Real Estate Information Archive


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Five Pieces of Tech to Make Your Home Smarter

by KW for Masha Halpern

Five Pieces of Tech to Make Your Home Smarter

New home automation technologies pop up each year. Here are five pieces of currently trending tech that can make your home a little smarter:

1) Video doorbells.

See who is at your door, whether you're inside or halfway around the globe. In addition to cameras, these doorbells offer two-way communication, so you can tell that deliveryman to leave your package by the door.

2) Smart speakers.

These Wi-Fi-enabled speakers not only let you queue up your favorite jams on demand, but many also come with smart assistants, like Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant or Apple's Siri. 

3) Smart lighting.

Thanks to special lightbulbs and switches, you can turn lamps, overhead fixtures or exterior lights on with a simple voice command.

4) Smart fridges.

Ever been to the grocery store and forgotten if you needed eggs? With smart refrigerators, you can get a virtual peek inside your fridge from anywhere, so you'll always know exactly what you have on hand.

5) Smart security.

Instead of outsourcing your home's security, smart security systems allow you to take the DIY route with sleek sensors, battery backup systems and command centers that allow you to monitor your home 24/7 wherever you are.


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Copyright 2018 Keller Williams® Realty, Inc. If you have a brokerage relationship with another agency, this is not intended as a solicitation. All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Equal Opportunity Housing Provider. Each office is independently owned and operated.

Moving Tips for Seniors & People with Disabilities

by AH for Masha Halpern

“Hiring movers, downsizing and processing emotions are just some of the things you’ll have to consider when helping a senior or individual with disabilities move into a new home. Fortunately, there are some resources to help make the move easier,” according to Rachel Surdi in Lifestorage’s blog.

Her blog post offers moving tips that help you think through what it will take to relocate. Knowing who to call and what services are available to you ahead of time will save you lots of time and worry. Think of all the service providers you use as your “team”. We’ve put together lists of Senior Living Resources and Helpful Links to start your research. And feel free to explore Triangle Area Senior Living Communities and Local Senior Centers.

As a Seniors Real Estate Specialist ®, Masha is skillful at interpreting clients’ needs and helping them sift through important questions. We’d love to be a part of your team for any real estate related matters. Plus we can help you build your team by connecting you to other potential team members. Take advantage of our hard-earned knowledge of the area and strong relationships in our community.

Contact Masha to begin this important conversation. She will listen attentively and will help you create a plan for an enjoyable new beginning.

Cut Home Cooling Costs

by AH for Masha Halpern

Summer is in full swing and so is the North Carolina heat & humidity!  As our cooling systems work overtime, we were inspired by this article written by Tom Kraeutler about cutting your cooling costs. His suggestions range from simple, quick fixes to regular maintenance tasks.  

Need a recommendation for an HVAC service provider? As part of our concierge service, we strive to connect you with quality service providers for all your real estate needs and projects. Contact us at this link or give us a call at 919-951-1780.

We also find ice cream a very effective method of keeping cool. ;)  We’ve got plenty of recommendations for that as well!!!

6 Must-Do Outdoor Maintenance Tasks

by EM for Masha Halpern

Preventative outdoor maintenance is an important part of being a homeowner. Not only does it minimize the cost of future home repairs but it also allows you to enjoy the outdoor spaces you love. With pool party and backyard barbeque season upon us, now is the perfect time to get your outdoor spaces ready for the upcoming season. Check out these six helpful tips to get the job done!

Cleaning the Gutters

Fallen leaves, twigs, and other debris often clog downspouts in the fall and winter months, preventing water from moving away from the home properly. Having clogged gutters can cause water damage to your roof, fascia (the board behind the gutter), foundation, and basement. To combat the potential damage, it’s recommended that you clean your gutters twice a year. If you are going to do-it-yourself, spring and summer are great times to tackle this task. Grab your ladder and use a gutter scoop, plastic sand shovel, or a trowel to remove the gunk. Spare your lawn, and dump the gunk into a bucket or onto a tarp. After you’ve de-gunked, flush the rest of the debris out the gutters with a garden hose. This is also a great way to check if there are any leaks. Lastly, don’t forget to check the weather forecast before you clean- it’s much easier to clean when the gunk is dried out!


