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COVID-19 Gives a Boost to Estate Planning: How You Can Get a Will Done—and Fast

April 9, 2020

courtneyk/Getty Images

Here’s the macabre truth: With hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the country—and the death toll steadily rising—estate planners are reporting an increase in calls and transactions by people wanting to put their affairs in order in case of their death.

But estate planning isn’t just for those with a life-threatening diagnosis. In fact, if you’ve never considered who will inherit your assets, or whom you’d appoint to be your power of attorney, now’s probably a good time. We spoke with several experts to find out everything you need to know about quickly securing your assets during the pandemic—or beyond. Keep reading for all the details.

Estate planning with a lawyer vs. online

If you’re panicked about getting your estate planning done quickly, maybe you’ve wondered: Can’t I just do it online?

While many lawyers advocate for working with a professional, there are situations in which it might make sense to take the do-it-yourself online approach.

“If you’ve already taken stock of your assets and decided on how it should be managed, creating an estate plan is rather straightforward,” explains Felix Sebastian of Legal Templates. “An attorney can draft one up for you in a matter of hours, or you can do so yourself by using forms provided by your state government.”

For those with relatively simple estate planning goals (i.e., a limited number of assets and beneficiaries, and no special circumstances), online services can be a great option, with the added perk of having an incredibly fast turnaround time.

“We have streamlined the process to make it easy and efficient,” says Patrick Hicks, head of legal at Trust & Will. “Most people finish in 15 to 30 minutes, but the process is driven by the individual, so anyone can take more or less time as they desire.

“Our process is much like TurboTax,” he adds. “One easy question at a time, and each question will then lead you through the process to collect and synthesize all of your information and decisions. Most people can complete it all with no preparation and no other documents needed.”

The downsides of DIY estate planning

If this sounds good to you, you wouldn’t be alone. Hicks says their service has seen a 50% increase in activity even compared with other busy times of the year, and Mary Kate D’Souza, founder of online estate planning service Gentreo, reported a 143% increase in membership over the past week alone.

And while there are certainly potential perks of using an online service (e.g., getting documents faster or saving money on lawyer fees), just be sure you understand what you’re actually getting: a set of unnotarized forms that will likely not include any sort of legal advice.

“Creating an estate planning document such as a will only gets you halfway there,” Sebastian says. “Pretty much every single state and territory of the U.S. requires that these documents be signed by witnesses and/or notarized.”

And on that note: While putting your online forms together can be done relatively quickly, it may end up taking you much longer to get those forms notarized, even if you have the option to do so remotely.

Lawyers urge clients not to delay their wills and trusts

If you’re considering working with a lawyer for your estate planning, the experts are advising you get to it—and fast.

“Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we have experienced a 30% increase in calls from people wanting us to draft powers of attorney, health care powers of attorney, and wills,” says family law and estate planning attorney Chelsea Chapman of McIlveen Family Law Firm.

Plus, beyond those new clients, estate planners are trying to juggle their existing roster of clients, too—who are, understandably, concerned.

“With the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re receiving an exponentially greater number of existing-client calls than usual,” says Judith Harris, an attorney and co-chair of the Estate Trust and Tax Group at Norris McLaughlin.

Although many law offices typically take several weeks to complete estate planning packages, exceptions can be made for emergency situations.

“In the event of an emergency, we can get documents done in 48 hours,” says Eido Walny, founder of the Walny Legal Group. “That’s one heck of a rush job, however, and would require skipping over a lot of other people in the process. As a result, clients who ask for that kind of turnaround should expect to offer all the cooperation that is asked of them and also to pay a hefty premium for the service. But it can be done.”

The final word

Ultimately, however you choose to get your estate planning done, there’s one key takeaway.

“Don’t wait,” Walny says. “Get the planning process started now. Estate planning is not death planning—these documents will help you during life, during illness, and also in death. Hopefully this crisis will pass, and when it does, these documents will continue to be valuable, unlike the 1,200 rolls of toilet paper hidden in the basement.”

