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Time Saving Tips for Your Move

by Masha Halpern

If you have ever moved before, you know that it can be time consuming, overwhelming and frustrating. Even a good moving plan can hit a snag. Being flexible is key when you are planning a move.

Here are some tips that will help you get organized and make moving day a lot easier!

1. Change your address and notify companies before you move. Start by filling out a change of address form in advance of your move. Doing this ahead of time can help you to avoid hassles like past-due bills, service lapses and even identity theft. It is also a good idea before you move to set dates to discontinue your utilities at your old address as well as arrange for these services to be turned on at your new address. .

2. Create a moving schedule.
It is a good idea to set up a
moving schedule a few months before you move. Set it up as a week-by-week checklist to manage the process and help to stay on track. A moving schedule helps you to keep track of the little details or things that may be over looked, thus helping you to avoid last minute headaches. 

3. Establish a packing system.
Packing is a major time consumer so thing about coming up with a packing system so all of your boxes end up in the right rooms when they get to your
new home. Many professional movers recommend that you use the color code system where you color code each box with a particular room to avoid any confusion with the movers. It is also helpful to give your movers a floor plan of your home with each room labeled.

4. Get rid of unnecessary items.
The less boxes you pack the less you have to move and finally unpack. So it makes sense to thoroughly go thru your items and get rid of the things you just don't need. Items such as unread books, half-empty cleaning products, clothes that you know you wont wear again should be given away or sold at a garage !sale. You don't want to bring the clutter to your new home!

Do you have any tried and true tips for a successful move? Share them with us, we would love to hear how you made moving easier!

 

 

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Home Sales Are On The Rise

by Masha Halpern

Home sales are finally on the rise! Sales of existing single-family homes rose in December for the third straight month! 2011 was not the recovery year it was expected to be, but 2012 is showing positive signs of a recovery. The upcoming spring and summer market should tell a lot.

The National Association of Realtors reported last week that single-family sales rose 4.6% in December. NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said, "The pattern of home sales in recent months demonstrates a market in recovery."

Year end totals show 3.78 million single-family homes were sold in 2011, up 2% from 2010. Two-thirds of 2011 sales involved properties priced below $250,000 and less than 10% of sales involved properties above $500,000.  If your home is on the market or if you plan to sell your home, make sure it is priced right!

Masha Halpern & The Smart Move Team can help you determine the value of your home.

Here's to a great year in real estate!

Masha

 

 

 

Signs That You are Ready to be a Homeowner

by Masha Halpern

It's a buyer's market in Chapel Hill but there is a lot to consider when purchasing a home. For example, how do you know that you are ready to take the leap? Here are a few signs of readiness, ask yourself these questions-are you ready?

  • Do you have your finances in order? Becoming a homeowner, especially in a difficult economy can be financially challenging. If you have created a budget and stick with it you are on the right path. Having good money-management skills are a must-have so that when you do own a home you will be able to have a smooth financial flow for monthly home expenses.
  • Do you have a sizable down payment of at least 20%? While this is a large amount of money to come up with it is important to have as you will start out with having some equity. Just a few years ago, homeowners could obtain a home with little or no money down, but the rules have changed. However, there are options out there for zero or low money down loans but if you have to sell your home before you expect you can potentially loose money and you will also need to pay for PMI (private mortgage insurance).
  • Do you have a steady source of income? Of course in a recession there is no real thing as job security but when you buy a home you are going to be required to have a reliable source of income to cover not only mortgage payments but all the other monthly and unexpected expenses that come along with homeownership. It is important to look at how stable your source of income is as well as having an emergency savings fund where you will have enough funds to cover these expense in case of a loss of a job or other emergency.
  • How does your credit look?  Having a good credit score will help to not only get a home loan but will also get you a lower interest rate on your mortgage. Hold off on any large purchases such as cars before applying for a loan as this could effect your rating. Also review your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com before even applying for the loan to check for any errors.
  • Are you ready for the responsibility of owing a home? In addition to the financial aspect of homeownership, you need to be sure you are ready for the other things that come along. Things like lawn care, upkeep as well as unexpected repairs need to be considered as part of owing a home. 