Repairing Outside Paint

Have you noticed any chipping or peeling on your home’s siding? Are your shutters and front door a few shades grayer or bleached-out? If so, it may be time to pick up a paint scraper to minimize damage from the elements and increase your curb appeal. If you’re not sure whether you should paint your house, check out this helpful blog. Once you’ve decided to go ahead and re-touch, use a paint scraper to liberally remove any damaged areas. Then, switch to a wire brush to get the remaining loose edges and debris off. Next, apply a thin, flat layer of wood filler that extends past the edges of the spot you want to fix with a putty knife. Let the filler dry for about 2 hours and then use a fine grit paper to sand. After that, apply a primer and paint. When painting, make sure to blend the paint in with the rest of the exterior. If the color is too light once it dries, consider applying a second or even third coat.

Preparing the Grill

Cleaning and maintenance are necessary for quality grilling. Now that the weather is getting warmer, it’s time to get your grill ready for barbeque season. Before you begin cleaning, make sure the dials are in the off position and the grill is disconnected from the propane tank (if applicable). Remove your grates and place them in a bucket of warm water and dish soap. Use a scrub wire brush and degreasing agent to thoroughly clean the grates. It’s also in good practice to oil your grates. Find out how using this article. After that, move onto the main part of the grill. Loosely cover the heating elements with pieces of tin foil for protection. Take a grill brush or steel-wool pad and scrub the inside walls and under the hood. The ash and debris should fall onto the foil. You may also notice that a residue that looks like peeling paint while cleaning. These are the remains of a harmless buildup of carbon from grease and smoke and should be discarded. Once your finished, wipe the walls with a damp paper towel.


Washing the Windows

After rain and snow, windows can look grimy and dirty because of water spots, streaks, and residue on the glass. Clean them inside and out by taking out the screens and gently hosing them off then leaving them outside for a few hours to dry in the sun. At this step, consider renting a steam machine from your local home improvement store to quickly clean your windows but if not, bucket with dishwashing soap and warm water and wash the windows with a cloth or sponge. Starting at the top, use a squeegee and pull in a ‘s’ pattern. After each stroke, wipe the squeegee blade with a rag. To remove water on the edges of the glass, use a damp chamois since it absorbs water without leaving streaks. The last step should be drying the windowsills with a rag.


Freshening up the Outdoor Furniture

Goodbye rust marks, mildew, and stains! Ensure that your outdoor furniture will look beautiful for years to come by periodically cleaning and freshening your pieces. Since outdoor furniture is constructed from a wide variety of materials, the way they are handled, cleaned, and cared for varies greatly. So, the first step in maintaining your outdoor furniture is reading the care label for instructions. After that, begin with some light cleaning like sweeping the surfaces and using gentle cleansers and soft-bristled brushes. Lastly, pick a sunny day to put in your elbow grease so your furniture will air dry faster.

Restoring the Deck or Patio

Whether your deck is wood, composite, or concrete, the constant exposure to the elements can result in mold and mildew that love to grow during the warmer months. Wooden decks are especially susceptible to rot and deck, so make sure to inspect and repair if necessary. Also, consider scrubbing the wood with an oxalic acid to kill microbes, and restain. For, composite decks, a professional powerwash is a simple solution. Make sure to check if your deck is suitable for a powerwash first though! To clean concrete decks, use vinegar or baking soda with water for a great natural and eco-friendly mixture that work wonders on outdoor, concrete spaces. For how to clean and maintain other types of decks and patios and more general tips, check out this comprehensive guide.

     Follow these outdoor maintenance tips to improve your outdoor spaces today!

Ways to Pay for Home Improvement Projects

by AH for Masha Halpern

Regardless of whether or not you are looking to put your home on the market, it’s important to keep your home in the best shape possible. Some projects are important for regular maintenance, such as replacing appliances or the roof, while others add value to the home such as updating the kitchen or adding on a screened porch.

We’ve found this great article by The Money Pit that lists 5 different possible ways of paying for these needed repairs or updates. Read 5 Best Ways to Pay for Home Improvement Projects by Tom Kraeutler.

If a home improvement project is something in your near future, Masha can help you determine which projects will add the most value to your home. She can also provide you with names from her great network of tradesmen to help get the job done.

Let us know how we can help with your projects & goals. Our mission is to not just sell houses, but to help families love their homes while building & maintaining solid roots in their communities.


Masha Halpern Boutique Real Estate is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website at for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets. Masha Halpern can be contacted for a private consultation by calling 919-951-1780 or by emailing

Age-Friendly Cities and Communities

by AH for Masha Halpern

Life is full of transitions. Retirement can be one of the most exciting, yet daunting transitions of all. When it comes to deciding where your retirement years will be spent, here are some things to take into consideration: Should you downsize? Do you need to sell your home? Move to a one level? Have a low maintenance yard? Find a retirement community offering plenty of activities to stay active and plugged in?

