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Top Places To Live in Orange County

Anyone that lives in Orange County will quickly tell you it’s a wonderful place to live.  To buy a home here means you’re getting diversity, culture, amenities, beautiful beaches and an amazing climate.  Our Orange County real estate team specializes in South Orange County properties.

Whatever your heart desires can be found in and around the Orange County area.  From young families to entrepreneurs, retirees, and everything in between.  People desire Orange County living for various reasons.

Orange County Real Estate in Mission Viejo

Family Communities

If you have children, Mission Viejo, Aliso Viejo, and Lake Forest are amongst the most popular areas to raise a young family.  They’re kid friendly with a lot of entertainment options for mom and dad.  They feature excellent schools, lots of recreational activities and a very safe environment.

Orange County Real Estate in Irvine

Professionals’ community

Not far from Mission Viejo and Lake Forest, you’ll find Irvine CA where young single professionals or couples reside.  Home to University of California, the city has top notch schools and many companies that employ thousands of people.

Orange County Real Estate Newport Coast

VIP Coastal Living

Looking for a lavish lifestyle by the beach with a prestige address? You can’t get a better location anywhere like Newport Beach and Newport Coast.  Top neighborhoods all around the area of Newport Beach.  Some of the most desired areas are spyglass hill, harbor view, Lido, and Corona Del Mar.

Heading south, you can enjoy the artistic and laid back ocean front lifestyle of San Clemente and Laguna Beach.

All you have to do is see the local Orange County events, there’s something to do every day.  It’s an active county with business as usual every day, but you’re never too far from enjoying an amazing lifestyle on a daily basis if you choose to.

Each city in Orange County offers a unique style of living. Our Orange County real estate team is a liaison between buyers and sellers.  We work closely with each of our clients to completely understand their desires, needs, and lifestyle.

This attention to detail has made us the most referred real estate team in Orange County, our sellers know their home will be sold in a timely manner to a buyer that will appreciate, and enjoy the property for many years to come.

We’ve helped hundreds of families move to the Orange County area, and what gives us the biggest satisfaction is knowing that our clients love where they live.  Contact us and put our experience of over 30 years to work for you whether you’re selling or looking to buy a home in Orange County.

 

53,000 ‘under water’ homes regain equity, CoreLogic says

More than 53,000 Orange County homes that had more debt than they were worth have regained equity this year so far, according to Irvine-based real estate data firm CoreLogic.

As of the third quarter of 2013, 29,514 Orange County homes were "under water," meaning that their owners owed more on the mortgage than the homes were worth.

That represents 5.4 percent of all Orange County homes with a mortgage. By comparison, 82,586 O.C. homes, or 15 percent of mortgaged properties, were under water at the end of 2012.

At least 100,000 under water homes regained equity since the third quarter of 2009, when O.C. had 130,364 underwater homes.

That's a 77 percent decrease in under water homes. The decline in under water homes accelerated in the past year in conjunction with rising home prices. More than 67,500 homes regained equity in the year ending in September.

Nationwide, 6.4 million homes were under water in the third quarter, or 13 percent of all homes with a mortgage, CoreLogic reported. By comparison, more than 11 million homes – or almost a fourth of mortgaged U.S. residences – were under water at the end of 2009.

CoreLogic reported that more than 3 million U.S. homeowners regained equity this year alone. "Rising home prices continued to help homeowners regain their lost equity in the third quarter of 2013," said CoreLogic Chief Economist Mark Fleming.

The latest report showed also:

•California had 894,560 under water homes in the third quarter, or 13 percent of mortgaged homes.

•Nevada was the state with the highest percentage of mortgaged properties under water: 32.2 percent. •Orlando had the highest percentage of under water homes among the 25 largest U.S. metro areas: 32.3 percent.

Add economical living space with an outdoor room


(BPT) – Adding living space to your home can be an expensive prospect. However, creating an outdoor room is a budget-friendly option that gives you more square footage, as well as additional opportunities to enjoy the season. As an extension of the home, outdoor rooms with decks or pergolas can be personalized to truly bring indoor comforts outside for relaxation and entertaining.