The post COVID-19 Gives a Boost to Estate Planning: How You Can Get a Will Done—and Fast appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

5 Bad Omens That Could Curse Your Home—and Jeopardize Your Sale

February 26, 2020

mediaphotos/iStock

An outdated kitchen and a lack of curb appeal aren’t the only things that can keep buyers from biting. When it seems like there’s just no explanation for a perfectly good home sitting on the market, you might consider other possible causes.

Certain items, colors, and symbols have been thought to attract malicious forces to an otherwise peaceful abode. And while some people scoff at such beliefs, others take them seriously—and not just around Halloween.

“There are countless folkloric beliefs, and savvy homeowners are smart to acknowledge and respect such beliefs, whether they share them or not,” says Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and co-host of the “Squaring the Strange” podcast.

Whether or not you believe in bad omens, you might still be interested in covering your bases. After all, there’s no telling what prospective buyers of your home believe.

To get you started, here are a few supposed bad omens related to houses that you might want to avoid. Because it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

1. Empty rocking chair

Photo by Schumacher Homes

Irish legend says an empty rocking chair brings dark spirits, and if the chair rocks, the evil spirit is already here. This could be of particular interest to sellers in the South, where rocking chairs are often placed on porches. One look at a chair that’s rocking by itself could send a seller running. But that doesn’t mean you have to remove it when you show the house.

Radford suggests keeping the chair still by placing a stone or doorstop under the legs to brace it.

“It just takes a few seconds, and might help seal a sale,” he says.

2. Green-painted walls

Photo by Connor Mill-Built Homes

Pantone may have chosen Greenery for its official Color of the Year in 2017, but some people believe that green on the walls can bring bad vibes.

Back in the day, green paint was made using arsenic, and the presence of this toxic chemical is believed to have killed a number of people. While arsenic is no longer found in green paint, some still consider it bad luck to use it in the home.

If you want luck on your side, consider using blue paint instead. In the Southern United States, it was traditional to paint porch ceilings blue to keep evil spirits away.

“In many places around the world the color blue is considered lucky—originally associated with the sky and divinity—which is why many window and door frames are painted blue,” says Radford. “Blue windows likely won’t make or break a sale, but if you like the color and need to repaint anyway—why not?”

3. Red and white flowers in a vase

Red and white roses
Red and white roses

Chalongrat Chuvaree/iStock

Red roses mean love and white flowers designate purity and innocence. As innocuous as a flower arrangement like this may seem, according to Victorian superstition, combining the two in a vase means death will soon follow.

But that doesn’t mean you should nix all flowers during an open house. They’re vital to elevating the appearance of your home. Instead, professional home stager Krisztina Bell of Atlanta suggests going green by using succulents and other types of greenery throughout the house. We’re also partial to eucalyptus branches, monstera leaves, or a pothos plant.

4. Old calendar

Make sure your calendar is up to date! A calendar showing the wrong month is believed to cut short a person’s life.

If you’re still stuck on the beautiful art that accompanies the calendar, cut it out and frame it for decor. Just make sure your calendar is flipped to the current month.

5. Black cats

Black cat at home
Black cat at home

michellegibson/iStock

Your sweet black cat might be minding its own business, but to potential buyers who happen upon it, your cat could be a bad omen. Black cats have been associated with witchcraft since the Middle Ages; but in Britain, Japan, and Ireland, black cats are seen as bringing good luck.

“Some people love black cats, while others look at them with suspicion. If you have a black cat, crate him or her up while showing the house,” says Radford.

In fact, that goes for other types of pets, too. You want potential buyers focusing on your home, not your four-legged friend.

