Investing in a Turnkey Rental? Watch Out For These Warning Signs

It’s becoming one of the more popular means of investing in real estate these days, and there’s not much work involved in it – if you make the right purchase.

It’s called turnkey rental property investment, and it offers investors lucrative ways to make a profit with minimal work involved. Turkey rentals are perfect for those that might be too busy or disinterested in putting in too much work into the property.

This passive form of real estate investment has been increasingly attracting young millenials who like the idea of owning property, but not necessarily in the traditional sense. Turnkey properties offer investors the opportunity to become homeowners while collecting an additional revenue stream to contribute to an investment portfolio.

But like all other types of investments, they come with some risks. Be wary of the following warning signs before you claim title on a turnkey property.

The Seller Won’t Accept Financing

Huge red flag here. The majority of buyers tend to leverage financing order to be able to buy properties, whether it’s for a primary residence or an investment property. If the sellers try to feed you some line about how the demand is so strong that they can snag a cash buyer within 24 hours, proceed with caution. They’ll tell you that their properties on flying off the shelf, and that they only sell to those who can pay with all cash.

Many of these cash-only turnkey providers probably don’t want to deal with financing because they’re probably worried that their properties won’t get appraised at the value that they are trying to get you to buy them for. Basically, they’re trying to rob you blind. Even if you’ve got the cash to pay in full, you’d still be smart to have the place appraised anyway just to make 100% sure that the real value property is exactly what you’re buying it for.

The Seller Needs a Minimum of 30 Percent Down

Some turnkey property sellers will offer their own financing. But if they ask for at least 30 percent down – or more – think twice.

To get you to comply with their request, they could tell you that a larger down payment will reduce your monthly payments, and thereby boost your cash flow and your equity in the property. The thing is, this could really just be a scheme to make you feel more comfortable about the purchase after the property has been appraised for less than what they’re selling for. Play it safe and get your own lender and go the traditional lending route.

The Seller Also Happens to Be a Marketing Specialist

Much of real estate has to do with effective marketing. After all, you’re probably most likely to come across properties that have been marketed really well before any others. In some cases, you could find a turnkey property that’s being offered by a marketeer at a decent price. But just keep in mind that marketing wizards are basically selling other people’s properties, just with a hiked-up price.

They need to make a buck too, so you can’t really blame them all that much. But don’t forget that buying directly from the turnkey provider can potentially save you a good chunk of change off the purchase price. Ditch the middleman and keep that money in your pocket.

Most of the Seller’s Turnkey Properties Are Located in Shady Areas

Some turnkey providers will try to unload their properties and make a quick buck by trying to sell properties that are in the crappy parts of town. They’ll claim that you can make a really good return on investment on properties in these areas. Take a few minutes to get to know the crime rates in the areas that these properties are located in. If they’re higher than the national average, run.

Keep your eyes peeled for these red flags when searching for the right turnkey rental property to add to your investment portfolio. Not all turnkey providers are shady, but some are. Team up with a real estate agent that’s well-versed in the world of investing in these types of properties to make sure you’re making a sound decision that won’t eat up your profits or cause you headaches.

Existing Housing Outlook: Sales Surging


Americans are loving their previously-owned homes – sales spiked in September to the highest they’ve been in more than eight years.

Perhaps it’s a sign that the residential housing market is recovering enough to support continued growth of the economy.

September sales of existing homes spiked to 4.7 percent – the second-highest pace in eight years – with an extended low interest rate environment and a jump in demand continuing to back up housing recovery.

According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales increased from August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.55 million. That makes four out of five months where gains were realized. The real estate market has been picking up over the past three years with prices increasing year-over-year.

As of September, the median price for existing homes in the US was $221,900, up 6.1 percent from the same time last year.

About 4.8 months’ worth of existing housing supply was measured in September based on today’s pace of sales, down from August’s inventory supply of 5.1 months’ worth. This isn’t necessarily any cause for concern right now, considering a slightly slower winter selling season is upon us. But come spring when demand really starts to pick up, home builders will need to start picking up the slack with production.

Distribution of Sales

Though sales were up in all regions of the US in September, it was the Northeast in particular that experienced the highest gain. Existing home sales in the region jumped 8.6 percent from the month before, and 11.8 percent from last September. The West experienced an increase in sales of 6.7 percent, 2.3 percent in the Midwest, and 3.8 percent in the South.