Prepare your outdoor space

Before embarking on designing an outdoor room, start with a clean slate by making necessary repairs. Jason Ringling, director of marketing for Red Devil, says outdoor fix-ups are on the agenda because of the unusual weather the country has experienced, including wind and flood damage. Outdoor structures have particularly taken a beating, with damage to wood structures and cracked concrete.

“Homeowners can tackle these jobs with long-lasting quality adhesives and sealants,” says Ringling. “There are new, environmentally friendly construction adhesives on the market, which can help repair damaged decks, concrete, outdoor furniture, play sets and more.”

Stand up to Mother Nature

If you start with cellular PVC as a wood replacement, you can add longevity and low-maintenance to pergolas and other outdoor structures. Those that come in easy-to-assemble kits make it even easier to have a stylish extension to your home. According to the experts at Walpole Outdoors, to match your home’s style, look for variations in pergola design such as straight or arched tops, and round or square columns in many sizes.

“For a true ‘outdoor room’ feeling, a retractable, weather-resistant fabric canopy can provide shade and shelter whenever the weather changes, so homeowners can always plan outdoor occasions with confidence,” says Walpole president Lou Maglio.

Affordable, natural looks that endure

Decks are another easy way to extend living space and with new alternative materials, it’s easy to save on maintenance without sacrificing style. One advancement in composite decking technology features a “cap” or protective outer layer that looks like real hardwood.

“Today’s deck trends show that homeowners are looking for deck styles and colors that strongly resemble the earthy tones found in nature,” says Carey Walley, vice president of marketing for TimberTech, a leading composite decking manufacturer. As an example, the company’s new Earthwood Evolutions Terrain is an affordable hardwood-look composite that is durable, moisture-resistant and accepts concealed fasteners. Walley also notes that a new interactive Q&A forum called Straight Talk is a great place to investigate common deck topics and to ask any deck question that will be answered by experts.

De-clutter your deck space

When designing that special outdoor space, start by de-cluttering the deck. Look for the latest clever, space-saving solutions that help make the most of your deck space. One way to cut costs and improve the view is to use fewer posts, according to Mike Gori, director of product management, AZEK Building Products.

“We’ve engineered a durable railing system that spans 10 feet between posts, which requires fewer posts. This creates a less cluttered look, clearer views and substantial cost savings,” he says. In addition, he suggests hide-away storage bins that make use of the space under the deck to store items like umbrellas and pool toys. “The lid is discreetly flush with the deck surface, eliminating those large plastic bins that obscure the view and take up valuable deck space.”

With these tips, it’s easy to find functional, beautiful and affordable options for making your outdoor space your very own.

Courtesy of BPT

Five golden choices for investors

Five%20golden%20choices%20for%20investorsIn the dark about how to invest in gold? Despite gold’s increasing value and popularity, many folks don’t know where to get started.
If that includes you, you’re not alone. A recent survey shows that nearly half of US investors don’t believe they’re knowledgeable enough about the precious metal to make a decision about adding gold to their portfolios. The World Gold Council highlights these five options to get you started: 
1.  Gold Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
Since 2004, U.S. investors have been able to buy Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) backed by physical gold through their brokerage accounts on a regulated stock exchange, just like a share of a company’s stock. Ownership of gold ETF shares provides investors with a vehicle that reflects the performance of the price of gold bullion, less expenses of the ETF.  With these gold ETFs, individuals do not need to physically store gold, so no need for a safe or safety deposit box. Different types of gold ETFs are available on the market but not all are 100 percent backed by physical gold, so read the prospectus carefully and ask your financial adviser to help you select the one that best suits your needs. 
2. Gold mining stocks
With this option, you are investing in a gold-mining company, rather than gold bullion. Depending on the company, you may be able to generate income from dividends. While the value of gold stocks has historically been closely tied to the price of gold itself, other factors can determine the value of the individual companies. More than 300 gold-mining companies are listed and publicly traded in the U.S. 
3. Gold Accumulation Plans (GAPs) 
Similar to a conventional accumulation plan, GAPs allow investors to set aside a fixed amount of money every month in order to purchase gold on various days. This cost averaging cushions investors from short-term variations in the price of gold. When the account closes, investors could have one or more of the following alternatives: receiving bullion bars or jewelry or simply selling the gold for cash.
4. Gold bars
Gold bars range in size from just a few grams to the 400 ounce London Good Delivery bars most people have only seen in the movies. There are many different refineries that produce gold bars and most companies that sell gold will offer a variety of sizes to suit various budgets.  
5. Gold coins
Issued by governments around the world, gold bullion coins are a popular choice for investors. Their value is primarily based on their fine gold content. Bullion coins differ from numismatic or collectable coins, which are valued on rarity, design and finish rather than their gold content. Many mints will offer “proof” versions of the bullion coins at a premium to the gold content for collectors and those looking for an heirloom gift for milestone celebrations such as a birthday or wedding. American Eagle coins are a common form of bullion coin in the U.S. and other popular bullion coins that are widely available include the Gold American Buffalo, Canadian Maple Leaf, South African Kruggerrand and Chinese Panda and Austrian Philharmonic.
Where to buy: Both bullion coins and gold bars may be purchased online or by phone from companies that specialize in precious metals.
“There are a number of ways to invest in gold and each can play its own role in your portfolio. Owning an ETF, bars or coins and mining shares may be viewed as complementary investments,” says Juan Carlos Artigas, Global Head of Investment Research at the World Gold Council.
The World Gold Council (www.gold.org) provides useful information on why, how and where to invest in gold.
The information provided is for educational purposes only. Consult your financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Courtesy of BPT