The post 5 Bad Omens That Could Curse Your Home—and Jeopardize Your Sale appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

How to Clean Out a Deceased Loved One’s Home Without Burning Out Emotionally

May 2, 2019

wernerimages/iStock

After the loss of a loved one, the thought of sorting through that person’s belongings can be heart-wrenching. But in many situations, there’s no time to delay, especially if you’re in a time crunch to get a late family member’s house ready to sell.

Before you embark on the emotional task of sorting through a loved one’s possessions, check out these tips from experts on where to begin the process, how to find support and resolve disputes, and—most importantly—how to take it easy on yourself as you grieve.

Give yourself time, but don’t delay the process

At a time like this, sorting through your loved one’s closets and cabinets is probably the last thing on your mind. Don’t push yourself too hard to get started before you’re ready, but don’t put the task off indefinitely, either.

“It’s very individual, but if you can emotionally, it’s better to start cleaning out the house sooner [rather] than later,” says Vickie Dellaquila, a certified professional organizer and author of “Don’t Toss My Memories in the Trash.”

“I’ve seen people that hold onto a house for years and years and work just a little bit at a time. For a lot of people, that’s harder because it keeps weighing on them.”

Dellaquila suggests starting with the easy stuff (e.g., things in the pantry or the garage). “Anything that’s low-hanging fruit that’s not emotionally charged,” she says.

As you begin sorting through sentimental items, give yourself time to grieve and experience your feelings; you don’t want to push yourself to make big decisions about what to keep and what to let go of before you’re ready.

“I remember when I went through my father’s items, there were days I just couldn’t bear to go through more of his things,” says Jen Robin, founder and CEO of Life in Jeneral, a professional organizing company. “There were some … items I was not ready to go through.”

If you find yourself hitting a wall, put items in a box and go back to them when you’re ready.

Ask for help

Clearing out a loved one’s home is a massive undertaking, but many people attempt to do it alone. Don’t underestimate the emotional (and physical) effort involved, and don’t be shy about asking for help when you need it.

“When we experience strong emotions, it’s harder to make decisions and think clearly,” says Lisa Zaslow, founder and CEO of Gotham Organizers, in New York. “Friends and professionals who are more objective about the situation can help get you through the process.”

Bring in a friend who can toss items like toothbrushes and expired food. For larger items, you may want to call in the pros. A professional organizer can manage the process from start to finish, while movers and trash haulers can remove the big-ticket items you don’t want, Zaslow says.

You can also work with estate sale professionals to help sell valuables, and shredding companies can come in to dispose of old papers and sensitive documents.

Keep it or toss it? How to decide when emotions are raw

When a loved one dies, the last thing we want to do is get rid of everything that reminds us of them.

“You don’t want to toss everything right away, because you’re not processing your emotions, so later you’ll think, ‘Oh boy, maybe I shouldn’t have let go of that,’” Dellaquila says. But, she adds, “you do not have to be a curator of your mother or your father.”

If you’re torn about whether to part ways with something, Dellaquila suggests holding onto just a piece of it—for example, keep a single place setting rather than the full china set. That way, you can hold onto an item that reminds you of your loved one without taking on something you don’t have space for.

Finally, resist the urge to keep anything out of obligation. If you won’t use it, let it go.

“One of my clients felt that she should keep some designer purses of her mom’s, even though she knew she would never use them,” Zaslow says. “Instead, I helped her sell them, and she donated the proceeds to a charity in her mom’s name.”

Get ahead of disputes

When siblings start sorting through a parent’s belongings, the situation can get tense. What if you both want that love seat or those crystal Champagne flutes?

One way to work through disputes: Take a gym class approach to divvying up items.

“The fair thing to do is put the items out and each person takes a turn in choosing one,” Dellaquila says. “I did that with my grandfather, who was an artist. We had a lot of sketches, and we went around and chose one, then somebody took the next turn.”

If you’re feuding over a single item that can’t be split up, you could attempt a shared-custody approach. But ultimately, you have to decide whether the item is really worth a bitter fight.

“Would your loved one really want you fighting over this china?” Dellaquila says. “It really is just a thing.”