More specifically, it was single family dwellings that took center stage, which spiked 5.3 percent from August.

Sales of new homes increased by 5.7 percent in August, according to a separate report from the Commerce Department.

Closings on single-family dwellings priced between $100,000 and $250,000 increased 9.2 percent from the same time a year earlier, while closings for homes within the the $250,000 to $500,000 price range increased 22 percent.

What’s Behind the Pick Up in Home Sales?

Employment and income prospects have strengthened, which have contributed largely to the positive outlook in the housing market in the US. With safer job security and higher property values, an increasing number of Americans are more confident about moving up in the real estate market. Home-buyer hopefuls are becoming increasingly willing to make a real estate commitment.

Other factors have also contributed, including the Fed’s decision to continue to keep interest rates at historical lows, thereby making it more affordable to obtain a mortgage.

These numbers reflect the slow yet consistent growth in the overall real estate market. The third quarter’s selling season confirms that the housing market is continuing to improve at a rather steady pace.

Earlier this year, new home sales jumped to the highest level since the financial crisis of 2008.

A strengthened economy and stronger income outlooks are largely responsible for the pace increase in new home construction sales. Would-be home buyers therefore are in a better position to take advantage of affordable borrowing costs these days, especially with the extended low interest rate environment we continue to experience.

New home builders are now in the position to play catch-up in order to meet demand, considering today’s annualized pace of new home sales poised at 468,000 units.

There was a slight hiccup in September in terms of new home sales after two straight months of gains, but housing continues to remain on solid footing thanks to a jump in prices.

Keeping Your Home Secure During the Holidays

Going home for the holidays? You’ll be in good company: one-quarter of Americans take to the open road – or sky – to reunite with family to celebrate the holidays every year.

Besides meaning a time to enjoy the company of loved ones, it also means that thieves are on the prowl, waiting for families to vacate their homes to provide them with an increased opportunity to steal.

If you want to make sure that all your valuables are protected when you’re gone, you’ll need to take measures to secure your property against break-and-enters. And oftentimes that means making it look as if you’re still at home, even if you’re not.

Put a Hold on Your Newspaper and Mail Delivery

Want to send the message out to thieves that you’re not around for a few days? Let your mail and newspapers pile up. Of course, that’s not what you want to happen, so you’d be well-advised to make a call to put a hold on mail and newspaper delivery until you get back. The local post office can hold your mail for up to 30 days, and the newspaper can be postponed indefinitely.

Set a Timer For Your Lights

When you’re out of town, set a timer for all the lights inside and outside your home. Having an automatic timer will set the lights to come on and off at certain times, making it look as if someone is there. Having said that, you should have a close look at any strings of holiday lights before putting them on a timer. Any cords that are frayed or damaged in some way pose a fire hazard. If that’s the case, go buy yourself some new ones.

Make Sure Everything is Locked Up – Including Your Windows

That goes without saying, right? Who leaves their home – for days at a time, no less – without locking the doors or windows?

Lots of people.

It can happen to the best of us. But if you’re in the habit of leaving your doors and windows unlocked more often than not, the holidays are the perfect time to whip into shape. Start making it a habit of asking yourself certain questions before leaving your house, including whether or not the home is adequately secured and locked up. A well-secured home is more of a deterrent to would-be burglars. The easier you make it for them to get into your home, the better the odds of them taking action.

Install Deadbolts on All Exterior Doors

Make it harder for burglars to break into your home by deadbolting all the doors that lead to the outside. It’s just another hindrance for thieves who are scoping out targets in your neighborhood. Even if you’re only leaving the house for a half hour while you pick up groceries, you should deadbolt your doors every time.

Don’t Advertise Your Vacation on Social Media

People just love posting about all their daily happenings on Facebook and Twitter, whether it’s the new cookie recipe they’ve discovered or how disappointed they were in last’s night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

But one thing you should never post on social media is how much you’re enjoying your vacation abroad. Broadcasting where you are and how long you’ll be there can be a real danger. You’re basically announcing to the world – including criminals – that your home is vacant at the moment.

