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Next income property a vacation VRBO?
Old 02-20-2018, 10:41 AM   #1
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Next income property a vacation VRBO?

Mulling around the idea of buying next property within 30mi of Tampa. I see lot's of actives, lots of foreclosures. Typically have done SFH/townhome near home. Recently with buying newer properties the calls have been a lot less.

I am fine paying the 6% mgmt fee being out of state, but any tips from folks who've been successful with out of state vacation rentals? I realize you have to furnish and pay cleaners/maintenance costs, alongside insurance, and CDD or HOA that comes into play.

Extra costs will be mitigated with me doing as much as I can myself, but I realize being out of state this is highly limited. I don't plan to stay at the property myself, but buy income properties I myself wouldn't mind living at, I like to get them closer to freeway access, in good school districts, with low crime and higher and medium incomes. This has worked well so far.

Hoping to finance with Navy Fed but I've had conventional and FHA loans in past so not sure I will pass the criteria.

I figure if I get a 200-250k 3br (I don't like paying more than $140/sq ft), I should be able to instantly cash flow minus my 20% down payment(unless NavyFed approves then I like the idea of using the banks money instead of mine). Would need to rent for $200/nt for 100-150nights to cover 6%mgmt fee, HOA and likely a few service calls each year.

I realize I don't need to box into vacation and at anytime could do long-term monthly rates. Would need to clear 2200-2500/month to be cash positive. That seems steep to me, but if it's in the right location with the right amenities I know people would pay.

Other goal is to pay down loan within 10yrs, I know that's 100% possible especially if I make extra principle payments.

House would be near Clearwater, with a pool, or access to a pool and at least one garage or spot.
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Old 02-20-2018, 11:42 AM   #2
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Make sure to check on the current laws and the local political climate around short term rentals. If the city is about to pass a law limiting rentals or if the HOA has a restriction on them, you might want to look elsewhere.

You might also have to collect Transient Occupancy Tax or whatever they call it in Tampa.
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Old 02-20-2018, 12:29 PM   #3
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Hi kgtest, I have experience in this area and in this part of the world, so I can share some insights. We purchase a single family home an hour north of Tampa back in 2011 and rented it off and on for 5 years before moving down here full time last summer. Here are some thoughts:

1. Market: The real estate market here right now is higher than I have seen it since we purchased. The market here is also fickle. I purchased an additional rental 2 years ago ina blue collar neighborhood for 55K and sold it this month for 85K. Nice ROI, but representative that the pricing swings. My primary home has also gone up significantly, but I don't count that as part of my NW. My advice on the pricing is to be prepared for downturn again.
2. Property Manager: I feel this is the key to success. I had a bad PM on my first go around and ended up with a bunch of repairs that needed to be done earlier and hence cost me more money.
3. HOA: HOAs here are like small companies. I spent a lot of time looking at financial statements and overall healthiness before I bought. Fees can vary greatly. My fees are low, $140 per month, but that includes trash removal, security (gated, but not manned), and cable. I just included that number in my base costs for ROI on the rentals. Also, look at things like the conditions of the roads. The HOA road expense can be huge and if they don't have a proper road fund, that could drive costs. Also, they need to have a pretty good sized liability umbrella policy. Ours has a 5MM policy. Private roads, someone gets hurt, HOA is liable. I called the HOA board prez at the time I was looking back in 2011 to get answers.
3. Florida Uniqueness: There are a few things about Florida rentals. The first is pest control. You want to look at the construction materials closely. Don't buy anything that is stick built. You want concrete block and stucco all the way up to the roof and that includes any bump outs for the kitchen and such. The Tampa area has been hit hard by formosan termites and they can destroy a house in 6 months. You want to look at the termite control, and the termite bond closely. The termite bond should offer termite repair coverage. Second, sinkholes. Tampa area is also known for sinkholes. You hear about the major ones on the news, but they occur frequently. If you google "Florida Sinkhole Map" you should find a pretty good map that shows a 20 year history of sinkholes. Just be informed that Tampa north is sinkhole alley. This brings up insurance. Insurance can be a bit of a puzzle to put together. Your typically cannot get sinkhole insurance any longer other than catastrophic. It is a risk to consider. Lastly, contractors. Finding good contractors to do maintenance goes along with the property manager, but I can tell you that the number of transient "handymen" here is significant, even when they have insurance and are licenses. It took me awhile to connect with some good and reliable workers.

