Real Estate Information Archive


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Great Tips to Spring Clean Your Finances

by Masha Halpern

Now that spring is here, I read a great article in Kiplinger Finance that I wanted to share.

Take some time this spring to get your money matters in order by following these tips:

1. Toss unnecessary documents-Do this every year after you file your tax return. Click here to see what you should toss and what you should save.

2. Freshen up your insurance coverage.-If you're looking to cut costs, increase the deductibles on your car and homeowners policies. Ask your insurance agent about an umbrella policy.

3. Tidy up your credit report.-Once a year, you can request a free credit report at If you are planning on purchasing a home, it's important to check that your credit report is accurate and up to date. Errors on a credit report can hurt your ability to borrow money or get new credit.

4. Clean out your portfolio -Take a look at your investments. It may be time to sell some investments and purchase new ones. Evaluate your holdings. Don't forget to add to your IRA each year.

5. Plug leaks in your budget - When was the last time you tracked your expenses? Try using a budget worksheet to see how much you spend per month. It's the little charges that add up each month.

The above tips are something we should all do every year, especially if you are planning to buy a home.


Masha Halpern has been an agent in Chapel Hill since 1992. Contact Masha at or toll free at (877)478-4669 for all your real estate needs.


Twenty One Things Your Burglar Won't Tell You

by Masha Halpern


  1. Of course I look familiar. I was here just last week cleaning your carpets, painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.
  2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make my return a little easier.
  3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste... and taste means there are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me wonder what type of gaming system they have.
  4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes you to remove it. 
(Now, if I ever go away, I will ask my neighbor to bring in flyers as well as the newspaper and mail!)
  5. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway. 
(Good thing it rarely snows in NC!)
  6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too easy.
  7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on the second floor, which often access the master bedroom - and your jewelry. It's not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.
  8. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your door - understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off because of bad weather.
  9. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or offer to clean your gutters.
(Don't take them up on it!)
  10. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet. 
(Are they the ones who take our missing socks?!)
  11. Here's a helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms. 
  12. You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me.
  13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town, you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow of a real television. (Find it at http://www.faketv/
  1. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.
  2. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosy neighbors. 
(There's something to be said for nosy neighbors after all!)
  3. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to hear it again. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing. It's human nature.
  4. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm system and leave your house without setting it?
  5. I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my targets. 
(Glad I have loud dogs!)
  6. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you think to look up your address.
  7. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation.
  8. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the jackpot and walk right in. 
It's always useful to check with your local police department for more information on how to keep your home safe. If you would like more information on the Triangle area, click here.


Mortgage Protection Insurance

by Masha Halpern

If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, you might have looked into or received offers for mortgage protection insurance. While there are different variations, this type of insurance typically will offer coverage that will pay your mortgage in the event that you are not able to.

Mortgage protection insurance (MPI) is essentially life insurance that pays your mortgage if a certain event, such as death, disability or job loss occurs.

This type of insurance is not for everyone. Such factors as your financial situation and your health can factor into your decison to obtain this isurance or to forgo this protection. It is best to do your research to see if this might be something for your situation. Below are some pros and cons of mortgage protection insurance and some things to look for when doing your homework.

The way this insurance works, is that if in the event you die, the insurance company will send a check directly to your mortgage company. If you are disabled, suffer a job loss, the mortgage payments will also go directly to your mortgage company. The terms of these payment such as length in time will vary, typically for a few years.

Another benefit of MPI is most polices are issued on a "guaranteed acceptance" basis. " This means that when you apply, there will be only a few questions and you are accepted-guaranteed. If you are someone who typically is uninsureable due to health issues or work in a high risk occupational field, this is a great opportunity for coverage.

Some cons of mortgage protection insurance is that it is a declining-benefit policy, which means that payoff amount decreases as you pay down your mortgage.
In addition, some financial advisors recommends that homeowners consider other ways of planning for their future. 

If you decide to obtain this type of insurance, be sure to shop around and ask about specifics and services in additon to cost. Be sure to research their rating thru A.M. Best Co.


Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3




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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