If you are ready to buy a home contact me today to help you find the perfect house for you and your family! 

 

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Good News for Luxury Home Sales in Durham and Raleigh

by Masha Halpern

I've got some good news for Luxury Home Sales in Durham and Raleigh! As we head in to a new year we are seeing our home sale prices INCREASE in the Raleigh Durham NC Real Estate Market!

 

Nationally speaking, we have always been more conservatively priced than other areas, and that seems to be what kept us from really dropping so far in the first place. Here is a graph to show how we stack up against other markets around the country:

http://www.luxuryhomemarketing.com/real-estate-agents/luxury-report.html

 

Locally, our numbers are stable ( or even a bit flat ) as compared to previous months. You can see in this graph that the last ninety days has been relatively  flat (not atypical in the fourth quarter of a year though).

 

http://www.luxuryhomemarketing.com/real-estate-agents/RaleighDurham.html

 

Local home owners contact me to check on their specific market value regularly since this figure rolls with the times. I am always happy to review relevant home sales with you, or someone you know, who is getting ready to buy or move.  I am one of a select few Brokers  designated as a Member of the Luxury Home Marketing Institute; which makes me uniquely qualified to assist with the special needs of clients purchasing luxury homes! Please contact me when I can be of service.

Weatherproofing for Winter

by Masha Halpern

Winter weather is in full swing in North Carolina, and that means that we are bundled in layers of hats, scarves boots and jackets. Have you done the same prep for your home during the winter months? 

Here are some easy weatherproofing strategies from Ilyce R. Glink that will keep your house warm and lower your gas/electric bills:

Inspect and maintain home heating systems

Get an inspection of your heating system done before the temperatures drop too low. Clogged filters or dirty air vents can reduce the efficiency of your heating system and raise your heating bill. An annual inspection can ensure that your heating system is working to the best of its abilities and that it won’t break in the middle of a winter snowstorm.

Reduce window and door drafts

Sounds simple but it's true. For the price of a tube of caulk, you can dramatically reduce your monthly heating bill. Especially if you have an older home, you’re probably leaking a lot of your heat out through cracks around your windows and doors. Older homes are also notorious for leaking heat through the roof.

Sears Home Services has a tip for checking for drafts or leaks: Hold a lit incense stick next to doorways and windows and watch the smoke. When you find leaks, seal them with caulk, and then watch for the savings on your heating bill.

Clean gutters

Homeowners know that in the fall gutters can clog with leaves but you need to pay special attention to gutter s in the winter as well. When water freezes on your roof, it can create an ice dam. Melting ice and snow can find its way under shingles and cause major leaks and roof damage. Prevent this damage by making sure your gutters are clean so that the water and snow have somewhere to go.

Insulate your water heater and pipes

Many homeowners may not realize that your water heater needs to be protected from the cold. An insulating blanket may be built into your water heater, but you should consider wrapping your pipes this winter. Your water heater has to work harder on the coldest days, and you can help reduce the energy required to keep your bath water warm.

Upgrade to Energy Star products

Energy star products will cost a little more but you’ll see results in the long run. Buying Energy Star products can require more money out of pocket upfront, but you’ll see a return from this investment through lowered energy bills and tax credits for certain energy-efficient appliances. (You may also be able to get a tax credit for upgrading your windows.)

What are you doing to winterize your home this year? Contact me for tips or to share how you take care of your home during winter!  Keeping warm and saving money is something all homeowners want!

 

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Chapel Hill Ranks high in High School and College Education

by Masha Halpern

Chapel Hill ranks high in both High School and College education.

UNC-Chapel Hill is once again at the top of the ranking of best values in public universities.
According to Kiplinger's Magazine, for the 11th straight year, UNC-CH is the nation's No. 1 best buy. Kiplinger's assesses value based on cost and financial aid, student indebtedness, competitiveness, graduation rates and academic support. A college rates high when it has a low sticker price, plenty of financial aid and low student borrowing.