For the living, death cleaning—a Swedish tradition that is catching on in the rest of the world—is one way you can spare your loved ones a future headache. The whole idea is to start cleaning out your clutter now. While you’re at it, you can even begin deciding who will eventually receive your possessions, beyond what’s designated in your will.

“A lot of people do that by putting little stickies on the bottom of items,” Dellaquila says. “Orange is for Mary, blue is for Mike.”

Give yourself space to grieve

As you make a plan for cleaning out the space, remember that you’ll also need time to step back to reflect and recharge. Biting off more than you can chew is a recipe for emotional burnout. Instead, give yourself limits from the start—maybe you clean only one room a day, or you work for just a few hours at a time.

“Creating a goal allows you to see small results and wins,” Robin says. “This is such a mentally draining process, so setting boundaries for yourself is very important.

“There is no easy process of getting rid of a loved one’s personal belongings,” she adds. “Make sure to take your time and allow yourself to feel all the emotions along the way.”

The post How to Clean Out a Deceased Loved One’s Home Without Burning Out Emotionally appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

The Very Best Real Estate Advice of 2018 That You’ve Just Gotta See Again

December 16, 2018

Navigating the home-buying and -selling process is kind of like diving into “Game of Thrones” for the first time: People speak in a language you don’t quite understand. There’s backstory you should research before you get started. And ideally, you’d have someone by your side who knows what’s coming and who can guide you through the experience.

Yes, buying, owning, and selling a home comes with its own share of drama and plot twists. But rest assured: We’re here to help guide you! That’s why we’ve doled out so much expert advice over the past 12 months on every possible real estate topic we could think of.

But what was most useful to you? In no particular order, here are our most-read advice pieces of 2018—the greatest hits that resonated with you the most and (hopefully!) have helped make your real estate journey a little less overwhelming. (Just click the headlines to read the full story.)

6 Home Maintenance Tasks You May Not Even Realize You Have to Do

Does anyone actually like the tedium of home maintenance tasks? We’re doubtful. (Although if you’re out there and single, call me!) But when you’re a homeowner, regular—and monotonous—maintenance comes with the territory.

And sure, you might think you know what you have to do to keep your house in order—mow the lawn, clean the gutters, sweep your chimney. But we guarantee there are some small things you’re overlooking—things that can create big problems and enormous repair bills.

Can’t-miss tip: Clean your refrigerator drip pan. Your what now? If you didn’t know your fridge has one of these, you’re not alone. It turns out, like with belly buttons, we all have one—and it can get pretty gross (and moldy) if you don’t clean it regularly.

But to clean your drip pan, first you have to find it. Just remove the kick panel at the bottom of your refrigerator, then use a flashlight to trace the defrost drain line to the pan. Pull out the pan carefully (it could be full of water), then empty and wash it with an all-purpose cleaner.

5 Mortifying Reasons Mortgage Applications End Up in the ‘Reject’ Pile

mortgage rejection
Don’t let your dream home dreams die with a mortgage rejection.

Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

You’ve scrimped and saved for your first home, and you’ve already mentally moved in. But then, in a cruel and humiliating twist of fate, your mortgage application is rejected. How could this happen to you, of all people?

According to a Federal Reserve study, 1 in 8 mortgage applications (12%) is rejected. And often those rejections are the result of something you could have easily avoided.

Can’t miss tip: If you’re a Venmo-only kind of gal, or you’ve avoided using credit cards (debt’s bad, right?), it’s time to rethink your fiscal approach and swipe that plastic.

Credit cards allow you to establish a credit history—proof of a strong track record of paying off past debts. (Of course, don’t forget to actually pay those bills.) Without that credit history, lenders will likely be reluctant to fork over loan money they can’t be certain they’ll get back.

