $500,000 to Richmond University Medical Center for an operating room upgrade and $515,000 to Staten Island University Hospital for breast tomosynthesis technology — a new type of mammogram that improves cancer detection rates.

NYC Housing Authority facilities will get $2 million, including $1.5 million to install security cameras at the Todt Hill Houses.

The borough president set aside $5 million in seed money for the proposed Kroc Center, a large, multi-use recreation center on the grounds of the former Bayley Seton Hospital.

The project still needs millions in funding from the Salvation Army, but the seed money is Oddo’s way of demonstrating his commitment to the project.

See the chart for a complete list of projects funded in the fiscal year 2016 capital budget.

Borough President’s Capital Allocations in Fiscal Year 2016 Budget

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$10 million upgrade to Forest Avenue shopping plaza to start this summer

ditommaso staten islandBy Tracey Porpora
July 03, 2015 at 12:12 PM, updated July 03, 2015 at 12:58 PM

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Work on the $10 million project to upgrade Forest Avenue Shopping Plaza — that will be anchored by LA Fitness — could begin before the end of the month.

The facade upgrade of the now ailing shopping plaza — a 191,000-square-foot commercial complex — includes a 34,000-square-foot LA Fitness in a vacant storefront formerly occupied by National Wholesale Liquidators, which closed in 2009.

The project, which includes painting the entire shopping center in “modern colors” and new signage, is expected to be complete by the end of the year or early 2016, said Joshua Weinkranz, president, northeast region of Kimco Realty Corp., which owns six Staten Island shopping plazas, including the soon-to-be-developed “Boulevard” in New Dorp.

“LA Fitness is going to try to be open for New Year’s because that’s a key time for that industry. The facade upgrades and construction of LA Fitness will start in the next couple of weeks. …It’s a good shot the work will begin before the end of July,” he said.

“We are excited about this project. The center itself has had a tough time over the past couple of years since National Wholesale Liquidators left. Bringing LA Fitness to the shopping center is certainty an upgrade and with the facade improvements and additional tenants it will really put that center back to its proper place on Staten Island,” he added.


There are currently 21 retailers in the shopping center and five vacant storefronts.

“No retailers have signed leases yet, but we are negotiating with three different tenants to take blocks of space in line next to where LA Fitness is going,” he said. “They will be national name brand tenants.”

With many of the retailers in the shopping plaza considered discount stores, Kimco is trying to add a “mix” of merchants.

“We are hoping that with LA Fitness, we will be able to bring a slightly different mix of retailers to the property,” said Weinkranz, noting all the existing retailers are planning to remain in the complex.

He noted that the center offers “blocks of space,” where vacant storefronts can be combined.

“We tried to have blocks of space on purpose so we have flexibility to either rent to smaller stores or combine them into larger stores. There are two vacant spaces directly next to LA Fitness that we can combine to get close to 10,000 square feet. There are also three stores all in a row closer to T.J. Maxx that we can lease independently to get close to 15,000 square feet,” he said.

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New hurricane plan for the East Shore calls for levee across Hylan

By Rachel Shapiro |

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is calling for a buried seawall from Fort Wadsworth to Oakwood Beach as well as a levee and floodwall in Oakwood Beach in its new draft report to protect Staten Island from future Hurricane Sandy-like storms.

If approved, construction on the $579 million project would begin in three years.

The area is considered phase I of a two-phase project.

Under the plan:

  • A levee would be built along Oakwood Creek in Oakwood Beach, replacing an existing levee built there in 2000. It would run inland, crossing Hylan Boulevard. A gate would be placed on the road and close during severe storms, allowing only emergency vehicles to get around it.
  • A floodwall would be placed around the waterfront sides of the Oakwood Beach treatment facility.
  • A tide gate there would open to allow the creek to flow and would close only during a severe storm.
  • Tidal wetlands would be planted as a second barrier between the buried seawall and the water in Oakwood Beach.
  • A buried seawall from Miller Field through Oakwood Beach would have a 17-foot-wide promenade on top of it. The seawall would have a 38-foot-wide boardwalk on top from Midland Beach to Fort Wadsworth. It would replace the existing FDR Boardwalk.
  • Project manager Frank Verga explained that Kissam Avenue in Oakwood Beach would be raised 3 feet and a portion of Mill Road near Kissam would be raised 1 foot. Kissam Avenue, devastated by Hurricane Sandy, would be used as an emergency access road to the treatment plant.
  • In Ocean Breeze, the end of Seaview Avenue that meets Capodanno Boulevard would be raised a foot. Capodanno would also be raised a foot.
  • Nine existing sewer outfalls — open pipes that run water from inland into the ocean — would have gates that would close when a storm approaches, stopping water from coming inland.
  • To avoid flooding if the outfalls are closed, the plan calls for 10 pond areas — open plots of land that would be excavated to allow for more water to collect — and about a dozen flood storage preservation areas — existing open space that would stay undeveloped to collect water without being excavated. Some of those areas are close to the shore, while others are inland. Only one is on the northern side of Hylan Boulevard.


The plan does not call for the state or city to acquire any buildings or houses, with the exception of the existing state buyouts in Oakwood Beach.

Verga said that the heights of the buried seawall (the visible portion would be 10 feet), the floodwall and levee could all be increased.

About $376 million of the almost $579 million project would be paid for by the federal government. The city and state would share the remaining $203 million.

The city and state would be responsible for its maintenance and upkeep, at an estimated annual cost of $600,000.

Sand for the buried seawall would have to be replaced periodically, as would grass plantings along it. The levee and pond areas would have to be mowed and valves, gate chambers and their mechanisms would eventually need to be replaced.

While Verga cautioned that it won’t protect totally against all flooding, as rain events can still flood and cause interior runoff, this project is designed to protect the Island from peak water levels that are 2 feet higher than those from Hurricane Sandy.


Public information sessions will be held next month to review the draft Environmental Impact Statement and draft report. The final report is expected in December. After several other review and approval steps, in spring 2018 construction contracts will be awarded to begin work.

Verga noted that because the project has been fast tracked, it would not need congressional approval like other Army Corps projects, thus saving several years from the approval process.

The project is slated to be complete in 2021.

A second phase of the project, from Great Kills to Tottenville, may not get clearance to proceed, because there’s too much cost for not enough benefit, according to the Army Corps.

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