It probably sounds like I have painted a poor picture here. Honestly, we love living here, the water, the boating, fishing, love every part of it. There is just a lot that I have learned about real estate down here.
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Old 02-20-2018, 12:41 PM   #4
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I forgot to mention that we lived out of state (PA) for those 5 years we were renting the property off and on. The off and on part is important. We rented it to snowbirds a few seasons. The 4 month rental (December through March) brought in 75% of the income that a year round rental did, which allowed us to use the place in the summer/fall. Also, the home was single family with an inground pool. Our HOA does not cover pool and lawn care, so that is something else to share. I pay $80 per month for the pool and the same for the lawn (.4 acres). We liked the snowbird scenario in the first few years as it allowed us to check up on the place and use it as a dress rehersal for our move.
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Old 02-20-2018, 05:36 PM   #5
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I forgot to mention that we lived out of state (PA) for those 5 years we were renting the property off and on. The off and on part is important. We rented it to snowbirds a few seasons. The 4 month rental (December through March) brought in 75% of the income that a year round rental did, which allowed us to use the place in the summer/fall. Also, the home was single family with an inground pool. Our HOA does not cover pool and lawn care, so that is something else to share. I pay $80 per month for the pool and the same for the lawn (.4 acres). We liked the snowbird scenario in the first few years as it allowed us to check up on the place and use it as a dress rehersal for our move.

I wondered about sinkhole insurance. I found one property that just had a sinkhole repair "certified" I was thinking hell what are the odds of a sinkhole in the same spot.

Good to know my dec-march calculations were close. I figured I could get close to 100% ROI for the year in 5month snowbird period.

I've heard good contractor's are hard to come by down there. They are slow, unresponsive or under qualified. I run into that problem here too, a lot of guys winging it and failing when the tough problems need to be solved.
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FIRE in 2031 @ 50yrs old (+/- 2yrs) w/ a hypothetical $2.5mil portfolio, 3 appreciated homes worth $1.0mil and rental income to fund my gap years until RMD. Assets will go to an inherited IRA where I plan on watching the investments grow until I die or the trust gets executed.
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Old 02-20-2018, 06:35 PM   #6
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Check with Navy Federal on whether they will require 25% down since this is an investment property (or alternatively if they are going to up the interest rate). My apologies, I can't remember the issue, but we ended up going with a regional bank where we bought our property due to NFCU's restriction at that time (this was last year).

As for renting on VRBO, once you get some regulars, it goes really well. There will be some attempted scammers, but we have been able to sniff these folks out pretty easily.

Re: sink hole maps, there are active posters on citi-data who post links to the various sink hole maps.

Also, suggest you check the flood maps, and look into the cost of hurricane insurance. Pretty steep unless you have hurricane upgrades.
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Old 02-20-2018, 09:31 PM   #7
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Check with Navy Federal on whether they will require 25% down since this is an investment property (or alternatively if they are going to up the interest rate). My apologies, I can't remember the issue, but we ended up going with a regional bank where we bought our property due to NFCU's restriction at that time (this was last year).

As for renting on VRBO, once you get some regulars, it goes really well. There will be some attempted scammers, but we have been able to sniff these folks out pretty easily.

Re: sink hole maps, there are active posters on citi-data who post links to the various sink hole maps.