Keep the fact that you’re nowhere near home offline, and wait until you’re home to post your favorite holiday trip photos.

Install a Home Security System

One of the best things you can do to prevent a break-in during the holidays is to have a professional home security system set up. One of the great things about these systems is that they give you peace of mind knowing that they’re always working – whether you’re asleep, at work, or on vacation. Having your home monitored with a sounding alarm that immediately dispatches the authorities is a fantastic way to ward off thievery.

The holidays are a happy and joyous time – the last thing you want is for this cheerful season to be ruined after having your home ransacked. Take these steps to keep your home and valuables as safe as possible while you’re enjoying your holidays abroad.

Understand the Difference Between Base Rate and APR to Know What You’ll Really Be Paying

The interest rate that you’re being charged on your mortgage obviously has a huge effect on how much you’ll be paying every month. But you’ll probably notice that the base rate of your loan is different from the APR, or annual parentage rate.

Why is that?

Well, not only does the APR rate calculation include the interest rate, but it also takes into account other fees associated with financing the loan. Let’s dig a little deeper to help you understand this crucial difference so that you’ll have a much more accurate number to work with when budgeting for your home.

Your APR Tells You More Than the Base Rate Does

The base interest rate is the percentage of the loan amount that you’re being charged for borrowing money, and is a key number when it comes to comparing loan quotes because it has a direct affect on monthly payments.

On the other hand, the APR rate takes more details into consideration. Basically, the APR will tell you in great detail what the entire cost of your mortgage will be over time, and includes all the lender fees and closing costs that need to be paid out. The extras can include brokerage fees, appraisal costs, processing charges, underwriting expenses, and even title insurance.

Simply put, the base rate is what will be stipulated on your mortgage contract, while the APR is this amount, plus added-on fees as listed above.

This becomes important when you’re shopping around for quotes. That way you can better understand the difference between the interest rate quoted and the fees that need to be paid at closing. Some lenders may charge lower interest rates than others, but then will charge you more in associated lender fees. On the other hand, other lenders may quote a higher rate, but it will cover all the fees associated with closing. Knowing this will help you weigh out which will cost you less in the long run.

Thanks to the Truth in Lending Act, all applicable fees have to legally be disclosed by lenders so consumers can make a sound buying decision when it comes to their mortgages.

APR in Action

Lender fees are basically incorporated into the interest rate which is done by amortizing these fees over the life of the mortgage, then calculating a new interest rate.

Let’s illustrate in more detail how an APR would be calculated. Assume that your quoted interest rate is 4.0%, your mortgage amount is $250,000, and the fees associated with closing are $5,000. This would now mean that you have a $255,000 mortgage ($250,000 + $5,000). This new loan amount is then used to calculate a new monthly payment, which would be $1,341.36 based on a 5-year term and 25-year amortization period.

You would then calculate the APR by working backwards to determine what the interest rate would need to be in order keep the monthly payments the same with the original loan amount ($250,000). When making these calculations in this case, you’d come up with an APR of 4.19%, compared to the 4% with the modified loan amount ($255,000). The APR is generally going to be higher than the base rate because it includes the all the fees associated with your mortgage loan.

Potential Drawbacks of APR

There are certain scenarios where borrowers should probably ignore the APR, including the following:

  • You’ll probably be selling your home within 7 years
  • You’ll probably consider refinancing the mortgage within 7 years
  • You’re shopping around for a home equity line of credit (HELOC)

In these cases, the APR might make certain loans look better than they actually are. Considering the above scenarios, if you only kept the loan for 5 years, the second loan would be a lot pricier, even with a lower APR. That’s because the extra $5,000 in fees are paid upfront, while the first loan’s higher interest rate is amortized over the entire life of the mortgage.

The APR is most ideal if you’re shopping for an adjustable rate mortgage, and expect to hang on to your loan for a long time without looking to refinance or switch over to a HELOC.

At the end of the day, it all depends on your specific situation when it comes to determining whether or not calculating the APR is most useful for you. Chat with your mortgage specialist to determine the best way for you to accurately compare and contrast loan rates among different lenders so you ultimately get the best deal possible.