What about your town as a whole? Does it suit your needs for affordable living, transportation and social opportunities among other factors for quality of life?

Masha is skillful at interpreting clients’ needs and it's our pleasure to help you sift through these important questions. She’s also a certified Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES ®). As a benefit of Masha’s SRES ® affiliation, she has access to valuable resources that help keep you informed on issues that may inform your decisions.

Below is a helpful sheet that explains what it means to live in an Age-Friendly Community. Best of all, Orange County is an AARP community member and has a Livable Community Action Plan.

Call Masha to begin this important conversation. She will listen attentively and will help you create a plan for an enjoyable new beginning.

We would love to guide you through this experience with our area knowledge and personalized service. Check our website that is full of information about Senior Living in the greater Chapel Hill & Durham region. We welcome your correspondence. Contact us today!

Triangle Area Activities & Restaurants for Valentines Day

by AH for Masha Halpern

While Valentines Day has historically been celebrated as a day of romance since the 14th century, it’s modern spin has come to incorporate all types of love.

Whether you’re lucky in romantic love, bursting with rich friendships, or want to indulge in some self-love, spend the week of Valentine’s celebrating the power of love. Here are some of the Triangle area offerings that will put a little love in your heart.

The Morehead Planetarium in Chapel Hill’s show Carolina Skies offer several showings of a special Valentines edition and even an Anti-Valentine edition. Show dates & times are located on their website.

Check out this list of Valentine themed events in Durham. Offerings include chocolate tasting, cooking classes, speed-dating, Senior Luncheon, The Office Valentine Episodes Trivia night, arts & crafts classes, and much more!


Keep celebrating all week long with this list of Valentines activities for anyone - with or without a date!

The Open Table website has put together a Valentine’s Dinner list that includes 90 restaurants in Durham, Chapel Hill & Raleigh. Open Table even allows you to make reservations with just a click from their website or app.

And let’s not forget your home...if you don’t love your home, maybe it’s time for a new one. Realtors are matchmakers - introducing people to homes until they fall in love with one.



Why Working With a Real Estate Broker Benefits You - Part 5: Emotions

by AH for Masha Halpern

This is the last article of a 5 Part series about Why Using a Broker Benefits YOU! If you missed the previous articles, start here.

"A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work." ~John Lubbock

Just as there are many types of people, so are there reasons for buying or selling a home. No two stories are the same with emotions ranging from joy and excitement, to loss and uncertainty. Sometimes these emotions can get in the way, that’s where a professional comes in handy. Having a ‘buffer’ between parties to manage the communications, and being available to talk through all of the steps and processes can be very helpful. As helpful is to have someone available to listen to your concerns and fears and problem solve for you. That is also something Masha will do with you!

Reasons to Buy or Sell
For some, delving into purchasing or buying a home may mean the thrill of first time homeownership, or maybe it’s bittersweet because your family is growing and you have to leave behind your first home. Sometimes it’s finally getting into the neighborhood you’ve been wanting to live in and sometimes it’s the uncertainty of moving to a new place for a job. Loss, divorce, marriage, needing to be near elderly parents, and downs-sizing as life changes can feel like an emotional rollercoaster.


Sometimes there may be disagreement within a family as to what will best serve their needs and what it is they are looking for. A dedicated Broker can give you some perspective as a third party with no particular attachments to a house. Masha is great at taking your emotional needs into consideration while helping serve your real estate needs in a way that gets you closer to your goals.

Taking the time to discern what your ideal outcome would be allows Masha to customize your search or sale and then create a plan with you in mind.

Asking the Right Questions

Experience with past clients has given Masha the insight to know the right questions to ask. They may be house related, but they may also be related to life goals & aspirations or personality traits. Getting to know you serves as the foundation for your experience with our team. We enjoy working with people. We enjoy helping people with a process that can be deeply emotional. We enjoy guiding you through one of life’s major events - selling or buying a home. It all starts with a consultation meeting to hear what you have to say! Fill out this quick form to set up a time to talk with Masha.

Support After Closing

Because we get to know you and develop a relationship, we want you to know that we are here for you after  settlement has occurred! As a part of our larger family of past clients, we will continue to support you with your real estate questions, your community questions, and whatever else you need. We stay in touch on a regular basis and offer fun client appreciation programs and events! Check out our most recent ones here. Our hope is that you’ll entrust us with your referral to your family and friends for their real estate needs based on the experience you’ve had with us.

“Make sure everyone who works with you or for you feels the need to tell others about the incredible experience.” ~Chris Murray.