Also, suggest you check the flood maps, and look into the cost of hurricane insurance. Pretty steep unless you have hurricane upgrades.
thanks cathy for the tips! I need to dig into CD, see what I can find to help me. I keep seeing something about flood zone x. I found a nice townhouse with hurricane insurance, hurricane windows and doors and roof...problem was $700 HOA and a CDD Sure the pool was nice, but just a stall, not even covered.
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FIRE in 2031 @ 50yrs old (+/- 2yrs) w/ a hypothetical $2.5mil portfolio, 3 appreciated homes worth $1.0mil and rental income to fund my gap years until RMD. Assets will go to an inherited IRA where I plan on watching the investments grow until I die or the trust gets executed.
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Old 02-21-2018, 06:51 AM   #8
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I've been considering this as well. I think that luxury rentals is where it is at however. I have a couple of friends who each has two $600k-$1M homes on lakes in midwest. They have about 20% of property value in revenue each year. One manages themselves and clear about 10% after mortgage, taxes and miscellaneous. The other uses a management company and forks over 50% in management fees, but they take care of everything as he is not local.
6% in management fees sounds like the management fee for a long term rental, for a VRBO you usually have 30-50% in fees due to the frequency of bookings, turnover etc.
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Old 02-21-2018, 07:11 AM   #9
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I've been considering this as well. I think that luxury rentals is where it is at however. I have a couple of friends who each has two $600k-$1M homes on lakes in midwest. They have about 20% of property value in revenue each year. One manages themselves and clear about 10% after mortgage, taxes and miscellaneous. The other uses a management company and forks over 50% in management fees, but they take care of everything as he is not local.
6% in management fees sounds like the management fee for a long term rental, for a VRBO you usually have 30-50% in fees due to the frequency of bookings, turnover etc.
+1 Some locales are actually building entire developments geared toward VRBO rentals. They get an area with a 30 nights minimum rental rules and convince the locals to zone the project for nightly rentals.

I've toured one of those sales offices out of idle curiosity. They throw some absurd night rental income number. ( I know it's inflated because we have rented in the winter there for the last 20 years)

At the last second they say part of the zoning agreement is that you can only use booking agents "approved" by the local government. I had to ask what the fees were and got a casual "around 30 per cent" answer. It's just a different form of the timeshare weekly maintence fee scam... I wasn't impressed and the guy knew it and basically laughed and said, there's only 2 units left here and in Spring we are building another one.

And I'd caution you about your snowbird rental income too. Unless you pick-up a prime property right on the ocean your monthly number is not going to be 200x30...

I'd expect it to be considerably lower anywhere in the 125-150 range...Jan to mid Feb is not really considered high season and your renters will know that. We go to St George Utah from Jan 1 until right before Presidents Day and I've never had less then a 30-50% reduction on my rental. They usually throw in the cleaning fee too.

Tampa is Florida but its a little cooler and you aren't going to buy a place on the water. As an example an ex in law has a beautiful home down by Pensacola Beach and has offered it to us for a flat 1200 a month no taxes or fees for Jan and Feb.
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Old 02-21-2018, 08:04 AM   #10
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I don't think you will find my company that would manage a vacation rental for 6%. Think more like 40%.
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Old 02-21-2018, 03:22 PM   #11
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d I'd caution you about your snowbird rental income too. Unless you pick-up a prime property right on the ocean your monthly number is not going to be 200x30...

I'd expect it to be considerably lower anywhere in the 125-150 range...Jan to mid Feb is not really considered high season and your renters will know that. We go to St George Utah from Jan 1 until right before Presidents Day and I've never had less then a 30-50% reduction on my rental. They usually throw in the cleaning fee too.
Snowbird season is Jan.1 to May 1 in Florida and as long as you are reasonable driving distance to the beach you will get decent prices . Lot's of communities with community pools .Mush easier than maintaining your own.
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Old 02-21-2018, 03:36 PM   #12
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Snowbird season is Jan.1 to May 1 in Florida and as long as you are reasonable driving distance to the beach you will get decent prices . Lot's of communities with community pools .Mush easier than maintaining your own.
I agree location is the key. But I've had owners very near Clearwater beach offer a monthly rate for a Jan-Feb rental. I just don't know that you would get 30xnightly rate for a rental. A few owner will knock a few bucks off a weekly rental.
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Old 02-21-2018, 06:32 PM   #13
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thanks cathy for the tips! I need to dig into CD, see what I can find to help me. I keep seeing something about flood zone x. I found a nice townhouse with hurricane insurance, hurricane windows and doors and roof...problem was $700 HOA and a CDD Sure the pool was nice, but just a stall, not even covered.
Flood Zone X is the least expensive flood zone (meaning lowest risk).
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Old 02-22-2018, 01:25 AM   #14
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I donít have experience with FL real estate, but having owned a vacation home in Southern CA, my opinion is that it is very difficult to make money on a vacation rental unless you are in a position to manage it yourself (ie, handle the tenantsí check-in and check-out yourself, deal with any tenant issues yourself, perform any required maintenance or repair yourself, etc.) We owned a very nice SFR in the desert in central Palm Springs, a desirable rental area. By the time we paid our pool guy, housekeeper, landscaping guy, property management company, plus the extras we would not have had for ourselves such as premium cable TV in every bedroom, high speed WiFi, free long distance phone service (all required by the management company), we barely broke even on months we had it rented. And it was vacant a good bit of the year. After a few years of this, we realized if we wanted to ER, we needed to sell the property.
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Old 02-22-2018, 02:10 AM   #15
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Really good advice here. We owned a rental in SW FL (between Naples and Ft. Myers) for about 7 years. Rented it out Jan-March each year. Observations:

