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This is becoming a VERY popular sign in many Durham and Chapel Hill neighborhoods!

 

And if this is the first time you are visiting my blog, Ill first say, "Welcome!", and second share with you that this has been a year-long event! Monthly, quarterly, and now I can report, all year long, in Chapel Hill, Durham, and surrounding communities, we have had more homes sell and lower inventory as compared to 2011.

Our own T.M.L.S. ( Triangle Multiple Listing Service ) interviews Appraiser, Stacey Anfindsen and he shares news about our 23% increase year -to- date from last year, news of a great month for January 2013,decreasing inventory- currently at four months supply ( just a 'hair' above short supply ), and more! Watch this short video that gives the in-depth analysis of our monthly, quarterly and year to date figures...and please check the RSS feed so you can be up to date on local events, home ownership tips, and real estate news ( local and national ).

 

 

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Masha is a certified member of The Luxury Home Marketing Institute, participates in its annual Leaders in Luxury Conference, and works with The Institute’s thousands of members worldwide to share information about current listings. Masha is also a certified certified member of Keller Williams Luxury International and is also a member of Cyber Stars International – Top Realtors Using Technology – a group dedicated to taking the best and latest technological advances and applying them to real estate advertising and marketing for her clients in all price points. Masha Halpern can be contacted for a private consultation by calling 919-414-0337 or by visiting www.TheSmartMoveTeam.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning Your Spring Garden Starts Now

by Masha Halpern

If you're already tired of winter and it's drab appearance, you might be able to cheer yourself up by planning ahead for spring landscaping and gardening. Getting a head start on these springtime projects can save you time and money, and of course, your property will enjoy a boost in its beautification. So, let's take a look at some things you can get to work considering today.

First off, if you're planning to have a garden this spring, you may want to go ahead and list what you intend to grow, and then check to see when is best to start planting those items. For example, tomatoes grown from seed need to be started by the end of February in order to be ready to plant in the ground in late April. And here's where the savings comes in: A typical packet of tomato seeds costs between $2.00 and $2.75, and could yield fifty plants. Individual plants ready to plant can cost that much each!

Your list of the contents of your planned garden can be broken down into individual planting projects based on the best time to plant. You can also make sure the soil where you're planting is right for the plant itself. Tomatoes, for example, like a pH of 6 to 6.8, just a bit acidic. Testing the soil is easy to do, and you can balance it with lime or sulfur to get the right pH. In addition, for tomatoes, you'll want to work mulch and other organic material into the tomato area.

You can also begin to buy and stockpile other gardening necessities, like fertilizers, ties, tomato cages, and nets to keep the birds out. Doing it now, you may be able to find some discounts. And garden centers are very likely to be less crowded that they will be come April!

The same planning can be very valuable if you're planning on adding trees, bushes and other non-garden plants to your landscape. These are generally more expensive investments, and making sure you have the right tools and the best timing for planting can prevent unsightly disasters or less-than-beautiful results.

For more information or guidance, The NC State Cooperative Extension website lists offices across the state where you can get help with your plans.

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy ndrwfgg/flickr.com

Ensuring Your Windows Are Secure

by Masha Halpern

When you want the piece of mind of knowing your home is protected against burglars and intruders, you will most likely want to have a security company install alarms and monitoring devices. But, there are some things you can do that don't require a security company. Earlier we talked about securing doors. Today, let's take a look at window security.

Potential intruders are going to look for the easiest way to get inside your home. Open or unlocked windows, hidden from observers, on the ground floor, are always their best bet. Beyond that, windows that are easy to break or force open will be a target. It's a great idea to take a security survey of your home to determine what can be done to improve security.

Take a walk around your house and make a list of all windows and glass doors. Do they have locks? Are they secure in their frames? Are their frames secure? Are the windows hidden from neighbors or the street? Can you see expensive items through the windows? Wherever you see a yes to one of those questions, that's an opportunity for you to make improvements.

Perhaps the most sure fire way to secure a window is to install a metal window guard. Unfortunately, there are drawbacks, not the least of which is the unappealing look. And of course, you won't be able to get out of a barred window in an emergency situation.

In addition to standard locks, interior pin locks or key bolts are an excellent way to keep windows from moving in their frames. Wooden dowels or PVC pipe can keep sliding doors or windows from being opened. Make sure the frames themselves are not rotten or corroded. Replace any that are with the best quality material you can afford. Tempered Glass and Plexiglas are stronger than regular glass, and should be a serious consideration for your most vulnerable windows.

Here's some more ideas to consider:

  • Install Motion-sensitive floodlights.
  • Trim greenery to keep windows visible from the street.
  • Plant roses or thorny bushes under windows.
  • Keep expensive, valuable items out of sight through the windows.
  • Or Use curtains or translucent security film to block the view inside.
  • A dog that barks might keep you up at night, but might also scare burglars away.
  • Add inexpensive Window break alarms.
  • Remember to lock your windows.
  • Don't forget basement and garage windows!

