5 of the Best Hikes in the OC/LA area

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Summer may have passed, but that doesn’t mean hiking season is quite over.  We are so fortunate here in Southern California to be so close to some of the most beautiful hiking trails that are accessible year round. With hiking burning 400 – 550 calories an hour, there’s no better way to start off the Fall season than with a little exercise with beautiful views.

 

Los Liones Trail to Parker Mesa

Located in the beautiful Santa Monica Mountains, this trail is a moderate climb from the Pacific Palisades through the Topanga State Park to the top of Parker Mesa. Here you will experience some of the most beautiful coastal views of the city.  

Malibu State Creek

 


Malibu State Creek has trails and hikes for people of all experience levels from flat strolls along the Canyon floor to climbing the ridge of the Castro Crest. Here you can rock climb, hike through lakes and rivers, all while viewing some impressive film history. This one is worth the drive.

 

Top of the World

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Located in Laguna Beach, this is one of our favorite hikes in Orange County. It is an easy 2.5 miles round trip with beautiful 360-degree views of Southern California. On a clear day, you can see all the way to Catalina Island to the West and the San Gabriel Mountains to the North.  

Bridge to Nowhere

 


This is definitely a hike for the more experienced. This 10-mile round trip hike takes you through rivers, forgotten LA history, and deep into the San Gabriel Mountains. Here you will see where engineers tried to build a road in the 1930s but were washed away in a flood. The only thing that remains is a 120-foot arched bridge that leads to nowhere, hence the name.

 

Red Rock Canyon

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Located in Lake Forest, this four-mile trek takes you through the Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park with Instagram-worthy views of red sandstone canyons. The best time to hike this trail is in the evening, just as the sun is setting.

 

Seller Checklist: 4 steps to getting your home ready to sell

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Selling your home is never an easy task, it takes time, research, patience, and money. With low-interest rates, there is no better time to put your home up for sale. Buyers are out and about, eager to find a home. Here you will find what steps you should be taking to ensure your home is sold and not just continually sitting on the market.

Determine if you want to use an agent or sell yourself

Many people opt to hire a real estate agent in order to cut costs. If you are planning to do so, make sure you are aware of the responsibilities of marketing your home. This is a little tougher when you don’t have the use of MLS (Multiple Listing Service), a tool agents use to find homes available for sale. Also, be ready to figure out the worth of your home, work with a buyer’s agent, know how to market your property, and to negotiate, file, and record paperwork.

Find a real estate agent

Unless you have professional home selling experience, a real estate agent is highly recommended. The best way to find an agent is to keep your search local. You want an agent that has experience and expert knowledge of the city or town you’re selling in. Once you find a candidate, research their experience online or in-person by asking them.

Have your home inspected

When you sell your home, potential buyers are going to conduct an inspection. You should conduct your own before hand so you can find any issues your home may have and address them before the buyer finds them. Inspections usually include appliances, plumbing, septic, electrical, heating and air systems, roof, and foundations.  

Decide what to remodel

Easy and cheap improvements should always be fixed before the home is put on the market, but when it comes to the big stuff, how much is too much? Most buyers want a house that is ready to move into, if there are too many maintenance issues, they will move on to the next home. If floors need refinishing, refinish them. Also, chipped titling should be fixed. When it comes to ceilings, fix any cracks and paint over any stains. Kitchens are the most important part of the house. Don’t go spending thousands on a new kitchen, but if it needs a little updating, start with fresh paint, new lighting fixtures, new cabinet hardware and replace any countertop appliances.

Insider’s Guide To Long Beach

Once a commuter town, Long Beach is becoming one of Southern California’s hottest cities. Being centrally located between SoCal’s two largest counties, Long Beach provides a small town feel while also still in close proximity to the state’s major metropolises. With this guide, find some of Long Beach’s best places to eat, drink, shop and dine.

 

Pie Bar

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Located in Downtown Long Beach, Pie Bar offers a variety of homemade pies. What makes this place so special is their testers,“pie flight,” which are shot glasses filled with pie from key lime to bourbon pecan. They also have pies in mason jars for delicious treats on the go.  


Beachwood Blendery

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With an homage to Belgium, Beachwood has mimicked the brewing process to bring the best lambic to Southern California. Their beers are served in smaller glasses and in colorful, rustic bottles. The sour blondes and the multi-barrel experiment, which is infused with cherries, is a must try!