This is our goal- to give you such great service you will want to RAVE about us to everyone who wants to buy and sell a home in Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough.

This is the last entry of this blog series and we want to hear your comments about it!  Email us at Feel free to find out more about our team, our services and our community involvement on our website at

This is Part 4 of a 5 Part series about Why Using a Broker Benefits YOU! If you missed the previous articles, you can find Part 1 here (Money),  Part 2 here (Time),  and Part 3 here (Expertise & Ethics).

Real Estate Brokers are NOT lawyers and do not give legal advice but an important part of their job is to understand the partnership of real estate law and the many nuances for different types of real estate transactions and scenarios. Not only are Brokers required to go through a rigorous course load to obtain their license, but they are also required to take continuing education classes each year. Masha has also dedicated herself to becoming more specialized in certain areas of real estate and as such commits annually to taking courses that educate her in ways that benefit her clients. This is definitely a big advantage to you, and here’s why...

Changing Regulations

The North Carolina Real Estate Commission is our governing board. Their mission is “To protect the public interest in real estate brokerage transactions.” In order to do so, they continually make adjustments in the rules and regulations. With regular continuing education, Brokers are well suited to know the best practices to make your transaction go as smoothly as possible. Masha not only has over 26 years of education & training, but her Team Manager is also licensed and up to date on current real estate practices. With all members of her team up to date on their education, our clients are always offered the most up to date information which can help them make the best decisions for their families whether they are buying a home in Chapel Hill or Buying a home in Durham; or if you are Selling your Chapel Hill home, Selling your Durham home or Selling your Hillsborough home.


Have you seen the latest NC Offer to Contract & Purchase? It’s 13 pages long! And that’s just one document. There are also addendums and disclosures. Sorting through the sections, and not to mention the real estate jargon can be a bit overwhelming. Brokers understand these documents like the back of their hand and can make sure you understand what you are obligating yourself to when buying your home or selling your home.

Code of Ethics

“Honesty, trustworthiness, confidentiality, negotiation skills, and having the clients’ best interest” are all at the heart of the National Association of Realtors code of ethics. Interestingly enough it’s also what today’s buyers really want in a Realtor! Masha is a proud Realtor© and abides by this code at all times. At the end of the day our mission is provide our clients with their best real estate experience- and education plays a foundational role.


As with other professional fields, in the “real estate world” there are clear standards for Brokers. Brokers are used to working with each other in a way that is respectful and fair. Acting as a buffer for you, the Broker handles questions, concerns, negotiations, inspections, repairs and MUCH more and we do it in a professional and respectful way.

“To give real service, you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity.” ~ Douglas Adams

Next week will be the last in our series, Part 5: Emotions. Selling or buying can be an emotional process. No need for a therapist, we’ve got you covered.

Why Working With a Real Estate Broker Benefits You - Part 3

by AH for Masha Halpern

This is Part 3 of a 5 Part series about Why Using a Broker Benefits YOU! If you missed the previous two articles, you can find Part 1 here (Money) and Part 2 here (Time).

Would you trust yourself with a major automotive repair? What about with a legal concern? Most likely you are going to want an expert to help you. That’s exactly what a Real Estate Broker is - an expert in all things related to real estate. It only makes sense that you would want an expert to help you with such a large financial & emotional investment. Here are some areas where having an expert can really make the difference…



While a yard sign might attract some interest, would it attract enough interest? Interest from a credible and financially capable buyer? Interest that could lead to the best possible offer that ultimately results in a transfer of property ownership?

Masha and her team cast a wide net with marketing materials that focus on the most desirable features of your property and positioning your home for being noticed on various online and social media sites. Every home has a story and Masha’s team goes to finish line writing authentic and engaging marketing stories that highlight your home’s experiences to engage the best buyers!  Beyond attracting buyers, Masha also makes sure they are pre-approved for a loan and very qualified ‘ closeable’ candidates for you to select from so that you end up with the best buyer for your home - the one who can close!


Staging Your Home For Sellers-
So what does Staging Your Home mean? In the everyday sense of things it means to thoughtfully arrange your furnishings and decor to make your home look its best while selling it. This can mean anything from removing or thoughtfully adding items to enhance the home and draw attention to the home’s details ( and away from your belongings ), or even renting some furniture if you don’t have enough or it doesn’t enhance the home’s marketing. Staging can make a BIG difference.

So why do it?  The simple answer is that Staging a house helps buyers imagine themselves living in it.  The stats back us up on this. The National Association of Realtors found that 49 % of buyers thought staging made the house look better and 77% of buyers said it helped them imagine themselves living in it. So, If you want to sell your home faster, staging is a clever way to do it.!