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets—and What If You Don’t?

washing your sheets
Get thee to a laundromat.

iStock; realtor.com

Quick: When was the last time you changed your sheets? If you can’t remember, we won’t judge—you’re in good company (38% of Americans wash their sheets less than once a week). But after you read this, you might want to strip your bed, pronto.

This year, we launched a series where we put all aspects of homeownership under a microscope—literally. In “According to Science,” we take a look at the scientific reasons behind what’s happening in your home, the weird stuff that can be avoided, and, in this instance, what’s lurking under your covers.

“Body oils, sweat, and sloughed-off skin,” answers Bill Carroll Jr., an adjunct professor of chemistry at Indiana University. “We live in a world of pathogens, and not all are virulent enough to take us down. But can bedclothes spread disease? Kind of.” Yuck.

Can’t miss tip: We’ll let you read up on the bacterial Armageddon that’s happening every day you don’t wash your sheets. But if you want to slow down the invasion, just make a simple adjustment to your bed-making routine: Each morning, pull all the covers down from the fitted sheet and let things air out for a few minutes. This lets the sweat and moisture evaporate from your sheets.

7 Mistakes People Make Handling Deceased Family Members’ Estates

Don’t make these mistakes.

Punkbarby/iStock

This one might seem macabre, but dealing with a deceased family member’s estate is, unfortunately, a part of life. And not an easy one: Figuring out what to do with your loved one’s property and possessions, all while you’re grieving, can feel like a one-two punch. So it’s understandable that mistakes happen. We ID’d the biggest ones to avoid during this turbulent time.

Can’t-miss tip: When you’re going through a loved one’s belongings, it’s easy to overvalue the sentimental stuff and undervalue the things that are unfamiliar to you. Rather than unwittingly letting go of something rare and valuable, talk to an appraiser before you get started.

How Much Below the Asking Price Should You Offer on a House? Answers Here!

“I’d love to pay more for that house than I have to!” said no one ever.

Every home buyer wants to score a deal, and the most obvious place to start is with the house’s sticker price. Offering below asking is a common tactic, but not one that always works. How low can you go before you offend the seller—and ruin your chances of landing your dream home?

Can’t miss tip: In the same way you should know how long that leftover chicken parm has been in your fridge, you should know how long any house you’re eyeing has been on the market. If you’re familiar with the property history, you can get a better idea of demand for the house—and whether the listing is getting stale.

“Two days on the market? Probably not a good idea to go in with a lowball offer $50,000 below asking price,” Jennifer Carlson of Coldwell Banker in East Greenwich, RI, told us. “A whole year on the market, with price reductions? Go ahead and roll the dice. The longer a house has been on the market, the less of an upper hand the seller has in negotiation.”

The number of days on market is public on most online listings, and if not, any good real estate agent should know.

7 Decluttering Myths That Could Derail Your Dreams of an Organized Home

decluttering myths
Are your decluttering efforts doing more harm than good?

iStock

Decluttering seems like the last thing you’d be able to screw up. Isn’t it just sorting and tossing?

Well, sure, that’s a big part of it. But a good decluttering session (yes, there’s good and bad) hinges on more than just purging. And if you go into decluttering mode assuming you know how to do it right, you could end up with more stuff than you started with.

Can’t miss tip: We’ve been conditioned by organizing gurus like Marie Kondo to keep only the things that “spark joy” and to toss everything else. We don’t disagree entirely. But realistically, some exceptions should be made.

“Let’s be clear: My diaper pail does not spark joy, but it’s an essential item that is used every day in my home,” Laura Kinsella, owner of Urban OrgaNYze in New York City, told us.

Declutter with this thought in mind, she says: Is this item beautiful in my home or does it prove to be useful? If the answer is no, then it’s probably time for it to go.

The One Room That’ll Make Buyers Bail, Even If They Love the House

room that makes buyers bail
What dark secret is your home hiding?

iStock

You know the one. You’re touring a home, loving every aspect of it, and then bam! You turn a corner and see a space that just kills the whole home-buying mood.

