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Keeping Up with the Joneses

by Masha Halpern

Don’t be ashamed of the current condition of your kitchen, following a recent dinner date at your neighbor’s house.  Their kitchen may be beautiful and completely renovated, but, you too, can achieve the same look.  And, while Keeping Up With the Joneses, you are investing in the most fundamental room of your home.  While you may have a vision for your future kitchen, it is best to contact your local realtor first.  They will offer advice on what areas of your kitchen to focus on for the best return on your investment.

The most advisable approach to updating, remodeling, or completely renovating your kitchen, is to work with your realtor in seeking out a well-established contractor in your area.  The contractor you opt to hire, should have a background in both design, and construction.  They should not only be able to construct your vision, but should also be competent in offering advice and consultation, in regards to the design aspect.  By working with a local contractor, and a real estate professional, you can rest assured that you will not be over-improving.  They will recommend upgrading, focusing on trends that are typical for your area and neighborhood.  Together, your realtor and contractor will devise a strategy, concentrating on getting the best bang for your buck.

Upon meeting with the contractor you have chosen, you already have visualized the results of the renovation.  However, they will ask detailed questions, not only about your vision, but also about your expectations of remaining in the house.  They will also want to know the amount of money you wish to put into the project, and your reasoning behind wanting the job to be performed in the first place.  All of these questions are influential factors in the formation of the remodeling options the contractor will offer.  Once your options have been presented to you, consult with your realtor before making a final decision. 

Obviously, the reasoning behind your desire to remodel is key in establishing which decision is best, and most feasible, for your needs.  The return on your investment clearly changes if you anticipate putting your house on the market in the next couple of months, versus your plans of staying in the home for the next 20 years.  The money you anticipate putting into the design will also play a role in governing the completed project.  Again, your real estate professional will be your best asset in helping you to establish a sensible surety, to your kitchen’s remodel.

One way of procuring ideas of what is trending in your neighborhood, is to attend open houses that your realtor is holding.  This approach will help identify how your vision compares to what is hot in the market, or what is not.  While viewing other kitchens, focus on how they have been remodeled, and how they are arranged.  You will want to merge renovation, with functionality.  Be sure to speak with your real estate agent in regard to what you have seen, and liked.  They will be able to confirm, if indeed, this is representative of what your renovation, or remodel should entail.  Your local real estate agent is fully informed of, and knowledgeable in the current market values for your area.  They observe kitchens of all varieties, on a daily basis, and know which are selling, and for what reasons.  Heed their advice.

If you stick with a classic design without over-improving, and hire a reputable contractor, you cannot go wrong performing a kitchen remodel.  As your realtor will tell you, remodeling your kitchen is a great investment for your home.  Regardless of whether you are planning on spending a huge chunk of money, or just a small pittance, you will be able to makeover your kitchen, and bring it up to par.  Call your realtor today for kitchen remodel advice, and get the project started. Before you know it, not only have will you have kept up with the Joneses, but you have managed to surpass them.

Masha Halpern, Broker, CLHMS, GRI
Keller Williams Realty
Masha@MashaHalpern.com
919-414-0337  

Get your latest Home Value
Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

Masha Halpern and The Smart Move Team is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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 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.

Photos courtesy of Rfanelli (first photo), and Gnangarra (second photo) Wikimedia.

Community Activities to Celebrate the Holidays

by LC for Masha Halpern

Looking to get involved in some holiday cheer?  Want to give back to the community?  Then you won't want to miss out on some upcoming events in Southern Village. 

Holiday Tree Lighting, December 10, 5:30-6:15 pm

Come on out the evening of Tuesday, December 10 to officially welcome Christmastime with the lighting of the big Christmas tree on the Village Green!  Enjoy light refreshments and a concert by the Scroggs Elementary School chorus.  By the way, it's rumored Santa will be making an appearance ;)

Give Back to Your Community

Village Pediatrics Food Drive - Give today!  The goal of this food drive is to collect 500 non-perishable food items by Christmas Eve (monetary donations are also accepted as they will be used to purchase food).  Every donation that is made will go to the Inter-Faith Council, which is a local charitable organization that will distribute food to those in need.