5 Questions to Ask When Interviewing Real Estate Agents

Buying or selling a home isn’t just like any other transaction – these are the big leagues, which means you need a tried-and-true slugger who will cover all the bases and make sure you walk out of the deal hassle-free and with money in your pocket.

But not every real estate agent is created equal. While it might be easy to just go with the neighbor who just happens to be an agent, or with the broker that your sister used to sell her home, a little more research and due diligence is called for.

You’re not just working with your real estate agent – you’re in a business relationship with them. So make sure the agent you choose is right for you.

Here are a few questions you should be asking prospective agents before signing a contract.

  1. How long have you been an agent?

Sounds like a boring interview question, but it’s a relevant one. The longer the’ve been in the market, the better. Being a good real estate agent is a lot more about real-life experiences than about the initial educational courses taken. And if that agent has worked with a ton of clients that are similar to you and your needs, you’ll be better represented.

There might not necessarily be any magic number as far as number of years of experience is concerned, but you should still keep your eyes peeled for agents who have enough transactions under their belts to easily handle real estate deals from A to Z with little hiccups.

You should also probably consider whether or not the agent you’re interviewing works in the market on a part-time or full-time basis. Lots of agents do this part time and on the side, which means they probably won’t be able to offer the level of expertise and service that a professional who does this every day can.

  1. What areas do you specialize in?

Ideally, you want to work with an agent that works closely in the area that you’re buying or selling in. That way, they’ve got their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the neighborhood. If you’re buying, they’ll have the inside scoop about which properties are coming up for sale that match your criteria. If selling, they’ll know exactly what buyers are looking for, and will coach you on how to price and present your home accordingly.

Neighborhood expertise is crucial, because different community markets can have different traits and idiosyncrasies. What may be relevant in one specific area may not be in another. For example, the suburbs are much different than city centers. If the agent you’e considering usually works in neighborhoods far from your home, it’s highly possible that he or she isn’t as familiar with your area’s market than necessary.

  1. How will we be communicating with each other?

Being able to stay in touch with your agent at a moment’s notice is important. A lapse in communication of just an hour or two can mean the difference between getting an offer accepted and missing a great opportunity. The agent you team up with should communicate the way it’s most convenient for you, whether it’s via email, phone, or text. It’s the real estate agent’s job is to communicate the way the client wants or needs.

  1. How will you be marketing my home?

You can’t just plant a for-sale sign on your lawn and expect the buyers to come flocking. Marketing a property involves way more than that, and it’s up to you to ask your real estate agent what marketing channels will be used to market your home if you’re selling. Having your home advertised on the MLS is crucial, because it puts your home in front of the eyes of other agents working in your area, as well as buyers who are doing some of their own research.

In addition to the MLS, ask the agent how many other website your home will be listed on. In addition, ask if the listing will be placed in the newspaper, local real estate magazine, or anywhere else where buyers will be looking.

Look at the agent’s past listings, which will show you how well he or she is able to boost the visibility of a property. Also, make sure that the real estate agent you hire uses high-quality images for your online ads, which will show better to prospective buyers in your neighborhood.

  1. Do you work within my home’s price range?

Ideally, your agent should have a decent amount of experience working with homes within your specific price range. That way, your agent will probably have a more skilled ability to see your home through a potential buyer’s eyes. If they’ve got experience dealing with buyers who are looking for properties within the same price range that you’re listing your home at, this will help the agent be more effective at negotiating at the bargaining table.

No matter how formally a real estate agent has prepared a sales pitch to convince you to use their services, make sure that they give you the answers you’re looking for. The agent you’re questioning may be an excellent one, but not necessarily right for you and your specific situation. Be sure to have a list of these questions written down so you don’t miss one, then jot down any additional queries you might have during the interview. The time taken to ask a few questions is well worth it to find the perfect agent.

Handmade Home: How Millennials Are Using Etsy to Decorate Their Homes

Social media has gradually invaded every area of life for baby boomers and Generation X. For the upcoming Millennial generation, however, technology has been in their lives for as long as they can remember. Younger Millennials were interacting with their parents’ smartphones when they were still in elementary school and texting by the time they were teens.