Can’t miss tip: Got an empty room? You might think it’s a selling point: Look at all that space! The buyers can envision themselves in your home without your stuff in the way!

But “empty rooms can kill a home sale, especially if the other rooms are furnished,” real estate analyst Allison Bethell told us.

A room without furniture leaves the buyer wondering if it’s unnecessary space. Plus, any imperfections will stand out. If you have an empty room, stage it as an office, crafts room, or guest bedroom.

The post The Very Best Real Estate Advice of 2018 That You’ve Just Gotta See Again appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

So Nice We Did It Twice: The 2018 Real Estate Advice You’d Better Not Miss

December 13, 2018

Navigating the home-buying and -selling process is kind of like diving into “Game of Thrones” for the first time: People speak in a language you don’t quite understand. There’s backstory you should research before you get started. And ideally, you’d have someone by your side who knows what’s coming and who can guide you through the experience.

Yes, buying, owning, and selling a home comes with its own share of drama and plot twists. But rest assured: We’re here to help guide you! That’s why we’ve doled out so much expert advice over the past 12 months on every possible real estate topic we could think of.

But what was most useful to you? In no particular order, here are our most-read advice pieces of 2018—the greatest hits that resonated with you the most and (hopefully!) have helped make your real estate journey a little less overwhelming. (Just click the headlines to read the full story.)

6 Home Maintenance Tasks You May Not Even Realize You Have to Do

Does anyone actually like the tedium of home maintenance tasks? We’re doubtful. (Although if you’re out there and single, call me!) But when you’re a homeowner, regular—and monotonous—maintenance comes with the territory.

And sure, you might think you know what you have to do to keep your house in order—mow the lawn, clean the gutters, sweep your chimney. But we guarantee there are some small things you’re overlooking—things that can create big problems and enormous repair bills.

Can’t-miss tip: Clean your refrigerator drip pan. Your what now? If you didn’t know your fridge has one of these, you’re not alone. It turns out, like with belly buttons, we all have one—and it can get pretty gross (and moldy) if you don’t clean it regularly.

But to clean your drip pan, first you have to find it. Just remove the kick panel at the bottom of your refrigerator, then use a flashlight to trace the defrost drain line to the pan. Pull out the pan carefully (it could be full of water), then empty and wash it with an all-purpose cleaner.

5 Mortifying Reasons Mortgage Applications End Up in the ‘Reject’ Pile

mortgage rejection
Don’t let your dream home dreams die with a mortgage rejection.

Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

You’ve scrimped and saved for your first home, and you’ve already mentally moved in. But then, in a cruel and humiliating twist of fate, your mortgage application is rejected. How could this happen to you, of all people?

According to a Federal Reserve study, 1 in 8 mortgage applications (12%) is rejected. And often those rejections are the result of something you could have easily avoided.

Can’t miss tip: If you’re a Venmo-only kind of gal, or you’ve avoided using credit cards (debt’s bad, right?), it’s time to rethink your fiscal approach and swipe that plastic.

Credit cards allow you to establish a credit history—proof of a strong track record of paying off past debts. (Of course, don’t forget to actually pay those bills.) Without that credit history, lenders will likely be reluctant to fork over loan money they can’t be certain they’ll get back.

How Often Should You Wash Your Sheets—and What If You Don’t?

washing your sheets
Get thee to a laundromat.

iStock; realtor.com

Quick: When was the last time you changed your sheets? If you can’t remember, we won’t judge—you’re in good company (38% of Americans wash their sheets less than once a week). But after you read this, you might want to strip your bed, pronto.

This year, we launched a series where we put all aspects of homeownership under a microscope—literally. In “According to Science,” we take a look at the scientific reasons behind what’s happening in your home, the weird stuff that can be avoided, and, in this instance, what’s lurking under your covers.

“Body oils, sweat, and sloughed-off skin,” answers Bill Carroll Jr., an adjunct professor of chemistry at Indiana University. “We live in a world of pathogens, and not all are virulent enough to take us down. But can bedclothes spread disease? Kind of.” Yuck.