For more information, State Farm offers this overview.

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy Joe Shlabotnik/flickr.com

 

 

 

It never gets old hearing positive real estate news! " Strong Trend in Home Sale Continues in Fourth Quarter in Raleigh Durham Chapel Hill Real Estate". You may have noticed a neighbors home go 'up for sale' recently and been amazed that shortly after a 'contract pending' sign appeared. Its true. Our market is doing much better and continuing to show improvement.

 

Local lenders are busy processing new loans on top of refinance loans and appraisers are finding more sales comparable properties available for appraising. Listen to Stacey Anfidsen discuss our November 2012 activity compared to the same month in 2011.

 

I have certainly noticed that my buyer clients are having to select homes much faster than before...and in some cases have less to chose from. Stacey pointed out that there were 3.4% less homes on the market in November of 2012 than in the same month in 2011. That makes sense! That all translated in to 28% more homes closing ( ie they actually sold ) in November 2012.

 

Is this a trend and how do we know this will continue?

November 2012 showings were up 15.2% and there were 21% more pending ( contracted ) homes in November of this past year 2012 than the year before. That all means that January 2013 will also be a STRONG closing month and so the trend will likely continue in to 2013!

There seems to be a growing confidence in the real estate market and people are buying a home or selling a home more than in previous years. This is all resulting in a 6.7% increase in the average sale price from November 20111. This does not mean if you bought a home in 2011 that it could have sold for 6.7% more in 2012; but it does indicate a growing confidence in the Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh real estate market home sales.

 

One other nice piece of news in real estate is that the avg time a house 'waited' before going under contract has gone down to 114 days in our area;down from 129 the year before. Great news as we look for the annual wrap up post coming next!

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Masha is a certified member of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, participates in its annual Leaders in Luxury Conference, and works with The Institute’s thousands of members worldwide to share information about current listings. Masha is also a certified certified member of Keller Williams Luxury International and is also a member of Cyber Stars International – Top Realtors Using Technology – a group dedicated to taking the best and latest technological advances and applying them to real estate advertising and marketing. Masha Halpern can be contacted for a private consultation by calling 919-414-0337 or by visiting www.TheSmartMoveTeam.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Five Questions to Ask Yourself

by Masha Halpern

So you've decided you need a new home. Perhaps you need more space for your growing family. Or you're downsizing now that the kids have grown. Or something closer to work to ease your commute. Maybe work is taking you somewhere else in the country. There are many reasons why people need to buy a new house. With that in mind, there are several things you need to have in place when you're ready to get down to the actual business of finding and buying that new house.

What Do You Want in a Home?
If you're going to live there, you need to be clear about what you want out of a new home. An easy way to organize your thoughts is to make a list. Make three columns: Must Have, Would Like and No Way. Get feedback for the list from everyone who'll share the house. Be reasonable, of course: You can probably live without a fifty-seat theater and a bowling alley in your next house. You may not be able to get everything you want, but you'll want to be able to live with what you can get. And, you can hand me the list and I'll be able to show you exactly what you're looking for. Maybe even with a bowling alley.

Where Do You Want to Live?
If you already know the neighborhood or street you want to find a home, you're way ahead of the game. But, if you're not sure, or if you're new to the area, this is something I can really help you with. A choice of neighborhoods should take into account your comfort and safety, the quality of nearby schools, availability of retail and restaurants, and distance to your job. Because I'm familiar with the area, I can help you select a neighborhood that will be the best of all of those details.

Do You Know Your Credit Score?
Get a copy of your credit reports, preferably one of from each of the three major credit bureaus. You need to know ahead of time if you've got any problems. Fix the problems that show up on the report. Banks will loan money to people who don't have perfect credit, but you're probably going to have to put more money down and prove you can afford your mortgage and insurance.

How Much You Can Afford?
And that's the next step. Exactly how much money do you have for a down payment. Ten percent of the purchase price is often quoted, but except in rare cases, a bigger down payment is going to be best. It's going to show the lender you're serious about the purchase, and in the long run, it's going to cost you less money to own the house. Take a hard look at your monthly budget and be honest about what you can really afford as a monthly mortgage payment. You also need to plan for fees and taxes, both annual and at closing. And once you sign the paperwork, the house is yours, along with any and all maintenance and repair costs. You really must have some sort of emergency fund set aside just in case.

Is it too Good to Be True?
It's hard not to think about the impact the last several years have had on the housing market and the ability to get a homeowner loan. Owning a home is a fantastic goal for anyone, but don't forget that if it sounds to good to be true, it isn't true. Far too many people have lost their homes because they made deals that sounded great in the moment, but wound up being too much of an investment for them.

Working closely with a real estate professional can help you avoid so many of the pitfalls and nightmares of home buying. My job is to make the experience as pleasant and problem free as possible. So whether you're ready to buy now, or just considering it for the future, lets work together to get you the best deal on your next home.

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.