Cost-cutting techniques to fit your lifestyle

(BPT) – These days, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the multitude of sources offering money-saving tips. It seems like everyone has a hot new tip or an old tried-and-true method you just have to try. Unfortunately, trying to keep up with them all can actually be counter-productive to your savings goal because you aren’t able to dedicate enough time and effort to see substantial results.

So how do you choose which tip to focus on? The answer is easy. Look at your personal lifestyle to figure out the savings tactic that will work best for you.

* For the serial over-achiever

Sure, you probably have the energy to coupon “til the cows come home,” but that is not the most efficient use of your time. Try setting a goal. Your first step should be to figure out how much you would like to save each month so you can stop yourself once you hit that goal. Of course saving more than what you estimated would be great, but it’s important to maintain a healthy coupon/life balance.

And don’t be afraid to multitask! “When I was working full time, I would use my breaks and lunch to cut out the coupons I would need to shop and sometimes also shop on my lunch hour,” says Jennifer Williams, founder of “My Frugal Wife” blog. Cutting coupons while you eat or while the kids are doing homework means you aren’t skipping important parts of your day to get couponing done.

The important thing is to manage the time you spend couponing so that it does not add stress to your already-busy life.

* For the rewards program skeptic

You may think that the concept of saving is all well and good, but when it comes to the practice of participating in rewards programs you are not sure that the effort matches the savings.

This can be true, especially if you try to juggle too many programs at once. Participating in more rewards programs does not necessarily mean more savings. In fact, there are an average of 21.9 rewards program memberships per household in the U.S., according to the 2013 Colloquy Loyalty Census, yet individuals are only active in 44 percent of the rewards programs they are signed up for.

Save more by focusing your efforts on the right program for you. “Find a program that allows you to save on your most frequent purchases,” says Heather Brickell, founder of “My Sweet Savings” blog. “A rewards program such as the Fuel Rewards Network(TM) program – or FRN(TM) program – is valuable because your savings pay off at the pump – one of the hardest places to save money or get a discount.”

The FRN program allows you to redeem rewards for fuel savings at participating Shell stations. There are multiple ways to earn rewards through everyday purchases of things like food, clothing and household goods.

Participating in a program that allows you to earn rewards without having to step outside of your normal routine can help you save regularly without the stress.

* For the on-the-go lifestyle

Don’t have time to spend hours cutting coupons or scouring the Internet for deals? No problem. If you are constantly on the go, but still looking to save money, Brickell suggests looking into downloadable smartphone apps that will allow you to save money on everything from clothing, dining out, and travel. “Apps are easy to use and many retailers and even restaurants will scan discount codes right from your smartphone,” says Brickell.