It was hard renting it out in the fall/late spring. Our HOA required 30 day stay min. on rentals, so we went after snowbirds and most want after Xmas to late March/early April. (Our Realtor told us it is very, very difficult to rent non-beachfront property in the off season. Hotels on the beach are very competitive during summer months.)

Weather is everything. The panhandle is too cold for many snowbirds plus you will not get the premium South FL rental rates. Tampa can also be breezy. If you want consistent warm weather & blue skies, go south of Tampa-further south the better.

Be prepared to fly down to check up on your property when vacant. I would never trust a property mgr. to keep the property up to my standards between tenants.

One huge plus is that with snowbirds, you charge all rent up front-we required a check 30 days in advance of possession to avoid financial surprises. Our rent was $3700 a month (2br/2ba) and we never had anyone refuse to pay up front for 3 months. We used VRBO and were very pleased.

HOA's are tougher since the crash. I know of many that now demand criminal background checks for renters. And they are aware of owners who "game" the 30 day minimum rental rule (you have to have the HOA approve renters in advance).

Research the FL "tourist" taxes on rentals. Last I knew they were around 11-12% between state and local fees. You want to charge your renters the proper tax, as the state will enforce it on you. It is another hassle to deal with since you usually have to do the paperwork and submit the tax.

Our place only brought in about 50% of what it was costing us-a mortgage, HOA condo fees, insurance, utilities and taxes. We were bringing in around $10k a year in 3 months of rental. We had bought it as an investment (capital gains)/possible future retirement home. We had hoped to do much better, but it is a tuff market unless you do weekly rentals-and it is hard to find the zoning for that unless you are on the beach.

BTW, weekly management fees we found were going to be in the 40% range.
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Old 02-22-2018, 08:11 AM   #16
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Really good advice here. We owned a rental in SW FL (between Naples and Ft. Myers) for about 7 years. Rented it out Jan-March each year. Observations:

It was hard renting it out in the fall/late spring. Our HOA required 30 day stay min. on rentals, so we went after snowbirds and most want after Xmas to late March/early April. (Our Realtor told us it is very, very difficult to rent non-beachfront property in the off season. Hotels on the beach are very competitive during summer months.)

Weather is everything. The panhandle is too cold for many snowbirds plus you will not get the premium South FL rental rates. Tampa can also be breezy. If you want consistent warm weather & blue skies, go south of Tampa-further south the better.

Be prepared to fly down to check up on your property when vacant. I would never trust a property mgr. to keep the property up to my standards between tenants.

One huge plus is that with snowbirds, you charge all rent up front-we required a check 30 days in advance of possession to avoid financial surprises. Our rent was $3700 a month (2br/2ba) and we never had anyone refuse to pay up front for 3 months. We used VRBO and were very pleased.

HOA's are tougher since the crash. I know of many that now demand criminal background checks for renters. And they are aware of owners who "game" the 30 day minimum rental rule (you have to have the HOA approve renters in advance).

Research the FL "tourist" taxes on rentals. Last I knew they were around 11-12% between state and local fees. You want to charge your renters the proper tax, as the state will enforce it on you. It is another hassle to deal with since you usually have to do the paperwork and submit the tax.

Our place only brought in about 50% of what it was costing us-a mortgage, HOA condo fees, insurance, utilities and taxes. We were bringing in around $10k a year in 3 months of rental. We had bought it as an investment (capital gains)/possible future retirement home. We had hoped to do much better, but it is a tuff market unless you do weekly rentals-and it is hard to find the zoning for that unless you are on the beach.

BTW, weekly management fees we found were going to be in the 40% range.

This is great info, but certainly the reality is closer to what my worst-case numbers were. I was counting on Jan, Feb, Mar at around $3,000 and then "hoping" for a possible 6month renter during the remaining 9months time.