6th and Detroit

 

This cute home-decor boutique has got people commuting from Los Angeles to Long Beach just to visit the shop. It has been able to keep prices low due to owner’s excellent bargaining hunting skills. But all the pieces are carefully chosen to complement each other and to keep a neutral color palette.  


Pizzanista

 

Located in a historic bungalow along 7th Street, Pizzanista was started by pro-skateboarder, Salman Agah. One favorite amongst locals is the Meat Jesus, packed with pepperoni, bacon, anise-seeded sausage, all on top of a sourdough crust.


Restauration

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With a dining patio that looks like it’s straight out of Pinterest or Tumblr with aluminum chairs, ­handmade wooden tables and hanging lights that cast a flattering glow. Restauration is perfect for Sunday morning brunchers and families looking for early bird dinner specials while also enjoying a seasonal and international beer and wine list.

Is Staging Your Home Worth The Cost?

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In past years, staging your home wasn’t necessary, giving your home a good scrub and tidying up was enough to attract potential buyers. Today, we live in a much more visual society with many people across the country hiring staging companies to help give their home that little added touch. You may hesitate to hire such a company because in your eyes all that means is another added expense. Here is why staging your home is actually beneficial to selling your home.

You may wonder what exactly do home stagers do? Well, home stagers are much like interior decorators, they choose color schemes, fabrics, decor, and furniture that best fits your home. The job of the home stager is not to design your home to your personal likening, but to incorporate looks to fit everyone’s taste. Their job is to make your home look so good that anyone will come through your doors and fall in love.

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The stager will come in and inspect your home from top to bottom. They identify specific qualities of your home and work to highlight them. They will then sit down with you and discuss their plan and costs. They will also help identify furniture or other home items that should be left out and ones that should be put away before your next open house. Stagers will even go as far as bringing in fresh flowers and popping a pie in the oven for a warm, homey scent. Some people feel this may be deceiving, but you will still need to submit the home’s physical condition in a disclosure statement.

In a study done by the Real Estate Staging Association, homes that were staged prior to being listed, sold 79 percent faster than homes that were not staged. Staging a home has shown to work in both cold and hot markets. For example, in an article by the New York Times, a couple living in Manhattan decided to sell their apartment. After six months on the market and cutting the asking price by $200,000, the couple decided to bring in a professional stager. They gave a place a complete makeover by adding new kitchen cabinets, modern decor, new doors, and fresh paint. The couple re-listed the apartment and within two months a bidding war ensued. In the end, the couple was able to sell their apartment for $200,000 more than their original asking price.

So can you stage your home yourself? The answer is you definitely can. Your home may already look like it’s straight out of a magazine, but it never hurts to have a professional eye give your home a look. They may add just a few highlighting touches that will increase your home’s desirability.

 

10 Summer Energy Saving Tips

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Today marks the first official day of summer with the summer solstice and since we’re experiencing one of the hottest heat waves in recent years, there is no better time to brush up on our energy saving tips.  As a society, we typically spend more money during the summer, on vacations, BBQs and other social gatherings, and cooling. Here in Southern California, we typically can get away with keeping the air conditioning off during these summer months, which in turn, saves you money. But here are few other ways in which you can save on your energy bill this summer:

 

  1. If you must turn your AC on for those extraordinarily hot days, keep it at 78 degrees when you’re home and 85 for when you’re not. Make sure to keep furniture and other large objects clear of the vents.

 

  1. Make sure to have your AC vents and filters cleaned or replaced. Not only will this be more energy efficient, but will increase the quality of air in your home.

 

  1. To minimize indoor heat, run your dryer and dishwasher at night. If it is warm enough out, let your dishes air dry. Avoid using the oven as much as you can, instead, use a microwave, toaster oven or even an outdoor grill. Avoid using the oven during 2-8 p.m.

 

  1. Adjust your water heater to 120 degrees.

 

  1. Use window, ceiling, or house fans. These use less energy than any cooling system.

 

  1. Wash your clothes in cold water and don’t forget to clean the lint filter after each dry.

 

  1. Keep your blinds and windows closed during the day and open them at night. You can trap the cool air in your home by keeping the windows closed and keep the cool air in longer by closing the blinds.

 

  1. When you’re not using them, unplug appliances. The best way to go about this is to plug home electronics, like the computer, TV, and DVD player, into a power strip so you can simply and safely flip the switch off.

 

  1. If you have multiple refrigerators or freezers, look into consolidating them into one. This will save you majorly on your next utility bill.