Download a few choice apps and begin scanning them whenever you have a free moment in your day. It’s quick and easy because, let’s face it, your phone never leaves your side.

Just remember, if you are doing something – anything – to save, then count that as a success! You can create a consistent stream of savings without having to spend all of your time worrying about making it happen. For example, Wayne Wesley, an everyday consumer from Florida who commutes 60 miles per day for work, also takes advantage of the FRN program’s ease of use. “I am not the kind of person who would use coupons or spends a lot of time hunting for bargains,” says Wesley, who estimates he’s saved more than $500 using the FRN program over the past year. “But I earn rewards at my grocery store each week and usually save between 35 and 95 cents per gallon when I fill up. It’s an easy way I save money each month without much effort.”

The bottom line is that you can cut costs and save in a way that works for you. Don’t let time or multiple rewards programs and savings tactics overwhelm you; just pick the one that is right for you and stick with it. The savings can really add up over time!

Courtesy of BPT

5 Reasons to Sell Before Spring

Many sellers feel that the spring is the best time to place their home on the market as buyer demand increases at that time of year. However, the fall and winter have their own advantages. Here are five reasons to sell now.

Only Serious Buyers Are Out

At this time of year, only those purchasers who are serious about buying a home will be in the marketplace. You and your family will not be bothered and inconvenienced by mere 'lookers'. The lookers are at the mall or online doing their holiday shopping.

There Is Far Less Competition

Housing supply always shrinks dramatically at this time of year. The choices for buyers will be limited. Don't wait until the spring when all the other potential sellers in your market will put their homes up for sale.

The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the 2013 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks have been inundated with both purchase and refinancing loan requests. Both of these will slow in the winter cutting timelines and the frustration these delays cause both buyers and sellers.

There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 25% from now to 2018. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with historically low interest rates right now. There is no guarantee rates will remain at these levels in years to come.

It's Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and decide whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should? You already know the answers to the questions we just asked. You have the power to take back control of the situation by pricing your home to guarantee it sells. The time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire. That is what is truly important.

by The KCM Crew on November 19, 2013

How to flip a house using project managers


With framing subcontractors coming in as scheduled, I all of a sudden realized that the floor that they would be framing over had some very serious issues.

Pounding on my cell phone to find someone… Anyone to help me on literally zero notice, I realized the only person I had that could do it… Was me.

So I dusted off the flooring toolbox, started pulling out the old flooring tools and began ripping up floorboards with my trusty Wonderbar.

Not having done this kind of work in a few years, one of the boards I ripped up broke loose and smashed me square in the jaw.

Dazed and bloodied… And luckily not having to call the emergency crew… I realized something…

When you’re first learning how to flip a house, there’s lots of different ways to do it.

Especially when it comes to the rehab, there are a number of different paths to take:

Some like to do all the rehab work themselves.

Some don’t want to do any of the rehab work themselves.

And some pick the middle path, doing some work and then having others do the rest.

Which way is best?

How to Flip A House – Do It Yourself?

Personally, I don’t mind doing some of the rehab work…just as long as I don’t have to do all of it.

Unless I feel the overwhelming need to pound a sledgehammer through a few walls in the demo… I’d much rather pay someone else to do it.

Personally, I’d rather spend my time looking for the next deal.

I used to be a flooring guy for years, so if I have to do some of the work on a rehab, I will. And if my experience this past week tells me anything, I think its best to stick to overseeing the rehab work instead of doing the rehab work.

However, when you’re learning the basics of how to flip a house, there’s no doubt that getting your hands dirty on your first house flip is a great way of really getting to know the business.

Doing at least some of the rehab work yourself to start off isn’t a bad idea… But then getting others to do it for you afterward is a great way to scale things… As well as limit potential trips to the Emergency Room.

The Pros and Cons of Hiring a GC to Do Your Flips

In an ideal world, hiring a general contractor (or “GC”) to do all your rehab work is the best possible way to go when you’re house flipping.

But that’s only if you can make the numbers work.

It’s certainly nice to have one single point of contact to do all the dirty work for your house flips and rehabs while you’re out looking for the next deal or rounding up potential buyers.