Blanket Orange County - Help keep your community warm by participating in the 10th annual Blanket Orange County drive!  The event started on Thursday, November 21 and will continue until December 7, with the hope of achieving a goal of 300 new or gently-used blankets (the preferred size being single or twin). 

Drop off sites include H2O Cleaners in Southern Village, Aloft Hotel, Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, Orange County Visitor's Center, UNC Wellness Center and UPS stores (the Meadowmont and 15-501 locations).  For extra details on the event, go to www.BlanketOrangeCounty.com

 

Information about events shared in this blog post comes from the Southern Village Newsletter

Masha Halpern, Broker, CLHMS, GRI
Keller Williams Realty
Masha@MashaHalpern.com
919-414-0337 
 

Get your latest Home Value
Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

Masha Halpern and The Smart Move Team is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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 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.

 

 

Check Your Credit Before You Shop for a New Home

by Masha Halpern

Buying a home is a big step. A home mortgage is a long-term commitment, unlike any other item you’ll buy. To prepare for applying for a mortgage, take these steps to make sure your credit is in good shape.

The first thing to do is check your credit reports. You can do this once a year for free. Pull your records from all three credit bureaus. Read over them, and make sure all of the information is correct. For a small fee, you can also get your overall credit score.

If you find any errors on your credit report, work on getting them cleaned up before applying for a mortgage. It will make the process easier, and it could raise your score, which could get you a better rate. That can translate into saving thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan.

Common credit report errors include payments showing as late that really weren’t, and bills showing outstanding that have been paid off. Follow the credit bureau’s instructions to fix any errors you find.

Late payments can drop your credit score, but you can improve it by making all future payments on time. Experts also say that you can bump your score up by a few points by paying down your credit card balances. However, you’ll need to keep your balances down, so don’t charge new purchases to those credit cards.

Applying for new credit will also temporarily lower your credit score, so don’t buy any big ticket items, like a car or furniture, in the months before applying for a mortgage loan. Ideally you should not take on any new debt within a year of buying a home.

Finally, don’t close old accounts thinking it will raise your score. In general, you want to show a long, reliable credit history, so make sure you keep your oldest credit card open. Use your credit wisely, but don’t abuse it.

Making sure your credit is as good as it can be can save you money in the long run on a mortgage, as well as let you know how much house you can afford. This will let you shop for a home with confidence.

If you have any questions about checking your credit score or getting a mortgage pre-approval, contact me to set up an appointment for a consultation. I’d be happy to offer you suggestions on how to improve your score and help you find the home of your dreams.

Masha Halpern, Broker, CLHMS, GRI
Keller Williams Realty
Masha@MashaHalpern.com
919-414-0337  

Get your latest Home Value
Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

Masha Halpern and The Smart Move Team is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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 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.

Photo courtesy Marius Mauresan, Stock.XCHNG.

119 Friar Lane is Now Offered at a More Attractive Price!

by Masha Halpern

This darling Carrboro townhome situated nicely between Chapel Hill and downtown Carrboro has been TOTALLY RENOVATED within the past two months.  Has your attention been snagged?  Wait, there’s more to learn…

The townhome has a beautiful brick exterior, but its charming appeal does not end there.  The newly updated interior features freshly painted walls and trim, new laminate flooring (new as in installed September 2013!), and a handsome corner fireplace with tile surround and crown mantle. 

The kitchen is by no means deficient in the fantastic category, either.  With granite countertops, new oak cabinetry, and all new black appliances that were installed in September 2013, this all-purpose kitchen is ready for even the most experienced chef. 

Each of the two bedrooms bears new carpeting and paint.  Both bedrooms are complete with their own private full bath, each having been updated with new vinyl flooring, fixtures, and more. 

If you are teeter-tottering between renting and buying, or are simply unsure if this is the right time to enter the market, we would be happy to discuss any questions you have.  Click here to send us your questions or comments, and feel free to peruse other Chapel Hill/Carrboro properties for sale!