Not only is Chapel Hill ranked high in public university education but it is ranked high in high school education. Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools have the state's highest SAT scores at 1,194, or 1,776 when the writing component is included.  The state average is 1,008, and the national average is 1,017. More than 1,200 of CHCCS students are enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) courses.  This participation has earned the district's high schools ranking in the Washington Post’s list of top high schools.  In 2011, Carrboro High ranked 145, East Chapel Hill High ranked 158 and Chapel Hill High ranked 165.

92% of last year's graduating senior class went on to two- or four-year institutions of higher learning.  CHCCS has North Carolina's second highest four-year graduation rate at 89.0% and the state's lowest dropout rate at .95%.

High quality education is another reason to consider living in Chapel Hill.  If you or anyone you know is looking to buy a home in the Chapel Hill area, please call Masha Halpern & The Smart Move Team. We will find the right home for you!

The $1,000 Mortgage Gift Program

by Masha Halpern

If you are looking to purchase a home in the North Carolina area you have definitely heard that it's a buyers' market. Yet another incentive is headed your way from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage!

Buyers who close on a new home and finance their mortgage with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage are eligible for a closing gift valued at $1,000! Buyers can choose from among many items in the online catalog. 
 
If you have already been preapproved by another lender, Wells Fargo will reward buyers for allowing them the opportunity to provide their own preapproval decision (generally within 30 minutes or less) so that  buyers can compare and ensure they are getting the home financing option that meets their needs. Buyers will even get a $50 Wells Fargo VISA reward card for allowing us to give a second opinion. 
 
 
Borrowers are eligible to redeem this promotion after closing on any new purchase or refinance loan secured by a first mortgage or deed of trust with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage ("New Loan") as specified above, subject to qualification, approval and closing. This promotion is not available for all New Loan programs and New Loan excludes loans originated with a broker or a correspondent lender. Contact a Home Mortgage Consultant to learn what programs qualify.


This promotion is not available with any other promotion, discount, or rebate. Only one gift permitted per New Loan. FHA New Loans are ineligible for a gift card and are only eligible for merchandise valued in the amount stated in this promotion. This promotion is void where prohibited, applies only to designated promotion recipient and is not transferable, subject to the terms herein.  Redemption period ends within 30 days after your New Loan close date. Gifts may constitute taxable income. Federal, state and local taxes, and the use of the Gift not otherwise specified herein are the responsibility of the Gift recipient. Please present your good faith estimate or preapproval letter at the time of your request for your preapproval. If you have a current lock-in agreement, this is not an inducement to transfer your loan. This promotion may not be combined with any other offers, discounts or promotions.  

Sound like something you might be interested in?  Contact me if you are looking to take advantage of this offer! 

 

 

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Five Renovations Mistakes You Don't Want to Make!

by Masha Halpern

Because homeowners know that updated homes are more eye-catching to potential buyers down the road, many times they are overzealous and get themselves into trouble. Dreams of remodeled and beautiful kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms turn into nightmares! Below is more information on how it happens, why people do it and, best of all, how to avoid making these mistakes in your home.

1. Gutting Everything
Make sure you have a well-set plan before you start your renovations, because you don't want to go in there and just clear everything out, when you might be able to work around some areas. Often people just start, and they think they're going to pull a piece of wallpaper off, and by the time the process is over, they've completely gotten themselves into a deep, dark hole that's very difficult ( and expensive) to get out of.

2. Using Cheap Materials
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to home renovation is that they try to be cheap when they buy materials. The bottom line is, you're going to get what you pay for. If you're going to do it, do it. If you can't afford to do it, wait.

3. Excessive Use of Duct Tape
People use duct tape because it's cheap and it's quick and it's easy, but it's definitely a temporary solution. Don't leave it up for more than a couple hours ... ever.

4. Inaccurate Measurements
Not paying close attention to the prep work for a home renovation project can spell disaster. Simple things such as cleaning the subfloor of all dust and debris before adding new flooring can make for a much smoother application.

5. Using the Wrong Tools
There is really three problems with using the wrong tool: You can wreck the tool, you can wreck the project you're working on, and you can wreck yourself.

If you have tips you would like to share, or if you need advice on the best type of remodeling project for your home, contact us!

 

 

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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

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