 

  1. If you have a pool, slowly reduce the filtration to every 30 minutes. Keep reducing the time period between filtration if the water appears to be clean. You may even be able to reduce it to every six hours a day.

 

Moonlight Movies on the Beach Summer Line-Up 2017

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It is not summer in Long Beach without Moonlight Movies on the Beach. A tradition here in the city, hundreds gather on the beach in the warm summer evenings to enjoy movies from classics to new releases. So grab your friends, your family, or your loved one and experience one of Long Beach’s favorite summer events.

Locations vary between Granada Beach, Cherry, and Alamitos Beach.

 

June 15, 2017 – Rogue One Star Wars

Location: Granada Beach

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Hello we are Rogue One team!✊ Official Rogue one poster. #poster #rogueone #starwars

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June 20, 2017 – Secret Life of Pets

Location: Granada Location

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Now you can find out what they do all day. #TheSecretLifeOfPets is coming to IMAX 3D for one week only! // Repost via @imax.movies A post shared by The Secret Life Of Pets (@secretlifeofpets) on

June 27, 2017 – Mean Girls

Location: Granada Beach

 

 

June 29, 2017 – Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

Location: Alamitos Beach

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Prepare yourself for the beasts are coming….#FantasticBeasts #HarryPotter A post shared by Fantastic Beasts Film (@fantasticbeastsmovie) on

 

July 11, 2017 – Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl

Location: Granada Beach

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Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 

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July 13, 2017 – Napoleon Dynamite

Location: Cherry Beach

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Courtesy of Facebook.com/OfficialNapoleonDynamite

 

 July 18, 2017 – The Breakfast Club

Location: Granada Beach

 

 

 

July 25, 2017 – The Little Mermaid

Location: Granada Beach

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Courtesy of Facebook.com/DisneyTheLittleMermaid

 

July 27, 2017 – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Location: Alamitos Beach

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Courtesy of Facebook.com/WillyWonkaAndTheChocolateFactory

 

 

August 1, 2017 – 50 First Dates

Location: Granada Beach

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Movie Time🎬#50firstdatesmovie

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August 3, 2017 – Jaws

Location: Cherry Beach 

August 8, 2017 – Finding Dory

Location: Granada Beach

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#Repost @theellenshow Check out the new “Finding Dory” poster! They really captured my eyes. And my tail fin. #HaveYouSeenHer

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August 15, 2017 – Moana

Location: Alamitos Beach

 

August 17, 2017 – The Princess Bride

       

 

 

August 22, 2017 – The Sandlot

Location: Granada Beach 

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Courtesy of Facebook.com/TheSandlotMovie

       

5 Open House Hacks That’ll Sell Your Home in Spring 2017

A home for sale shows the open house sign on a sunny afternoon.

Before the open house frenzy starts, you should begin to prep your home by giving it a deep clean, organizing it, and maybe adding a few extra pieces of furniture. These are the first steps that should be done, but one thing that many sellers don’t realize is the exterior of their home is the selling point. Whether people are looking at photos online or driving by, the presentation of your home is what can turn people into potential buyers. We’ve all learned not to judge a book by its cover, but this is not the case. Everyone will be judging your home by its cover. Here are 5 open house hacks that will sell your home before the buyers come knocking.

1. Paint your front door

You may not have the time or the money to paint your entire home, so why not opt for something smaller. The front door of your home is like the eyes to a face, it’s the first thing people look at. Giving your door a fresh coat of paint is cheap and can give your home the facelift it needs

2. Fake a ‘just landscaped’ landscape

If you don’t have the time to re-landscape your whole front yard, you can fake the look by adding mulch around in-ground plants to give your home a fresh look. You should also trim any overgrown trees or plants. If you also don’t have time to get to all your shrubbery, trim the ones that look overgrown or that are obstructing views of the house.

3. Greet them with fresh flowers

On the day of your open house add fresh flowers to a pot and set them out front. This will make your home look more welcoming and inviting. The fresh flowers will also distract your potential buyers from other flaws that you may not have had time to get to. Also, keep the flowers related to the season. Now that spring is here, choose daffodils or tulips to decorate your front porch.

4. Spruce up the mailbox

Our mailboxes can become weathered and unsightly over the years, yet still, go unnoticed because they are not a major accessory to our homes. If your mailbox is rusty and gross, it may be time for a new one. Some may just need a fresh coat of paint. You can even match the color to the front door, adding that little accent of color.