This way is far easier on you (and your chin), especially if you’re doing it part time or have other real estate deals to tend to.

On the flip side, in many areas of the country it’s extremely difficult to get a contractor to do the work for you and still stick to your 70% Rule in hopes of getting the ARV and profit margin to make the deal work.

The issue is that the really good general contractors out there tend to use the same subcontractors and don’t bid out each job they do. They have “their guys” who do the subcontracting and they’re oftentimes reluctant to try to negotiate with them.

On top of that, remember that a GC adds on 10-20% over what his subcontractors charge him. There’s nothing wrong with that because everyone needs to make a profit here.

And believe me, on many jobs, your GC really earns that wage!

A good tip here is if you are dead set on using a specific contractor, you might be able to negotiate a lower management percent or even none at all for a percentage of the profits on the deal. General contractors also can be good sources of potential funding as well.

If you are just learning how to flip a house…everything is negotiable in house flipping!

Should I Do The Rehab Myself?

To answer this question, it’s going to depend on a lot of different factors, but the biggest factor of all is you.

For me, it was a logical step to do the rehab on my first few house flips. As I said before, I was in the building trades full time and was used to being on job sites. I love construction and to me, turning a run-down shack into a beautiful place to live is one of the coolest things around.

So I went out and got my state contractor’s license, ready to GC my first house flip all on my own.

As I look back on it, despite the challenges, it was great experience. Primarily because I could see firsthand how the whole operation runs. This on the job experience has really helped me in my house flipping career – so much so that when I hired the job out in the future, I knew exactly how to set the rules and how to follow the whole house flipping process.

There’s nothing like firsthand experience to teach you that.

In House Flipping…Know Thyself

Do you absolutely need to do it this way?

I don’t think so. But think of general contracting your first house flip as a bit of “on the job training”. It’s not necessary – but it’s surely an experience you’ll refer back to many times in your house flipping and real estate investing career.

If you have a full time job and are rehabbing one house at a time, then you may very well have the time, but this largely depends on the kind of job you have as well.

If you have a fair amount of flexibility with your job hours, then perhaps it may work.

If you’re tied to a desk all day and an hour commute away from the geographic area you do your flip in, then perhaps not.

However, only you can answer that.

Do understand this though; in order to effectively manage any real estate investing rehab, you will have to be available to manage the sub-contractors by phone, early in the mornings or in the evenings. And if you have other things on your plate, like a job, a wife, kids… This gets tiresome.

There will be times when you’ll need to go on site and if you are on a business trip a thousand miles away at the time, it might be tough to pull this off.

For me, my flooring business allowed me the flexibility to stop in on the job site and check on things whenever I needed so I was fortunate enough to have the flexibility.

You on the other hand, may not.

Ideally, if you have enough money saved up to quit your day job and become a full time Real Estate Investor then this will be much easier for you to manage. Plus at that point, it IS your job!

So if you’re not sure if being the general contractor is right for you, then you may want to try it to see if you like it.

But if you’d rather play it a bit safer, then there is another choice that may be right for you.

Behind Door Number 3: The Project Manager

Short of hiring a full blown general contractor, you could use a project manager instead. We’ve found this to be a very effective way to rehab house flips, especially where hiring a GC is cost prohibitive.

For example, you could approach a smaller, hands-on type of licensed carpenter who has experience working with other subcontractors. You could then negotiate a fee based on his involvement in the project.

I’ve found carpenters and other subs very receptive to this arrangement. On top of the money they make doing the other work on the property, he’s getting paid an override on how well he manages others.

Like I said before, everything is negotiable in real estate investing and house flipping, so be creative here. And remember it’s about “win-win”.

For example, you could do any number of these financial arrangements:

    Flat Fee: Simple enough. Pay a flat fee to oversee the job. No real creativity here.

    Partnership: Work out a partnership or an equity stake in the property. This is a very creative way to handle things. I wouldn’t suggest this strategy on your first flip, but its one to consider.

    Percentage: Pay a percentage of the overall job that may be smaller than a typical general contractors cut. If he’s good, this could really save you.

