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Winter Tips for Homeowners

by Masha Halpern

While we still, technically, have a few weeks of autumn left, there's not a lot of doubt winter is setting in. Which means a lot of things, but don't let some simple home maintenance for the season slip your mind. As always, a few preventative steps now can save you time, money and heartache over the next several months.

Check the Pipes

If you've never done it, inspect the pipes inside of your home. Check the attic, basement and/or crawl space and make sure those pipes are well insulated. Make sure your garden hoses are disconnected as well. For more on preventing frozen pipes, check out this list of tips from State Farm.

Check the Walls

Cracks and holes in your walls and foundation can attract small, furry visitors seeking a warm place to spend the winter. Inspect your walls and seal up any openings you find. Those holes don't have to be very large; a tiny mouse only needs enough space to squeeze it's head through and then it's inside!

Check the Gutters

Fall leaves and ice can make for a disaster the next time it rains. Either check them yourself or have a contractor do it. And then have them cleaned out if necessary. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged roof, leaks in your foundation and mold problems. If you haven't had them checked recently, now is the time to do it.

Keep Mother Nature in Check

Make sure to trim tree branches and shrubs that are growing close to your windows. One good ice storm, and they become heavy clubs ready for the wind to blow them into the windows and shatter the glass!

Keep the Air Clean

You should always check the filters in your HVAC units once a month anyway, but now's a good time to do it if you don't keep to that schedule. Dirty filters are going to make it much harder to keep your home warm.

Reverse the Fans

If you have ceiling fans, you may be able to reverse their direction. Instead of pulling the warm air up to the ceiling, have it push the warm air back down.

Fireplace Safety

If you burn wood in a fireplace, make sure to have your chimney checked. Deposits can block the chimney, causing a fire hazard as well as a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. And make sure to store firewood at least thirty feet from your home to prevent another fire risk.

For more information about protecting yourself and your home in the winter, check out these links.

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photos courtesy ItEndsWithTens/flickr.com and KennyFerguson/flickr.com

An Improving Market Forecast

by Masha Halpern

While forecasting the economic future is still murky, there are signs of a growing rally in the housing market. Those conditions were the focus of discussions two weeks ago at the 2012 Realtors Conference and Expo in Orlando. Indicators such as housing starts, new home sales and existing home sales are all showing gains in contrast to the last four years.

And that means good news if you're selling or buying. Although, for buyers, there may be a limited window of time to act before the cost of borrowing for a house starts to go up. Lawrence Yun, the chief economist of the National Association of Realtors® believes costs will remain low through 2014, and prices to rise meaningfully over the next couple of years. "Today," he says in this report on Realtor.org, "is a perfect opportunity for moderate-income renters to become successful home owners."

And if you're still not sure, perhaps some of recent moves by billionaire Warren Buffet might peak your interest. Buffet, as reported by Businessweek, has been buying real-estate brokerages around the country and partnering with Brookfield Asset Management. The investments will be very profitable for Buffet and Brookfield if the housing market continues to improve. 

So what does this mean to you? Every market is unique, but in general, if you're looking to buy, you'll want to act as soon as you can, but you still have some time before we see any upward movement on interest rates. And if you'd like to put your house on the market, the time to make the best of the situation is coming. Ideally, you'd like to see the value of your home rise before it gets more expensive for buyers to borrow money. Whatever the case, I can help you stay ahead of the curve and maximize the value of your money.

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

October Triangle Real Estate Home Sales Continue To Rise!

by Masha Halpern

This may sound repetitive to some but 'Oh how sweet the sound'! October Triangle home sales continue to rise! Recent market indicators, shared with me through our TMLS, by local appraiser Stacey Anfidsen, report great news for our local market. Watch this TMLS video for all the great news!

 

Monthly indicators show that home showings are up 16% this month from one year ago. Sales continue an upward trend rising to 31.5% and a new high of 34% in the pending homes category mean homes are going under contract AND closing at higher percentages than in 2011.

How we know this is by watching the monthly absorption rate ( or monthly supply ) of homes. In 2011, the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding areas, had a nine month supply of homes on the market. It is typically considered a buyer's market when there is more than a six month supply. Anfidsen reports this month we have a five months supply- meaning the market is more balanced and slightly tipped in favor of sellers.

 

 You may already know this if you happen to be a current buyer and have tried to buy a home recently in Chapel Hill or Durham and been outbid in a competing offer situation. I am seeing more of this every day and I'm preparing my clients to be ready, knowledgeable of the daily market, and competitive with their bid. Our plan is working for our buyer and seller clients and I would be happy teach you the steps if you want to buy or sell in the next few months.

More interesting facts:  We have 16 % more new listings for sale on the market ; and an average day on the market time that has come down to 114 days from 123 days one year ago.More homes are coming on the market and selling faster when they do which means it is a GREAT time to sell your home! Note that inventory is selling and we have another month of declining inventory- 20 % less in fact. YES, that makes 11 months in a row, of decline in the number of homes on the market.Incredible news!

What does this all mean? Well, when you have inventory going down and sales going up, eventually prices will start to go up as well. Anfidsen notes two things to keep an eye out for to show prices are going up in the local market: The average list price of new construction is going up when it had been in a declining pattern, and the monthly supply of houses changing to a smaller number. Two years ago we had a 12 month supply and now it is five.

Basically its all good news if you are buying a home because there are a lot of new homes to see; they are moving faster; but they are selling- which also makes it a great time to sell! Even in what is traditionally a slower time of month; my personal activity is higher than ever!



Masha Halpern has been selling homes in Chapel Hill and Durham for 20 years and is in the top 10 percent of Keller Williams Realtors in closed sales nationwide. Masha is also certified as a Luxury Home Marketing Specialist and a member of kwLuxuryInternational. Call Masha Halpern at 919-951-1780 or 877-478-4669, if you are considering buying or selling a home.