A little investment in time and dollars can really give you more in your pockets in the end.  It helps you shine in competitive markets, as homebuyers are becoming accustomed to seeing staged homes—in person, on home decorating shows, and online (click for current local homes for sale).

With insights gained after working with buyers for over 26 years, Masha knows what appeals to most buyers. She uses this knowledge to help you stage your home so that its best features come to the forefront. Masha can  offer advice on where to place things, and bring some light decor touches in to a home as well as connect her clients to professional home stagers to create that warm and welcoming environment that every buyer is wanting.

Staging is not only about the decorating; it’s also about the stage we set in our marketing!

Our professional photographer will visit your home and work with us to decide how to showcase your home’s best features- get the best angles and lighting so that we can really show it off !  With online home touring continuing to be an important step in the home buying process it is crucial to have your first and best showing online! We have made a commitment to our clients that high quality images are a must because first impressions do matter! Your first showing is online- it’s how buyers make the cut and delete homes off their ‘visit’ list and quality photos really do make a big difference.


Advice on Offers for Sellers-
So your home is on the market and you have offers! Now what?!

How do you know if an offer is the right one? With so many factors (price, earnest money, closing date, etc.), it’s sometimes hard to tell what the bottom line is and which one is best for you. If you have more than one offer( yes, we get them ) and they have different terms how can you really compare them?  That’s where Masha’s expertise comes in once again! She’ll lay out all the facts for you, speak with your about the different scenarios and create a plan making sure that you feel comfortable selecting the best choice for your family. Often times it’s not just about the sale price- sometimes it’s the ‘every day’ factors that make or break the decision of which offer wins.

Features for Buyers-
Masha has a talent for finding homes that have just the right features to meet the needs of her buyer clients! Sometimes it’s the small things that can make a difference and other times they have a unique request but it all starts with a conversation where she listens to her client’s speak of their needs, and what they would like to achieve with their next home purchase. Sometimes it’s a unique request, or a dream of their children walking to schools with friends. Perhaps a second home that offers a stunning view!

Masha’s knowledge of local neighborhoods is immense- 26 years of it! That is a bonus for her clients as she has a very intimate knowledge of the communities in which she specializes.  Knowing the homes, designs and having experience with new construction and building homes, seeing neighborhoods develop, and being a parent in the local Durham Schools and Chapel Hill Carrboro schools allows her to help customize the search for a much more efficient list of homes; one that reflects her client’s needs and best interest. Her knowledge will help you spend more time in homes that are true possibilities.


Finding the home is one of the steps- Securing it another! One key feature high on the list of desirable services a great Broker can offer is strategizing and strong negotiating skills when preparing and presenting offers. Regardless of what kind of market it is- ( buyer, balanced, seller, limited inventory or any other key term used to describe the housing market in your area ), properly researching the most relevant home sales, preparing the best offer based on all of your clients needs, presenting the offer to the other Broker, negotiating the purchase terms as well as the myriad of details that follow related to  lending, inspections, and settlement details; a strong and detailed negotiator is a must! Masha has 26 years of experience and is a certified negotiation expert in her field! There will always be new things that come up but choosing to work with Masha Halpern, who has a vast knowledge of so many parts of the home buying process really sets her clients up for success! Masha is your partner guiding you by using her knowledge, negotiations skills, and technology with her easy & responsive manner toward your successful home purchase.

Next week is Part 4, where we’ll discuss how Education, Ethics & Real Estate Law play a role as one of the major advantages a broker can give you in your home sale or purchase.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 162




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Contact Information

Photo of Masha Halpern - Boutique Real Estate Real Estate
Masha Halpern - Boutique Real Estate
Keller Williams Realty
101 Cosgrove Avenue, Suite 200
Chapel Hill NC 27514
Direct 919-951-1780
Toll Free 877-478-4669
Fax: 919-928-9030

Masha Halpern of Keller Williams Realty provides real estate services in the Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham, North Carolina area including real estate services for buyer, sellers and those relocating to the surrounding areas of Apex, Bahama,Cary, Efland, Hillsborough, Holly Springs, Mebane, Raleigh, and Wake Forest. Search for homes in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham or the surrounding communities.  Request a market analysis for your North Carolina property.  I list and sell residential real estate, investment property, vacant land, lots for sale in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham, North Carolina area.

Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham, North Carolina real estate and homes for sale in North Carolina - Masha Halpern & The Smart Move Team