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When you purchase real estate, you need to decide how you want to hold the title. Many closing agents make an assumption, and that assumption may come back to bite you later in life. In most states, you may title real estate in five ways: sole ownership, joint tenancy with the right of survivorship, tenancy in common, tenants by the entirety, and in a living trust. If one of you should pass, you may not be able to avoid probate if the title to your real estate shows that you don’t own full interest in the property.

Methods of Holding Title

The methods of holding title determine whether you are able to avoid probate in many states for your primary residence.

  • Sole ownership means that you own the real estate yourself. If you are single, you may have your name listed as the sole owner of the property. If you are married, you may still hold the title as the sole owner, but you would be the only spouse who is liable for the financial burden.

  • Joint tenancy with the right of survivorship means that at least two people by the property and have their names listed on the deed. Each person owns an equal piece of interest in the property. If one person passes, their share goes to the other person. If more than two people are listed, the decedent’s share is divided equally among all of the people listed on the deed. This is the only way that your primary home has a chance to avoid going through the probate process unless you hold the property in a living trust.

  • Tenancy in common is used when two people buy a property together. Generally, the two people are not married. Each person owns their share separately from the other. This is where closing agents and attorneys make the mistake of not asking the buyers how they want to be listed on the deed. If you own a property as tenants in common and one person dies, the real estate must go through probate. If you are married and do not want your share to go to your spouse automatically, then you would instruct the closing agent to list the owners as tenants in common.

  • Tenants by the entirety is only available in some states. This method of ownership means that both spouses own the property. One cannot sell the property without the agreement of the other. If a creditor is going after one spouse for a debt that is not owned by both parties, the creditor is barred from attaching a lien on the real estate.

The Living Trust

Regardless of how you hold title to real estate with your spouse, if the property is transferred to a living trust, the property then passes to your beneficiary postmortem. The property does not need to go through probate. However, if you use a pour-over will, which means that the property is not in the trust, but automatically transfers to the trust upon your passing, many states require probate before the property changes hands. If you are considering using a living trust, contact a probate attorney to help you set this up so that it is done correctly.

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The saying goes that you only get one chance to make a first impression and that applies not only to our personal and professional lives but also to real estate. Humans are sensory by nature, and those senses are linked to emotions that often determine our decisions.

When you have the opportunity to capture someone’s emotions, make them gasp when they walk in a room or see a home for the first time. If you can do that you’ve won the first impression – and made a great one.

As you begin the home staging process, keep this in mind and target those emotions through sensory input. Colors, smells, sounds, even the temperature, and humidity of the interior of the home can have a powerful impact on a buyer. This is where they will live their lives, raise their families, live out their retirement, tell their stories. Staging should make it easy for them to place themselves in each room and picture a life there.

This is how you make that happen.

Depersonalize to create a blank slate for buyers to write their own lives upon.

Your buyers want to be able to see themselves living in their new home, not someone else’s. So before you do anything, depersonalize it. Remove the family photos, the artwork on the fridge, the personalized plaque over your desk, and other “homey” items. Turn your home into a blank slate so that buyers can see themselves in the space.

Freshen up the interior with a new coat of paint.

A fresh coat of paint just looks nice, it’s relatively inexpensive, and when combined with cleaning and decluttering, it can really add some oomph to your selling power. However, when you decide to take the plunge and pick up the brush, choose neutral colors. Go with soft, inviting colors like off-white, beige, white, and pale gray. You can even use several complimentary colors throughout the house, but avoid emotionally charged colors like lavender, lime green, or pink.

Define the purpose of each room to maximize the living space.

Making every square foot of a home appear to be usable space is definitely a great selling point. An unused room with no real purpose can be turned into a craft room or home office. Transform attics and basements into family rooms, guest bedrooms, or libraries. When buyers can see the potential of a room, they can easily place themselves in it, and they also see that no space is wasted

Use lighting to your advantage.

The right light can transform a room. In fact, good lighting is at the top of most homebuyers’ wishlists. Letting outside light in can make a room larger, but interior light is also key. For maximum effect, use three types of lighting: accent (table, shelf, wall), task (reading, pendant), and ambient (overhead). Combine these three to create an attractive, inviting space that will draw your buyers in and make it feel like home.

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The more energy efficient your home is, the less you'll spend on electricity and other utility costs. As we roll towards the coolest parts of the year, optimizing your home for colder weather will help you cut your costs and get ready for the new season. Add the following steps to your fall preparations and you'll be ready to save money and energy this autumn and winter. 