Masha Halpern, A Luxury and High- End Real Estate Broker in Chapel Hill and Durham, NC receives Keller Williams Luxury Homes International Designation.


Chapel Hill, NC November 12, 2012 — Keller Williams Realty announced today that Masha Halpern, a powerful player in the Chapel Hill & Durham luxury homes market, has received the KW Luxury Homes International designation.

Masha Halpern, has been representing buyers and sellers of residential real estate in the Chapel Hill and Durham communities since 1992. Masha has a support team of four including a transaction coordinator, an office manager, a marketing specialist and a lead generation specialist. Masha has consistently ranked in the top 5-10 percent of her company’s region in closed volume production, and helps train fellow agents on using marketing and technology to effectively sell homes for their clients.

We couldn’t be more excited for Masha to have received this recognition based on her proven sales in our local luxury, historic and high-end market,” says the office’s team leader, Linda Forester.  “With more than 20 years of experience in serving affluent buyers and sellers, we know that Masha brings her clients a tremendous proven track record, influence, and the experience necessary.”

With more than 800 members, KW Luxury Homes International is the elite, luxury properties arm of Keller Williams Realty, currently the 2nd largest real estate company in the United States. The organization offers eligible associates extensive training, marketing and technology resources as well as elite designation as a Luxury Homes Specialist via The Institute for Luxury Homes Marketing. 

“The international network of Brokers  and access to THE best marketing materials for my affluent clients” are some of the KEY  reasons I joined the Luxury Division”, says Masha Halpern about joining KW Luxury Homes International.

Dee Shultz, the founder and chairman of KW Luxury Homes International adds: “We know that the vast majority of luxury property transactions – on both the buying and selling side – are driven through agent connections, and our agents are among the most well-connected in North America! With Keller Williams Realty’s network of 75,000 associates and our luxury-specific referral network, we serve our buyers and sellers at a higher-level.”

“With Masha Halpern’s track record of success and influence, along with the tools and resources that KW Luxury Homes International provides, we anticipate strong growth for Keller Williams Realty and KW Luxury Homes within the Chapel Hill and Durham high-end market,” says Linda Forester.

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 member of CyberStars 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.

 

Keep Warm and Be Safe

by Masha Halpern

Keep your home and family warm in winter is a vital concern for all of us. But, home heating can be problematic if you don’t take some simple precautions before we get into the frigid months. Now’s the time to make sure that whatever you use to keep your house warm is safe and operating properly. Combined with the fire safety tips we’ve talked about previously, you should be able to rest assured you’ve take all necessary precautions for a safe winter.

A furnace inspection is the start and is a vital step. If you have any doubts, have an expert handle the inspection and any necessary repairs. Make sure you change your furnace filters several times a year.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, in this pamphlet [pdf], suggests the following:

  • Be sure all furnace control and emergency shutoffs are in proper working condition. Old furnaces don’t have many of these safety features, which increases the need to have them professionally inspected.
  • Inspect walls and ceilings near the furnace and the chimney line for heat or discoloration.
  • Make sure the flue pipe and seams are well supported and free of holes or cracks. If you see soot near the seams, you may have a leak.
  • Make sure your chimney is solid, without any loose bricks or cracks.
  • And keep anything that might burn well away from the furnace or other heating devices.
  • Don’t attempt repairs unless you are qualified to do them.

If you’re using electric space heaters, make sure to keep them away from water sources. And only use extension cords designed to work with the power requirements of the heater itself.

Kerosene heaters need to be inspected just like a gas or electric furnace. Make sure rooms with kerosene heaters are well ventilated. Refill them outside and only when they’re cool. Don’t use cold kerosene, which expands as it warms up. And inspect the exhaust for carbon buildup.

If you have a fireplace, you need to have your chimney inspected once a year, and cleaned if necessary. Make sure the fire is out before you go to sleep. And never close the damper with hot ashes in the fireplace.

The key, as with any major home system, is to maintain it in top operating condition. Not only is this potentially life-saving, it can save you a lot of money making repairs when it comes time to sell the house.

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

Prepare Now in Case of Disaster Later

by Masha Halpern

Watching the struggles of thousands of people in the wake of Superstorm Sandy isn't easy, especially if you've been through a similar experience. But, it does serve as a good reminder to put together a disaster preparedness kit if you don't have one. Better safe than sorry, and it's not that complicated or expensive to be prepared.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which is hard at work in the wake of Sandy, has a suggested plan for putting a disaster kit together. Among the elements in the kit, they recommend the following:

• Assume you’re not going to have clean drinking water. Set aside three gallons of water everyone in the household, including pets. You may also want to keep a container of plain household chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper to make disinfectant or purify water.

• No electricity means you won’t have refrigeration, so have a three-day supply of non-perishable food. A manual can opener is probably obvious. Put aside extra pet food as well.

• A battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and weather radio.

• A flashlight. More than one won’t hurt.

• Wrenches and pliers to turn off utilities, such as water or gas.

• A whistle to signal for help.

• A dust mask.

• Plastic sheeting and duct tape to help rig an emergency shelter if necessary. If you enjoy camping, you may already have a tent you can use in an emergency.

• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.

• Local maps and a compass.

• Emergency chargers for cell phones. Solar chargers, inverters or emergency battery chargers may be the only way for you to reach loved ones or help.

• Batteries. Extra, lots and of the right sizes to power your emergency devices.

• Baby formula and diapers.

• Travelers' checks.

• Matches in a waterproof container.

• Prescription medicines and glasses.

Hopefully, your disaster kit will sit in a secure location and never be needed. But, if something does happen, you'll be glad you've taken the time to prepare.

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

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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