5. Tie is altogether

Adding a fresh new welcome mat will clean up the look of your home, but before you do that you should get a new door knob, knocker, and porch light, that match. Having these matching pieces will tie everything together, giving you home a complete and finished look. You want to make your potential buyers fall in love with your home before they even walk in the door.

Small-Space Game Changers Your Storage-Deficient Home Needs Now

Living in a small space can be tough, especially when it comes to storage. Thriving in a small space is all about being creative. Here are some storage ideas your storage-deficient home needs now.

 

1. Storage Ottoman

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(Image Credit: Target)

These little storage disguised guys can be used as a footrest, coffee table, even quick seating all within seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Wall shelves

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(Image Credit: World Market)

These wall shelves are great for creating a home and chic environment as well as create additional storage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Cabinet organizers

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(Image credit: Amazon)

There is nothing more frustrating than a messy, disorganized cabinet. By creating an organized space you’ll be able to fit more. These two-tiered storage baskets slide over your cabinet doors without taking up any precious under sink space.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Under the Bed Storage

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(Image credit: Staples)

A lightweight rolling cart can turn the area under your bed into an unexpectedly chic storage drawer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Sleeper couches or chairs

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(Image Credit: Pottery Barn)

Compact but comfortable, these sophisticated sleeper chairs convert to twin-sized beds in seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Major Mistakes That Retirees Make With Real Estate

Happy Senior Couple From Behind Looking at Front of House.

You’ve worked hard year after grueling year and, finally, retirement is on the horizon. There’s nothing ahead for you but lazy days of relaxation and idle time to pursue those back-burner hobbies. Hey, you’ve earned it!

But if you haven’t planned ahead, those golden years could be full of stress—fraught with unknowns and major decisions to be made. And one of the biggest, most stressful aspects of retirement is, you guessed it, real estate.

Do you downsize? Buy a second property so you can make like snowbirds and fly south for the winter? Keep the home where all your family’s memories were made? While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, there are some general pitfalls to avoid.

Here are five of the biggest real estate mistakes experts see retirees make.

1. Failing to ‘audit’ the situation

It might come as a surprise, but many retirees forget to assess their current real estate situation to make sure it meets their future needs, according to David Reiss, professor of law at Brooklyn Law School.

“Most people are on autopilot when it comes to their home: ‘It has worked for me up to now, so I assume that it will work for me going forward,’” Reiss says. “The mistake they make is that they do not realize that their future selves are very different from their current selves.

“As we age, our ability to do all sorts of physical things worsen—shoveling, climbing ladders—decreases,” he adds. “So it makes sense to assess your housing situation at regular intervals.”

Even if you plan on keeping your home, there are questions you should ask yourself: Should you make adjustments to your home so you can age in place? Does it make sense to refinance into a 15-year mortgage in order to pay off what you owe more quickly while paying a lower interest rate? Should you access some of the equity that’s built up in the house in order to supplement your retirement income?

“All of these options have pros and cons,” Reiss says. “It’s worth talking them through with someone whose financial judgment you trust.”

2. Waiting too long to make a move

Don’t wait until you officially retire to buy or sell property—especially a second property, says Jon Sakalas, CPA, Realtor®, and co-founder of 5280 Colorado Property Management. “I recommend purchasing a second property in your 30s, or—worst-case scenario—early to mid-40s,” he says.

Of course, that’s an ambitious goal, especially if you’re still struggling to purchase your first home. But if you can make it happen, you’ll reap the rewards, Sakalas says.

It all comes down to equity. You could use the second home as a vacation property, or rent it out for 15 to 20 years, if you buy early enough. The renter pays down the principal each month, and any profit can be used to build equity in the place. Plus, any price appreciation will expand the profit margin. You’ll also receive tax breaks on the mortgage interest, property tax, and rental property manager fees to offset any rental income.

Then when you’re ready to retire, you can sell that house and take that equity (in addition to your original down payment and any equity in your primary residence) and buy what you want—where you want. Or, if it’s the right place, you can move there.

3. Making snap judgments about where to buy

While heading to Florida might seem like the natural thing to do, the fact is the Sunshine State is a big place with vastly differing communities—some of which might suit your needs and some of which might not. Heck, Florida in general might not be right for you.

Too often, retirees make snap judgments about where to buy, says Michael Kelczewski, a Realtor with Brandywine Fine Properties Sotheby’s International Realty.

“I typically spend an entire day touring specific areas with prospective buyers,” Kelczewski says. “We meet potential neighbors, visit restaurants, review commuting times and travel routes.”