As this generation graduates college and purchases their first homes, they’re taking a more technological approach to decorating and renovating their rooms. But in a marketplace full of cookie-cutter furnishings, Millennials still crave that human touch. Instead of buying items on big box furniture and decorating websites, many of them are sifting through sites like Etsy to find unique items that will set their homes apart. Unlike scouring bargain bins and thrift shops for finds, Etsy’s shops are filled with unique handmade items that are perfect for homes and apartments. Here are a few benefits that are now drawing Millennials to Etsy.


Etsy offers homeowners the chance to have an element of their home décor customized to them. Instead of standard throw pillows with fun sayings, those pillows could display a message that fits a person’s unique interests or includes the names of family members. Instead of hanging wooden signs with canned quotes and messages, a customer can purchase a sign that has a favorite quote or child’s name. Items throughout a homeowner’s living space can be customized, from wall plaques to cutting boards to wall clocks.

Shabby Chic

Shabby chic décor has become more popular than ever and the trend is driving customers to crafts sites and thrift stores. Etsy is the ideal site for the shabby chic trend, with numerous items available that are either handmade or restored antiques. Millennials have found that rather than purchasing items and distressing them on their own, they can save time by searching Etsy for items for sale that have already been distressed. Since prices are usually fairly low, they fit within the tight budgets Millennials often have.

Supporting Others

When customers buy from big box retailers or discount department stores, they support a major corporation that already makes millions. When they buy items on Etsy, they’re supporting people just like themselves who are trying to make a living doing something they love. Instead of purchasing an item from a faceless corporate giant, they’re able to see small craftspeople and artists grow their Etsy shops and know they’re a part of it. Since many Millennials now realize the value of running a business rather than working to make someone else rich, they can appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit behind a site like Etsy.

With so many items now available, homeowners across all demographics can gain by filling their homes with Etsy-sold items. Millennials are among the first of upcoming generations that have been raised on technology. Sites like Etsy allow them to search for unique items that they wouldn’t be able to find in traditional stores, while also supporting crafty entrepreneurs.

5 Ways Real Estate Agents Save You Money When Selling Your Home

It’s understandable – after finally selling your home, it can be tough to fork over the commission fee to a real estate agent. But before you fall into the FSBO trap, consider one very important thing: real estate agents can actually save you money.

That’s right.

While a commission is due at the end of the deal, the cost will pale in comparison to how much you can save through the process. Here are just a handful of ways how agents can save you cash when selling your home.

  1. They’ll Price Your Home Right

Who wouldn’t want to list their home for millions of dollars, regardless of what it’s actually worth? Everyone wants to get as much money as possible for their property, but buyers aren’t dumb – they’re probably working with their own agents who are telling them what they should and shouldn’t offer on a property. There’s this little thing called ‘comparables’, and agents use them to gauge what homes are worth in a specific area. And while buyers’ agents are using these comps, so are sellers’ agents.

Here’s the rub – price your home too high, and you’ll send buyers running in the opposite direction. That leaves your home sitting on the market for weeks and even months without a bite. And the longer your home remains unsold, the more it costs you in the long run.

The other end of the spectrum is just as ugly – price your home too low, and you’re basically leaving a ton of cash on the table. The goal here is to make as much money as possible, which means you need to find that sweet spot as far as a listing price is concerned. With an experienced real estate agent on your side, you’ll have the expertise and tools necessary to price your home perfectly to get you the most money come sale time.

  1. They Give You Awesome Staging Tips

The look of your home can be totally transformed with a few key pointers from your real estate agent. If you’ve had the same set-up and decor for years, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your home shows well to sellers. A seasoned agent will come in to your home and objectively gauge the space, then (nicely) tell you what’s working, and what’s not.

He or she will make suggestions about what you should get rid of and what you can keep, as well as how your present furniture should be arranged to maximize flow and functionality. Rearranging furniture to its optimal visual appeal will make your home more attractive to buyers.

Real estate agents can even bring in a professional home stager to make major changes to the space. These pros bring in their own furniture and accessories, and can make your home look like something that jumped out of a magazine. It’s a fact that homes that are well staged sell faster, and for more money compared to homes that are left as is. So it’s totally worth it to listen to staging tips from your real estate agent or stager if you want more money in your pocket at the end of the day.

  1. They’ve Got Ties With Other Pros in the Industry

The savviest agents are the ones that have an arsenal of experts on the back burner to help you in all sorts of ways along the home selling journey.