Here is another way of looking at and understanding 'how' changes in property ownership laws could effect you. This information is also available and gathered by the National Association of Realtors. Here are some of the important information my clients, and you , will want to to keep handy when you buy and  when you sell property:

Mortgage cancelation relief is extended until January 1st, 2014.  This is for people doing short sales and not wanting to be taxed on the amount shorted to the bank.

Deductions for mortgage insurance premiums for filers making under $110,000 is extended through 2013 and is retroactive for 2012.

Effecting every homeowner is the energy efficiency tax credit of 10%. The total for this credit is $500 and  was extended through 2013 for improvements- but ONLY to EXISTING homes.

Capital Gains Rate: The C.G.R.  will stay at 15% for those making under $400,000/$450,000  After that tax rate will now be  20%.  The $250,000/$500,000 exclusion for the sale of a single family residence stays in place.

Estate Tax:  The first $5 million in individual estates and $10 million in family estates are now exempt from estate taxes.  After that the rate is 40%.

The market here in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Durham has improved significantly. Homes are selling faster and in some cases, seeing multiple offers. Having a great negotiator is important now, more than ever, in a real estate sale! My team, and as a result, my clients, have  been so successful because of this and  we had a GREAT year helping our clients find new homes!

If you are looking to buy or sell a home in Chapel HIll, NC or Durham, NC please contact me at www.thesmartmoveteam.com or 919-414-0337, or Masha@MashaHalpern.com

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Masha is a certified member of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, participates in its annual Leaders in Luxury Conference, and works with The Institute’s thousands of members worldwide to share information about current listings. Masha is also a certified certified member of Keller Williams Luxury International and is also a member of Cyber Stars International – Top Realtors Using Technology – a group dedicated to taking the best and latest technological advances and applying them to real estate advertising and marketing. Masha Halpern can be contacted for a private consultation by calling 919-414-0337 or by visiting www.TheSmartMoveTeam.com.

 

 

 

How the DC Deal Will Affect Your Taxes

by Masha Halpern

With political drama over the "Fiscal Cliff" over for now, home owners should know that several key tax provisions have been left in place. Mortgage interest deductions and mortgage debt forgiveness provisions remain in effect. In addition, you can continue to deduct the amount you pay for private mortgage insurance and take the energy efficiency tax deduction. These could have a big impact on any decision you make to buy or sell this year. Let's take a look at some specifics.

  • The mortgage interest tax deduction has long been a significant reason for people to buy instead of rent. Although there had been some talk about the mortgage interest tax deduction, it was never seriously in trouble.
  • Homeowners in trouble and considering a short-sale will still be able to tax advantage of the won't have to pay taxes on the difference between the principal they owe and the amount the lender accepts. That makes short-sales much more attractive to owners.
  • The Washington deal also reinstated a deduction that lapsed a year ago for people who pay for personal mortgage insurance, which is often required for borrowers who make less than a 20% down payment. The result of the tax credit will save some borrowers hundreds of dollars.
  • The non-business energy property tax credit offers up to $500 off your taxes if you make energy-efficient improvements. Retroactive to January 1st, 2012, it means you can use it on projects you do this year or did last year. There are a variety of restrictions and caveats, which you can read about in this article.

Taken all together, Real Estate experts expect the provisions will help the growing housing market continue to improve in 2013. That's good news if you're in the market. Call me at 919-851-1780 and we can work together to get you the best deal possible in the coming year.

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.

What Will 2013 Mean for the Housing Market?

by Masha Halpern

Ah, the last day of the year. Time to celebrate and begin looking forward to good times in 2013. Some of you have been waiting for a good time to buy and/or sell a home. And many of the experts are cautiously optimistic that 2013 will be a better time for that than 2012 was. Let's take a look at what they're saying now:

Home Prices should continue to rise, although modestly. That should mean an increase in new construction. And more homeowners, who have been underwater on their mortgages, will be comfortable putting their home on the market. Rental prices are expected to continue to increase, making buying a home, in some markets, more attractive. Foreclosures are expected to decline, while short sales will increase. This means fewer foreclosure bargains will be available.
 
Getting a mortgage will continue to be more difficult than it was before the crash, but could get a bit easier as more qualified buyers enter the market and competition for their business heats up. And new mortgage rules to be announced in January by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may also have an impact on the availability of mortgage credit. Congress may try to cut the Mortgage Interest Deduction. That would make it more expensive to own a house and might reduce home values.
 
Mortgage rates are expected to rise. They've been at historic lows throughout 2012. Analysts at the Urban Land Institute and Barclay's see rates going up slowly over the course of the year, driven by improvements in the market.
 
What all this comes down to is that the very best time to buy or sell in the coming year is going to be difficult to determine. That's just one of the reasons you and I should talk about your plans for 2013. Working together, we can identify the market factors and your personal situation and come up with a plan.
 
For more information, these are the sources for this post:

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy tlindenbaum/flickr.com

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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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