Take your time in deliberating when moving to a new state, city, or town, he recommends. That means investigating everything from local taxes to the activities, transportation, and health care options available.

4. Using retirement funds to pay off your mortgage

In an ideal situation, homeowners will go into retirement with no mortgage debt. But speeding up that process at the expense of your retirement account isn’t the way to go.

“This can be troublesome if people are using pretax money, such as IRAs, to pay a monthly mortgage bill,” says Pedro Silva, a financial adviser with Provo Financial Services in Shrewsbury, MA. “That means they pay tax on every dollar coming from these accounts and use the net amount to pay the mortgage. This can be a significant percentage of someone’s monthly cash flow.”

If you’re carrying a mortgage into retirement, don’t panic. Just consider refinancing into lower rates (pro tip: Rates are on the rise, so if you’re retiring in the near future, lock in rates before they climb higher).

5. Deeding property to children

Downsizing in retirement, but want your kids to hang on to the family home? You might be tempted to deed the property to your children as a gift rather than selling it to them. But beware—you could miss out on a huge tax break and saddle your children with an unnecessary tax bill, according to Michael Hottman, associate broker and Realtor with Keller Williams in Richmond, VA. Here’s why:

First, if you decide not to sell your home (to your kids or anyone else), you’ll miss out on any potential profits. You’ll also miss out on the $250,000 capital gains exclusion on your property ($500,000 for a married couple filing jointly). In other words, up to $500,000 profit could be tax-free if you sell the property (assuming you’ve lived in it two of the past five years). But not if you deed it to your kids.

Maybe you just want to do a nice thing for your loving children. That’s great! But your generous gift could end up costing them, big-time.

You see, when you deed property to your kids, they inherit the “basis”—or original price. That’s what’s used as the starting point to calculate capital gains. When they sell the home, they’ll be taxed on the difference between the current value of the home and its basis. If it appreciated in value, your spawn will likely face a hefty tax bill. (Although, if they’ve lived in the home as their primary residence for two of the five years before they sell, they’re also eligible for that capital gains exclusion.)

We won’t tell you that you should never deed property to your children. But make sure to consult with a tax specialist who can help you navigate the process and come up with a solution that works best for you and your family.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Outdoors

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Jeff Sand

Now that is spring is finally here, it is time to start on that spring cleaning you’ve been putting off. For most, spring cleaning is centered around getting the interior of your home in order, but what about your outdoor space? Many people wait until summer to begin making their outdoor place presentable. We’re lucky, with a great climate like ours, we can begin our summer season a bit earlier than the rest of the country. Here are some spring cleaning tips for your outdoor space.

Clean the garage door

Most people never even touch their garage door with soap and water, but why not? We guarantee that it is dirty. Start by filling a bucket with soap and adding water from the hose, like you would do if you were going to wash your car. Get a rag, soak it, and begin wiping the door. Once you’ve covered the entire door with soapy water, rinse it with a high pressured nozzle on your hose. Wait until you see the difference it makes.

Clear out the cobwebs

During the winter, you probably didn’t spend much time outside looking under the eaves at what the spiders left for you, but there are most likely cobwebs. Cobwebs are very unattractive, so it’s time to get those before you have guests over. Start by getting a cobweb duster and walking around the outside of your house and capture any cobwebs you may find. To clean the cobweb duster, simply roll it around on the grass and see how easily it comes off.

Wash out your garbage cans

Have you ever been assaulted by the smell of someone’s trash cans? Obviously, the trash is going to smell, but you can stop the smell from becoming overpowering. Start out my clearing any trash that may be in your cans. Pour a little dish soap in each can and lay them on their side. Either use a power washer or a high-pressure nozzle for your hose and begin spraying them out. After they have been cleaned, add some odor eliminating trash bags to help fight the lingering smells.

Fix up the front porch

This is probably one of the more important steps as this is usually the first place in which your guests will see when they visit your home. There are many components that make up your front porch that will need attention. You can start out by removing your porch light and getting rid of any dead bugs that may be inside. Once you have done this you can do a quick wash with soap and water. Sweep the entire porch before you move on to anything else because if you wait til the end to sweep you’ll get everything you just cleaned dirty again. Next, clean your front door with a wet rag and don’t forget the threshold, as this is where much of the dirt can be tracked into your home. If you have any other outdoor decorations, wipe them down as well. Tidy up and add fresh flowers to create a more inviting and welcoming vibe.