For more information on this property or to schedule a private viewing, contact Masha Halpern of Masha Halpern & The Smart Move Team by visiting www.TheSmartMoveTeam.com or emailing Masha@MashaHalpern.com.

Masha Halpern, Broker, CLHMS, GRI
Keller Williams Realty
Masha@MashaHalpern.com
919-414-0337  

Get your latest Home Value
Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

Masha Halpern and The Smart Move Team is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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 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.

 

Avoid These Major Home Buying Mistakes

by Masha Halpern

Right now, it’s a great time to buy a home. Properties are priced affordably, and interest rates are historically low. That doesn’t mean that you can go out and buy without thinking. You still need to do your homework and proceed with a plan.

After all, buying a home is likely the largest purchase you will ever make. Make sure you do it right by avoiding these major home buying mistakes.

Buying more house than you can afford. Spending more than you planned on a home may seem like no big deal, especially when you spread it out over a 30 year mortgage. Over time, however, those extra dollars each month can put a strain on your finances. Get preapproved for a mortgage so you know exactly how much you can spend, and stick with that figure.

Not having an emergency fund. Remember, once you own your home, you have to pay for anything that needs to be fixed. With any house, there will be expenses that you didn’t budget for. Make sure you have an emergency stash of cash to help you get through unexpected repairs.

Not getting an inspection before you buy. You’ve looked over the house thoroughly, and so have your in-laws, and all your friends. However, there still could be hidden surprises waiting for you. A crumbling foundation, bad electrical wiring, or hidden roof damage are among the things likely to be spotted by an inspector’s trained eye.

Not thinking about resale value. Remember that you will probably sell your home at some point. Choose a home based on what you want, and also consider what other buyers are looking for. Look for desirable neighborhoods, schools, and other amenities so your house will hold its value.

Trying to do it yourself. Buying real estate is a complicated process. You need a professional to help guide you through buying your home. That’s where your Realtor® comes in. It just makes sense to have someone who is an expert to help you out.

Don’t just stumble blindly through the home buying process. Take care to avoid these mistakes, and you’re more likely to end up buying your dream home, instead of getting stuck with a nightmare.

Masha Halpern, Broker, CLHMS, GRI
Keller Williams Realty
Masha@MashaHalpern.com
919-414-0337  

Get your latest Home Value
Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

Masha Halpern and The Smart Move Team is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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 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.

Image courtesy of Luiz Fernando Pilz, Stock.XCHNG

Fall Lawn Care

by Masha Halpern

Now that fall is here, you may not have to cut the grass quite as often, but you may want to take care of your lawn in another way. Here are three ideas to dress up your lawn and landscaping, and add a little beauty to your neighborhood.

  • Fertilize your lawn. If you only fertilize once a year, the cusp of fall is the best time. It's also a great time to sew a new lawn with cool-season turf like perennial ryegrass, fescues and Kentucky Bluegrass. The Virginia Cooperative Extension of Virginia Tech has an excellent guide to fall lawn care that covers everything from testing your soil to pest control.
  • If you have a garden, now's a good time to start planting for a fall harvest. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, mustard and arugula all grow wonderfully in later summer and early fall. And they'll help prepare your soil for your spring gardening. We've got roughly two months of freeze-free days, so don't wait much or slower growing crops might not have enough time to mature.
  • Plant flowers now, specifically annuals like asters, mums and Japanese anemones. Keep them watered and prune dying flowers regularly. Take care of your roses now, and you'll see a more beautiful fall. Remove all the dead stems and prune the rest back by about a third.  Add rose fertilizer and cover with clean mulch.  Only water if it hasn't rained in a week.

Remember that your lawn and landscaping is often the first thing potential buyers will see when they visit your home, so make sure that first impression is an excellent one.

Masha Halpern, Broker, CLHMS, GRI
Keller Williams Realty
Masha@MashaHalpern.com
919-414-0337  

Get your latest Home Value
Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

Masha Halpern and The Smart Move Team is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

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 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.

Photo courtesy of freestockphotos.biz/stockphoto/PetrKratochvil.

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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