3 Ways to Boost Energy Efficiency in Fall and Winter

Track Down Drafts: You may not notice them in the warm months, but drafts that seep in around your doors and windows can add to your heating costs once the cooler months arrive. Check your doors, windows and entryways for drafts before the cold weather arrives, and caulk or block any problematic areas. According to Allstate, the fastest and easiest way to check for drafts is to wait for a windy day, turn off all noisy appliances, then see if wind is seeping through your closed windows or doors. Other common areas that could let in cold air include your dryer vent, around your decorative windows and skylights and via your roof. Close these areas up and you'll spend less to heat your home. 

Get Cozy: Turning down the heat at night sounds simple now, but if you don't prepare your bedding, you'll get cold quickly. Invest in quality bed linens and incorporate down and wool into your home's bedding. These natural fibers allow you to have a more green home and let you lower home temperatures at night. Lowering your thermostat by even a degree or two at night will save you money every month and reduce your energy use. 

Control the Light: Your windows can let in sunlight in the morning -- then trap it inside, keeping your interior temperature comfortable without triggering the HVAC. To take advantage of the natural warmth of the sun, invest in room darkening curtains and get up early one morning to see where your home gets the most sunlight. Open the curtains in the morning to warm things up, then close in the late afternoon to hold the heat in. You'll use less energy each day, but still enjoy a comfortable home. Simply switching from summer sheers to heavier drapes will have a significant impact on the warmth of your home and allow you to conserve energy and lower your costs, too. 

Taking the time to prepare your home for winter will help you save money and stay more comfortable. You'll also be able to get the peace of mind that comes from knowing you're living a greener, more energy efficient lifestyle all year round. 


One exciting part of moving into a new home is dreaming up all the ways you will redecorate and make it your haven. Here’s a guide to picking the perfect paint colors and types for a gorgeous home.  

Part of choosing a great color selection is understanding what makes your colors work together so well. You want to pick and stick to one of three color schemes.

Here’s a quick art lesson for today:

Analogous colors are next to each other on the color wheel. These colors when used together allow one color to really stand out.

Monologous colors are shades in the same color family. This color scheme creates a soothing, calm feel to a room.

Complementary colors are opposite one another on the color wheel. The colors in this type of color scheme balance each other equally.

Before heading to the home improvement store for some paint samples it’s best to have the rest of your room’s decor picked out first. Once you have furnishings and accessories picked out you can find a shade for your walls that will tie the entire room together.

A general rule of thumb is:

  • If you choose a bright or vibrant color for your furniture, choose a neutral shade for your walls.

  • If you choose neutral colored furnishings you can bring in a bright, vibrant color for your walls.

When designing your entire home it’s best to think of the overall design scheme cohesively. Not every room needs to look the same or have the same colors. However, it should feel like a natural flow and progression as you move from room to room.

Now that you know your colors you’re ready to pick out your paints.

Have you ever wondered why there are so many paint sheen options? And if there is someone out there painting their house entirely with high gloss paint?

While I cant answer the latter question the answer to the former is this: the glossiness of paint directly affects how easy it is to clean.

Here a general guideline of where to use which type:  

High gloss should be used for high traffic areas that come into a lot of contact. Think railings and furniture. High gloss can be more costly per gallon but worth the relatively small investment in the long run.

Semi-gloss is great for places that come into contact with a lot of moisture. These are areas like cabinets and trim.

Satin sheen is great for bathroom and kitchen walls. It’s a great balance between a gloss and the matte finish many prefer for their walls.   

Eggshell is perfect for bedrooms and other rooms where they aren’t likely to meet as many messes or moisture as the bathroom and kitchen.

97 Metropolitan Avenue, Ashland, MA 01721



Full/Half Baths
Double Bonus! No condo fees and a great price for this attached duplex in popular Ashland neighborhood within short walk to Ashland Reservoir and State Park. Three bedroom town house style duplex with large open Kitchen/Dining/Living Room layout awaits your updates and personal touches. Large master bed room has its own bath, vaulted ceilings with sky lite and large custom double closets. Additional living space in finished lower level perfect for family/play room, exercise or office space. Breezy screened porch over looking back yard and conservation area. Roof ~2014, HVAC ~2003, hot water 2015. Very near town center retail district and 5 minutes to Boston commuter rail. Asking price reflects condition and updates needed. To be sold "As-Is". Each owner maintains their own unit, driveway, and yard. Exterior siding & roof maintenance and master insurance are shared expenses.
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