Real Estate Information Archive


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Basements and Flooding

by Masha Halpern

April showers may bring May flowers, but for many homeowners, springtime storms can also bring flooded and wet basements. Walls and flooring can be damaged as well as personal items and can cost thousands to repair the damage. Below aer some of the causes to wet basements and some information on how to prevent water damage.

The first step is to locate where the water is coming from in order to treat and prevent the problem. Most wet basements or crawl spaces tend to be caused by surface water which is not adequately drained away from the foundation wall. Backup from sewer water sources can also cause problems as well as flooding from rain storms or nearby sources of water such as ponds or lakes.

The following tips are suggested to avoid water problems when building or buying a home:

  • If a flowing stream or dry ditch borders your lot, check with local planning agency authorities or a hydrologic engineer for potential flooding, whether in a designated 100-year flood hazard zone or in an area where lesser but more frequent flooding could occur or has occurred.
  • When househunting, pay special attention around the outside and the basement or crawl space for backsloping lawns and landscaping toward foundation walls. Also look for depressions around the foundation that can collect surface water and cause seepage into the ground.
  • Visit the house during or shortly after a prolonged or heavy storm. Check for water in the basement or crawl space. Ask the realtor about any known water problems--inside or outside--by the previous owner.
  • For houses with basements, carefully check for stain signs of standing water around the walls or seepage coming through the walls, especially along the wall(s) having the highest outside ground level. Look for whitish salt deposits on inside foundation walls left from moisture seepage and evaporation. For houses with crawl spaces use a flashlight and check for current or previous water ponding, mud, mildew, condensation on various surfaces, or sagging or wet insulation.
  • Check the basement and crawl space for musty odors and signs of mildew, condensation on surfaces, and unusually heavy rust deposits. Try to determine the source of the moisture--foundation wall seepage; capillary moisture from the crawl space ground; water or sanitary pipe leakage; poor crawl space ventilation; or combination of problems. Check the inside corners for cracks and separation of blocks at the joints from foundation settlement

If you have specific questions about construction or drainage matters, be sure to refer to applicable building codes and inspection/permit requirements; local subdivision and zoning ordinances and local flood damage protection ordinances and maps required by the National Flood Insurance Administration (NFIA). These sources are available at your local planning office, building inspector’s office, or library.



Automobile Relocation

by Masha Halpern

If you are relocating to a new home that is a good distance away you may need to make a decision about how you will move your car.  If you are relocating across country, you may not want to get behind the steering wheel for thousands of miles as well as put the mileage and wear on your vehicle.  Fortunately, there are some excellent options for you and your vehicle.

Some people who have older cars find that it is easier to sell their cars or donate them to charity for a tax deduction before they move.  If you are like most people, however, you will want to keep your car rather than going to the expense and trouble of purchasing a new vehicle once you reach your new home. 

Many businesses specialize in transporting your vehicle for you.   There are three basic methods of getting your car to your new home if you are not going to drive it yourself:

  • Moving your car in the same van that will haul your household goods
  • Using a professional auto mover
  • Hiring someone to drive your car for you

Moving your car in the same van as your household goods is as easy as driving it up a ramp and into the van, where it is secured in a separate compartment from your furniture and other goods.  A reputable moving company that provides this service will give an accurate estimate and references long before you drive your car on board.  Cars are heavy, though, so this can be an expensive method.  However, it is the method most guaranteed to put you back behind the wheel as soon as the moving van unloads.

Professional auto movers specialize in transporting vehicles on an open or in a closed truck.  Some provide hub-to-hub service (you will have to go to a central location near your new home to pick up your vehicle) while others provide door-to-door service (they pick up your car at your old home and deliver it to your new address).   Professional auto movers are highly expert at getting cars and other vehicles safely from one place to another.  The cost might be lower than the moving van method.  However, unless your car mover coordinates perfectly with your household goods mover, you may find that you reach your destination before your vehicle does.

If you decide to have someone drive your car for you, consider a company that matches drivers with vehicles needing transport.  In this case, the company should screen drivers carefully and assumes all insurance liability for the trip.  Drivers usually pay their own expenses after the first tank of gas, so the cost of transporting this way tends to be reasonable.  However, if you don’t like other people driving your car in general, this is definitely not the method for you.   Coordinating arrival time with your move-in date may also be a little more difficult. 

Be certain that your car will be inspected carefully.  Any pre-existing damage, marks, and wear should be noted.  The company you hire will provide insurance coverage for your car, so this pre-trip inspection is an important step.  It is a good idea to take pictures or shoot a video of your car before the move for your own records.

Here are a few tips for the move:

  • Disclose any mechanical problems your car is having, especially if you are going to work with a company that provides a driver to get behind the wheel for you.
  • Deactivate your car alarm if you are shipping your car in a van or on a truck.  This prevents the draining of your battery if the alarm is triggered while the car is being moved.
  • Make sure there is fuel in your car so you can drive it at your destination.  A quarter of a tank should be plenty.  If you are using a driver, you will probable be expected to deliver your vehicle with a full tank of gas.
  • Roof racks, bicycle racks and other non-permanent accessories should be removed if transporting in a van or on a truck. 
  • Remove valuables from the car.  If you have an automatic pass for commuting on toll roads, take it out of the car too so you do not receive any unintentional charges during the trip.

Moving your car is easy with the range of choices available today.   Compare costs and pay attention to the level of customer service that each company provides.  Choose a company that will transport your vehicle securely and on time, and you will be that much closer to a stress-free move.



Appraisal Contingency

by Masha Halpern

Whether you are selling a home or buying one, the property will need to be appraised and the value of the home is a major part in the process. The appraisal serves various purposes in a transaction for both buyer and seller.  It acts protect everyone who is involved in the sale; the seller, the buyer, the lender, and the insurance company.

At times, buyers who are find a home they want but are competing with other purchasers, may waive the appraisal contingency.  However, most all lenders however will still require an appraisal before any financing will be finalized.

Waiving the appraisal is a dangerous way to buy a house. Buyers can loose some of their earnest money if the appraisal does not come in high enough for them to obtain financing. Sellers can demand that some of the earnest money be used to compensate them for money lost due to financial losses as well as having to put the property back on the market because the buyer wrote a contract they can't fulfill.

If you are buying a home, it is important to remember that you wouldn't buy a car or even invest in stock without determining the true value of the object of your purchase. Purchasing a home should not be any different and failing to do so can cost you thousands of dollars.

Updating Kitchen Countertops

by Masha Halpern

If you are updating your home for sale or just want to make your current kitchen more modern, changing or replacing the look of kitchen counters can make a big difference. If replacing the countertops are not in your budget you may want to consider countertop resurfacing. This is a much more economical and easier option for homeowners and can give you the same benefits without the cost and effort of a complete kitchen overhaul.

This is a much simpler process than completely replacing the counter tops because you will avoid the mess and time involved with removing and replacing them, not to mention you can save up to 70% off the cost of replacing your kitchen countertops. A refinished countertop is durable and can extend the useful life of your counters for 10-15 years or more with basic care and maintenance. 

The changing of the counter top surface can help to give your kitchen a fresh new, updated appearance that can help your home to sell. Homeowners have many options for materials, from simple laminates to granite and even 'faux' stone.

Kitchen countertops are an important part of a kitchen not only because of their functionality but it also sets the style. Kitchens are an important when selling your home as buyers look for updated and functional kitchens that are move in ready.  

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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