I figured if I can do that the first three years of ownership, I would be cash-flow positive but that 40% weekly rate would scare me.

I was always intending to get deposit 30-60days in advance, for one month minimums during snowbird season. Summer was always the x-factor. I'm actually looking specifically in Via Murano townhome. It's not "on the beach" but very close indeed.

I did intent to use it for tax harvesting, that was somewhat almost a primary motive. Secondary, eventually actually moving down there once tenants pay the mortgage, to avoid some state sales tax in my early years of retirement. That's 14 years away though and a lot of tax laws will change by then.
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FIRE in 2031 @ 50yrs old (+/- 2yrs) w/ a hypothetical $2.5mil portfolio, 3 appreciated homes worth $1.0mil and rental income to fund my gap years until RMD. Assets will go to an inherited IRA where I plan on watching the investments grow until I die or the trust gets executed.
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Old 02-22-2018, 09:19 AM   #17
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This is great info, but certainly the reality is closer to what my worst-case numbers were. I was counting on Jan, Feb, Mar at around $3,000 and then "hoping" for a possible 6month renter during the remaining 9months time.
I was told by a rental agent that the 6 month rental is tuff to get, unless you find someone who has sold a home and not able to move into a new one yet. Remember, your unit will furnished. Some renters have their own stuff and don't want to rent a furnished place. South FL is also pretty miserable (heat wise) in late summer.

Personally, I think the ideal situation is to buy on the panhandle, rent it out during the summer ("Redneck Riveria"-lots of weekly potential) and then find snowbirds looking for cheap getaway (rates seem to be about 40-50% less than South FL), or use it yourself during cold weather. But I have not researched it much. Really nice beaches, though.
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Old 02-22-2018, 09:49 AM   #18
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Yes, I think it would be VERY hard to get 6 month renters. People wanting to rent long-term will want a year and will want to bring in their own stuff. Iím curious what type of person you think will want to rent for 6 months when itís not high season. That would be like April-Oct - the worst of the heat, humidity, and hurricane season. Iíd be very surprised if there is a market for that.
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Old 02-22-2018, 11:42 AM   #19
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I own a vacation rental condo on Hilton Head Island, SC. I live about an hour away so I manage it myself. It is cash flow positive but if I had to pay the going rate for property managers (about 30%), it would most likely not be. Also, I suggest you consider some of the other costs you may not have thought of: furnishings that may need to be replaced a lot more often in this environment, supplies (for a vacation rental, you most likely need to supply sheets, towels, paper towels, soaps, etc), advertizing on platforms like VRBO or some of the local sites coming on line, insurance (to really protect yourself, you need special commercial liability insurance...regular homeowners insurance won't cover you). Good luck in your decision!
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Old 02-23-2018, 06:24 AM   #20
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I agree location is the key. But I've had owners very near Clearwater beach offer a monthly rate for a Jan-Feb rental. I just don't know that you would get 30xnightly rate for a rental. A few owner will knock a few bucks off a weekly rental.
Rented a soundside waterview townhouse on Navarre Beach, FL with a dock on the sound for a year (this was about 5 yr ago) .... 3 bed/2b, 2 car garage, built in 1999. Really nice place for $1450 a month. But we rented it from a fighter pilot who lived there while stationed at Eglin & had been transferred elsewhere. It was going to be their retirement place & they didn't want to rent it out weekly. Those type properties are out there ... ya just have to look around a bit. Some people who have condos on the beach around these parts actually prefer to rent them out for the entire winter season at a reduced rate. Too many vacant days in the winter for them to want to fool around with weekly renters. They'll go back to weekly rentals during the high season which is when they really make their income off the unit.

We found that place to lease from; https://www.militarybyowner.com/?gcl...SAAEgLWAfD_BwE So if there's military bases nearby that's always a good place to check for a long-term rental.

Example: Here's a 1500 sq ft townhouse right on Destin Harbor for $1550 a month. https://www.militarybyowner.com/home...MBO426088.aspx

I know of quite a few people who live locally & as much as a couple hundred miles away who keep a condo down here on/near the beach and only rent it out enough to break-even or subsdize the cost of keeping it. The rest of the time they use it for themselves, family, and friends. So if you're buying a beach property with idea of renting it out for income ... remember you will be having to compete with some condos whose owners (some quite wealthy) aren't really looking to turn a profit.
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