    Flat Fee and Performance Bonus: Pay the project manager a project management fee of around $2,000 and then assign bonuses for meeting timelines and budgets. The bonuses really keep the project manager motivated because he has a skin in the game. You pay some money upfront, but even more when they hit performance metrics.

Whatever you do though, do your best to establish a fee that works for the both of you. The fee you pay is largely dependent on your location and the going rates that project managers are typically paid.

You can get this kind of information from your real estate investment mentors, from other real estate investors in the area, or at your local REIA meetings.

Where to Find Project Managers

We’ve found that finding someone young, hungry and motivated is the best profile for success. It may differ for you, but these are the kind of guys (it’s usually guys here ladies) who will put in the extra hours and get things moving in the right direction. Young, ambitious and smart is always a good profile to look for.

There may be some ideal project manager candidates in our backyard at technical colleges. These newly graduated students are typically hungry and have a good background that could be ideal for your project. In some cases, if you find a good one and your budget allows it, put them on your payroll and keep them working for you full time.

More often than not, freshly minted students for what they may lack in “real world experience” may more than make up for it with all the background knowledge from school in addition to the computer and technical knowledge for running budgets and keeping things humming smoothly.

Of course, before you go and hire a full time person to manage your flips, make sure you’re in the position to afford it as well as have enough projects going on to keep him or her busy on a regular basis.

So whether you do the rehab on your own, hire a general contractor or get a project manager, you can do well and make money any of these three ways.

Author: Mike LaCava

Mike’s Website: http://www.houseflippingschool.com

Small business, big opportunities: Tips for women focused on managing their small businesses

Tips%20for%20women%20focused%20on%20managing

It’s no secret small businesses are essential to the economy. The latest U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners reported women owned 7.8 million businesses and accounted for 28.7 percent of all businesses nationwide. These small business firms generated $1.2 trillion in receipts. Given the challenges facing small businesses, now more than ever women are navigating work-life demands, business management and talent retention issues.

In fact, women are more concerned about virtually every economic factor than men, including the effectiveness of government leaders (76 percent vs. 73 percent), commodities prices (76 percent vs. 70 percent) and healthcare costs (75 percent vs. 66 percent), says the recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, a semi-annual study exploring the concerns, aspirations and perspectives of small business owners nationwide.
The report also revealed that running a small business causes owners – both men and women – three times as much stress as raising children and twice as much stress as maintaining a healthy relationship with a spouse or partner. However, women do not give themselves the free time that men do – 62 percent compared to 53 percent.
“Small business owners are constantly making sacrifices and prioritizing the success of their business over other personal priorities in their lives, but there are some simple ways to maintain a better work-life balance,” says Steve Strauss, small business expert and USA TODAY columnist.  
Strauss offers the following tips to managing the daily juggling act of owning a small business: 
* Build a diverse support system: While a vast majority of small business owners need some level of financial guidance, often in the form of occasional or ongoing expert advice, the report finds more women than men engage an accountant/bookkeeper (79 percent vs. 70 percent), a financial advisor (73 percent vs. 65 percent) or banker (52 percent vs. 47 percent) to help them run their businesses. Resources such as these can expand your network, provide essential professional support and keep you current on relevant trends.
* Use tech tools and resources available to you: According to the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report women are actually more likely than men to view technology as a useful cash management tool. For example, female small business owners are more likely to view online banking (78 percent vs. 67 percent of their male counterparts) or direct payments (46 percent vs. 35 percent of males) as helpful in managing their small business.  Electronic invoicing, online payroll services and mobile banking are other resources that can help. If you’re not already using these types of tools, be sure to speak with your financial institution about how to better manage your finances and improve efficiency. 
* Boost your competitive edge in the war for talent: The financial benefits you offer current and potential employees can be a deal maker … or deal breaker. The good news is that small businesses now have access to 401(k) and IRA products designed specifically for their needs and budgets. For example, Merrill Edge Small Business 401(k) is designed for small businesses’ unique needs and offers a simplified, easy-to-manage retirement plan with lower costs than many traditional 401(k) plans, enabling owners to provide an important benefit to their employees. Offering these benefits is more important for women particularly when coupled with the cultural and work-life balance perks that often make small businesses attractive to employees, and they can boost your competitive edge.  
With the right expertise and tools, small business owners can be equipped to improve their work-life balance. 

