Real Estate Information Archive


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Do You Know the Value of Remodeling?

by Masha Halpern

If you're thinking about doing some remodeling, you probably know how much you'll likely need to spend for your project. But, when it comes time to sell, how much of your investment will you get back in the improved value of your home? The folks at Hanley Wood have the information that you want.

They've released the results of a nationwide survey, which includes specific data on the Raleigh metro area. The cost versus value report contains specific descriptions of various projects like a roofing replacement or remodeling a bathroom. The report provides an average of how much the job will cost, how much it will be worth in resale value and the percentage of the cost you'll recoup.

For example, roofing replacement for a mid-range home, costs an average of $17,302. The report indicates you'd recoup 66.9% of that expense, or $11,574, when selling the house. Remodeling the bathroom in an upscale home runs an average of $47,786 and is worth $28,910, or 60.5% of the investment. By reviewing the report, you can get an idea of which types of projects will be more cost effective. Some of the more cost effective projects include replacing windows, vinyl or wood on midrange or upscale homes with an average 75% return on the cost of the project. Conversely, a new home office in a midrange home, or a master suite addition in an upscale home, generally returns less than 55% of the cost.

The report itself is copyright 2013 by Hanley Wood, LLC. Complete data from the Remodeling 2013 Cost vs. Value Report can be downloaded free at The Raleigh area report can be downloaded as a PDF once you register on this link. You may have other reasons for remodeling, but if you want to be smart about your investment, this report can be very useful. And when it does come time to sell, be sure to let me help you get the most value from your home.

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

What do Credit Score Changes Mean for You?

by Masha Halpern

Owning a home is major investment in your financial future. Unfortunately, the last several years have been tough for a lot of people who would like to buy a home. So, it comes as good news that the way the three major credit bureaus calculate your credit score is changing to help people with limited or no credit histories. Under the change, debts paid in full or settle will no longer be taken into account. Previously, those debts would be a factor for up to seven years, even if the balance on them was zero. In addition, victims of natural disaster won't be penalized for negative accounts in the aftermath of the event. VantageScore is used by seven of the top ten U.S. financial institutions and four of the top ten auto and mortgage lenders.

FICO, the most used credit scoring model, may be making changes as well. Monday, they announced they would look into ways to take alternative records into account for people with limited to no credit histories. People who are trying to improve their scores should consider FICO's top three tips for repairing credit.

Check Your Credit Report – This is your first step to identifying what needs to be paid or corrected.

Setup Payment Reminders – Your best strategy for repairing your credit is to pay your debts on time.

Reduce the Amount of Debt You Owe – This sounds obvious, but even paying off a debt a little at a time can be a big boost for your credit.

You have to show lenders you are serious about being financially responsible before they’re going to be willing to give you a mortgage loan. For more about those tips and repairing your credit history, see this story on and this report from the Federal Trade Commission.

If you're ready to buy now, let's sit down and talk about what you want and need. And make your dreams come true!

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

8 Ways to Give Your Home an Edge

by Masha Halpern

You're ready to sell. The market is gaining strength. Home prices are climbing. The time is now. When you call me, we'll assess your situation, determine the value of your home and begin presenting it to potential buyers. I've had a lot of experience helping people make their home stand out in an active market. To get the most value from your home, you're going to need to do everything you can to display it at its best. The following tips are designed to do that.

  1. Make sure the house is clean! Clean carpets and floors, a fresh coat of paint, replacing broken or missing fixtures and fittings and making sure the kitchens and bathrooms are bright and shiny is a must.
  2. If you have furniture still in the house, make sure it is clean and neatly arranged. Eyesores, even if you love them, are best taken somewhere else while buyers are walking through the house. You may love it, but it might turn buyers off.
  3. Open the shades, pull back the curtains and pull up the blinds. Let the sunshine in!
  4. Make sure the air in the house is clean and fresh. If the weather cooperates, air out the house. If you use any sort of air freshener, use it lightly -- Don't overdo it! Too much is just as bad as not enough.
  5. Pets can be problematic. For example, some people may be afraid of dogs, while others may be allergic to cats. If possible, take your pets to animal daycare or a neighbor's house for the day. You may love cats, dogs or ferrets, but potential buyers may not. If the animals can go outside, keep them in the yard while buyers visit.
  6. Children can be a distraction as well. You want the buyers focusing on what their lives would be like in your home, not what your kids are doing in the kitchen or den.
  7. Make sure your landscaping is at its best. This means hiring a landscaping crew or doing the cutting, trimming, edging and weeding yourself. Either way, make your yard as beautiful as possible. Planting a few annuals in strategic locations can help enliven an otherwise drab landscape.
  8. Doing a little detective work might uncover some other ways to make your house an even better prospect. Visit the open houses for other homes of similar value in your neighborhood. You'll see how the home is being staged, and perhaps get ideas that can be valuable when presenting your own home. 

Every home is different, and so working together, we'll come up with a unique strategy that will put your home in front of the competition. Getting the ball rolling is as easy as a phone call (919-414-0337) or an email ( I look forward to hearing from you!

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

Protecting Your Hardwood Investment

by Masha Halpern

Hardwood flooring can be a great asset to the value of your home.  But to get the full value, your hardwood floors must be in the best possible condition.  Home owners who don’t take care of their floors soon have expensive and possibly extensive repairs to worry about. With that in mind, here are some ideas about protecting your investment.

  • Vacuum, sweep or dust mop hardwood floors at least once a week.
  • Clean spills and water from the floor immediately.
  • Use interior and exterior floor mats to collected dirt, moisture and debris.
  • Use area rugs and runners with slip-resistant backing in high-traffic areas.
  • Use pads under furniture legs and replace hard rollers with rubber models.
  • Keep animal nails trimmed.
  • Don't push heavy furniture or appliances across the surface.

Joe Harpole of Pro-Care in Nashville provides some additional insight in this video:

If you have hardwoods that are not in good condition, you have some options to improve the situation.  Older, craftsmen-style wooden floors can be worth the expensive of refinishing them completely.   Refinishing involves completely sanding off the previous finish before replacing it.  Here is a good article on refinishing over at

Alternatively, you might consider replacing wood floors that have been badly battered over the years. These days, there are a wide variety of options. In addition to traditional woods, laminate and bamboo flooring are popular.

Making sure your flooring is in great shape is a key to attracting potential buyers.  I can help you determine how much value refinishing or renovating your flooring can be. So give me a call, and let’s get your home market-ready now!

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

Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4




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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