Can’t miss tip: We’ll let you read up on the bacterial Armageddon that’s happening every day you don’t wash your sheets. But if you want to slow down the invasion, just make a simple adjustment to your bed-making routine: Each morning, pull all the covers down from the fitted sheet and let things air out for a few minutes. This lets the sweat and moisture evaporate from your sheets.

7 Mistakes People Make Handling Deceased Family Members’ Estates

Don’t make these mistakes.

Punkbarby/iStock

This one might seem macabre, but dealing with a deceased family member’s estate is, unfortunately, a part of life. And not an easy one: Figuring out what to do with your loved one’s property and possessions, all while you’re grieving, can feel like a one-two punch. So it’s understandable that mistakes happen. We ID’d the biggest ones to avoid during this turbulent time.

Can’t-miss tip: When you’re going through a loved one’s belongings, it’s easy to overvalue the sentimental stuff and undervalue the things that are unfamiliar to you. Rather than unwittingly letting go of something rare and valuable, talk to an appraiser before you get started.

How Much Below the Asking Price Should You Offer on a House? Answers Here!

“I’d love to pay more for that house than I have to!” said no one ever.

Every home buyer wants to score a deal, and the most obvious place to start is with the house’s sticker price. Offering below asking is a common tactic, but not one that always works. How low can you go before you offend the seller—and ruin your chances of landing your dream home?

Can’t miss tip: In the same way you should know how long that leftover chicken parm has been in your fridge, you should know how long any house you’re eyeing has been on the market. If you’re familiar with the property history, you can get a better idea of demand for the house—and whether the listing is getting stale.

“Two days on the market? Probably not a good idea to go in with a lowball offer $50,000 below asking price,” Jennifer Carlson of Coldwell Banker in East Greenwich, RI, told us. “A whole year on the market, with price reductions? Go ahead and roll the dice. The longer a house has been on the market, the less of an upper hand the seller has in negotiation.”

The number of days on market is public on most online listings, and if not, any good real estate agent should know.

7 Decluttering Myths That Could Derail Your Dreams of an Organized Home

decluttering myths
Are your decluttering efforts doing more harm than good?

iStock

Decluttering seems like the last thing you’d be able to screw up. Isn’t it just sorting and tossing?

Well, sure, that’s a big part of it. But a good decluttering session (yes, there’s good and bad) hinges on more than just purging. And if you go into decluttering mode assuming you know how to do it right, you could end up with more stuff than you started with.

Can’t miss tip: We’ve been conditioned by organizing gurus like Marie Kondo to keep only the things that “spark joy” and to toss everything else. We don’t disagree entirely. But realistically, some exceptions should be made.

“Let’s be clear: My diaper pail does not spark joy, but it’s an essential item that is used every day in my home,” Laura Kinsella, owner of Urban OrgaNYze in New York City, told us.

Declutter with this thought in mind, she says: Is this item beautiful in my home or does it prove to be useful? If the answer is no, then it’s probably time for it to go.

The One Room That’ll Make Buyers Bail, Even If They Love the House

room that makes buyers bail
What dark secret is your home hiding?

iStock

You know the one. You’re touring a home, loving every aspect of it, and then bam! You turn a corner and see a space that just kills the whole home-buying mood.

Can’t miss tip: Got an empty room? You might think it’s a selling point: Look at all that space! The buyers can envision themselves in your home without your stuff in the way!

But “empty rooms can kill a home sale, especially if the other rooms are furnished,” real estate analyst Allison Bethell told us.

A room without furniture leaves the buyer wondering if it’s unnecessary space. Plus, any imperfections will stand out. If you have an empty room, stage it as an office, crafts room, or guest bedroom.

The post So Nice We Did It Twice: The 2018 Real Estate Advice You’d Better Not Miss appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.