On the move? Use these packing tips and tricks

(BPT) – Let’s face it – moving is hard. Along with the stress of leaving a familiar place and adapting to new surroundings, moving means packing, loading, transporting, unloading and unpacking everything you own – as well as everything you forgot you owned.

While relocation may never be completely carefree, there are ways to ease the anxiety. A well-thought-out approach to boxing up belongings can help simplify the moving process and bring you one step closer to making your new house a home.

* Box it up. To be prepared for packing, seek out a large quantity of clean, sturdy containers in a variety of shapes and sizes. When selecting boxes, you may choose to purchase new ones, helping to ensure they can withstand the rigors of moving. You can also purchase dividers, which come in handy for packing glasses and other small, fragile items. No matter what you are using, remember not to over-pack. As a general rule, heavier items should be placed into smaller boxes to avoid too much strain on the box (and your back).

* Leave it. The easiest packing is no packing at all. Moving is the perfect time to clear the clutter out of your life. Before boxing up your belongings, decide what to keep. Clothing and housewares in good shape can be donated, and broken or unused old items can be tossed or given to someone who can repurpose them.

* Mind the supplies. The right tools can go a long way toward easing the moving process. Pick up plenty of quality wrapping material, like Bubble Wrap Brand cushioning, as well as strong packaging tape to help make boxing up your belongings a painless process. Don’t get caught up in common frustrations that cause stress and waste time, such as tape that constantly tear or splits or struggling to find the tape end. Choose a quality tape, like Duck brand EZ Start packaging tape (packagingtape.com), for your moving needs; the brand’s Frustration Free special release technology ensures that you never lose the tape end. And EZ Start unrolls smoothly and easily, without splitting or tearing.

* Organize and prioritize. Pack from room to room and label boxes based on box contents, where boxes will be unpacked in the new location and priority. EZ Start packaging tape provides a solution here, too – with different prints to choose from, boxes can be organized and prioritized according to the particular design used.

* Get help. Be organized to help the entire moving day run smoothly, so that your volunteers aren’t waiting around for a job to do. Providing tasty snacks and drinks is a thoughtful way to say thank you, as are gift cards for coffee, movie theaters or their favorite stores.

* Pack a survival kit. Moving can be exhausting, and an all-day move may not wrap up until late in the evening. Don’t spend your first night in your new home unpacking. Instead, pack a survival kit or an “Open Me First” box with essentials to get you through that first night. Make sure to include some fun items, such as your favorite movie or a batch of brownies, to reward yourself for a hard day’s work.

Moving day may never rival a beach vacation, but these simple tips can make it a lot less stressful and help you enjoy your new home faster and easier.

Foreclosures Decrease in September

According to residential real estate analytics provider
CoreLogic (
NYSE:


CLGX
 

 
) , the number of completed foreclosures declined 39% in September 2013 compared to the same month last year, the company

announced
today. In September 2013 there were 51,000 reported foreclosures in the U.S., down from last year's 84,000, CoreLogic said.

September's drop in foreclosures continues the downward trend, following a 29% decline in August 2013, compared to last year. CoreLogic reported that in August 2013 there were 51,000 completed foreclosures, virtually identical to September 2013's results. There were 72,000 foreclosures in August 2012.

Though trending downward, the number of monthly foreclosures remains dramatically higher than the pre-housing decline figures, which CoreLogic said began in 2007. For example, CoreLogic reported an average of 21,000 foreclosures a month from 2000 to 2006, the period leading up to the real estate crisis.

Florida, by a wide margin, led the U.S. in the number of completed foreclosures for the year-ending in September 2013 with 115,000, more than double the 52,000 California residents endured during the same time frame. North Dakota had the fewest foreclosures the past 12 months (Other than the D.C. area) with only 454, and also had one of the lowest foreclosure inventories relative to the number of mortgaged homes, with a mere 0.07%, CoreLogic said.

President and CEO of CoreLogic Anand Nallathambi commented, "We're not out of the woods yet, but these are encouraging signs for a return to a healthier housing market in the U.S."