Need a few repairs to your home before you put it up on the market? An agent can set you up with a contractor. Apprehensive about the mortgage process? Your agent can put you in touch with a trusted mortgage specialist. And what about all the legal stuff that comes along with selling a property and transferring title? Agents have a lawyer they can recommend to you.

Trying to find professionals such as these that are both experienced and trusted can be a full-time job. Luckily, that’s a hefty chore that you can strike off your list when you work with a competent real estate agent. Forget about throwing money in incapable hands – the experts you work with will come highly recommended, and maybe even with a discount.

  1. They’ll Negotiate More Money on the Sale Price

The art of negotiation comes in really handy at the home selling table. Real estate agents are masters of this skill, and will pull all the stops to help you get the highest dollar for your home. The more money you make on your home, the more money goes into their pocket, so you can be sure that they’ll do their darnedest to squeeze every dollar out of the deal possible.

Whether the strategy is to sightly under-price the home to stimulate a bidding war, or to focus on super-motivated buyers that put up a sizeable deposit and offer a quick closing, agents are there to help put the most money in your pocket. And when it comes to deciding whether or not to accept an offer, counter it, negotiate the closing date, or change the contingencies, your agent is there to navigate these negotiations to get you the best deal.

  1. They Save You Time

You’ve heard the saying before – time is money. Well, this phrase doesn’t ring any more true than during the selling process. Those who are inexperienced with the ins and outs of selling a property have no clue about how incredibly tedious and time-consuming it can be. It’s certainly not as simple as slapping up a For Sale sign, throw up a few photos online, allow the heards of buyers to flock, then accept the first offer that comes in.

There’s a lot more to it than that, and it can really suck the time out of your schedule. Who has time to take care of all the back-end stuff that comes along with successfully selling a home? Instead, leave it to a real estate agent to take care of all of that – after all, this is their full-time job, and they’re good at it.

Do yourself a favor – avoid the temptation to go the FSBO route in an effort to “save” some money. If you really want to save yourself some cash, work with an agent. Besides saving you money, real state agents will also save you a ton of hassle and headaches. That alone is well worth enlisting their services.

8 Clever Moving Tips to Cut Down on Time and Hassle

Just the mere thought of having to pack the entire house and move it all to a new destination can seem like a daunting task. And it can be if you don’t plan ahead and use simple yet effective strategies to ease the burden. Here are 8 savvy packing and moving tips to make the haul a cinch.

  1. Throw Junk Out – Don’t Pack it

Keep this golden rule in mind before you pack certain items: if you haven’t used it over the past year, you most likely never will. If that’s the case, there’s no sense in packing these never-used items and moving them into your new home, only for them to just take up precious space for nothing.

Most likely, the home you’re moving out of has accumulated quite a bit of ‘stuff’ since you’ve lived there – odds are, a lot of it doesn’t have to be dragged along with you. Instead, create a pile for donation, and a pile for the trash. Getting rid of unused things will drastically cut down on the time and effort needed to pack and move all of your belongings on moving day.

  1. Wrap Your Delicates in Clothing or Towels Instead of Bubble Wrap

Any fragile items – such as glassware, dishes, porcelain figurines, etc – will obviously need extra care and padding when storing them for the big move. But rather than using bubble wrap for this purpose, consider using clothing instead.

First of all, bubble wrap can get pretty expensive, especially with the hoards that you’ll be needing. Secondly, your clothing and linens need to be packed anyway – why take up extra space with bubble wrap when your clothes can serve a purpose?

  1. Use Bags Instead of Boxes

How much space do boxes take up in a moving truck? A lot. How expensive are they? Very. Consider using durable bags instead of boxes when possible.

Not everything in your home is square-shaped and fits perfectly inside a box. Rather than counting on boxes for all of your belongings, throw some bags into the mix. And if you’ve got any suitcases, use these to pack large and bulky items, like your comforters, pillows, and sweaters, which tend to take up a lot of space.

  1. Use Clear Bins For Essential Items

Think about all the items that you’ll need the first day and night that you’ll be in your new home. Things like your toothbrush, shampoo, phone charger, laptop, and other items will be needed within hours of moving. Skip the frustration of looking through every box by storing these must-haves in a clear plastic bin to help you find things a lot easier and faster.

  1. Take Photos

You’d be amazed at how quickly you’ll forget how certain shelves were arranged, such as your glasses and dishes. Your shelves may be stacked and organized so perfectly in your old home, but this arrangement will be tough to copy after you’ve taken everything down and stuffed them into moving boxes.

The same can be said for your electronics – taking photos of the cords on the back of your TV and other gadgets will make it a lot easier to remember where they all belong. This will save you both time and hassle.

  1. Don’t Leave Important Documents With the Mover

Crucial papers, like your passports, birth certificates, bank statements, purchase agreements, or any other paperwork with sensitive information on it should be kept with you, and not the movers. These are the last things that you want to go missing during the move.

  1. Leave the Garage Empty

You’ll probably be tempted to fill the garage or attic at your new place with all your boxes that you moved from your old house. Do yourself a favor, and resist this temptation. While your intention may be to deal with them ‘at some point’ in the near future, this usually tends to turn into ‘never.’

Just like we said earlier – if you can go months – or longer – without using certain things, it’s safe to say they can be discarded. If not, you’ll be parking your vehicle on the driveway.

  1. Color Coordinate Your Boxes/Rooms

Labeling boxes is a classic moving trick, and it’s an absolute must. But you can make things even easier on yourself by color coordinating the boxes for each room in the house.

For instance, assign blue for the master bedroom and orange for the kitchen, and so on.

Use colored stickers on each box near the number you’ve designated for each. Once you get to your new home, place a matching sticker on each room’s door. That way the movers will know exactly where each box goes when they finally get there.

Moving isn’t exactly glamorous, nor is it simple. But you can definitely take steps to make it as stress-free and easy as possible so you can spend more time enjoying your new digs.

Britney Spears Lands SoCal Mansion for $7 Million

Pop queen Britney Spears has just landed a swanky getaway from her stint in Las Vegas: an expansive estate perched on a hilltop in Thousand Oaks, California.

The songstress dropped $7.4 million on the massive 5-bedroom, 7.5-bathroom mansion, which is situated on a 20-acre piece of land filled with olive and magnolia trees, just outside L.A.

It should come as no surprise that the “Toxic” singer would have that kind of cash lying around to spend on her new digs, considering the fact that she signed on for another 2-year residency at Vegas’ Planet Hollywood Resort.

The home has been on and off the real estate market for a couple of years now, which started off at nearly $12 million back in early 2013. So it appears as if Ms. Spears has landed herself a deal.

With 13,264 square feet, there’s plenty of room for such opulent and decadent spaces in this gem. An enormous great room with an echo-inducing 35-foot high ceiling can be accessed via the marble-floored foyer, which features a colossal fireplace surrounded by built-in media cabinets. The oak-panelled library boasts built-in bookshelves, a fireplace, and gorgeous Parquet de Versailles flooring.

The kitchen is a gourmet chef’s dream, with a sprawling center island kitchen that has all the frills a private chef would covet. A separate dining area can be accessed directly from the kitchen, which comes complete with a towering bay window and fireplace.

The majestic master suite features a fireplace, two large walk-in closets, two bathrooms, and a private balcony overlooking the rolling hills of the property. The other four bedrooms stem off of the master suite.

There’s much to look at outside the walls of this palatial palace, including hand-carved fountains, a plethora of patios with fabulous views, meticulously manicured lawns, lush flower gardens, and even an orchard.

This Italian-esque estate is meant for entertaining – there’s a large media and game room on the upper level of the main house, as well as a 1,200-square-foot poolside pavilion that’s outfitted with a full kitchen, bathroom, and a temperature-controlled wine cellar that can hold 3,500 bottles of wine. And outside, Britney and her pals can enjoy the infinity pool and spa, a motor court, a lit-up tennis court with a viewing level, and a three-green golf course.

Spears is no stranger to dabbling in SoCal real estate – she’s held title on a number of other properties in Malibu, Beverly Hills, and Hollywood, and even rented a few estates all over L.A. Just three years ago the singer dished out nearly $6.8 for a humongous Spanish-style mansion inside Sherwood Country Club’s gated community – also in Thousand Oaks.