Real Estate Information Archive


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Your Retirement Home: Is Now the Time to Buy?

by Masha Halpern

The last several years have wreaked havoc on many people’s plans for retirement. They have seen their nest egg dwindle and in some cases disappear. Many have pushed back the date they will stop working and some have stopped even thinking about what part of the country to which they plan to relocate. For some however, this may be the time to again begin putting their retirement plan together.

There is a tremendous opportunity right now to buy a home at a sensational price in certain traditional retirement destinations. Couple that with the fact that in other parts of the country the housing market is still experiencing falling prices and we may be looking at a perfect window of opportunity to buy your retirement home.

Example: If you currently live in New Jersey, you are probably well aware of two things:

  1. there was a lot of snow there this past winter and
  2. the local housing market is struggling

Point number one might have you dreaming of spending your retirement years in a place like Las Vegas or Tucson or San Diego. However, point number two might have you believing this is not the time to even consider the move: If I can’t get top value for my house, why sell now? Actually, this may be a very opportune time.

What caused prices to tumble throughout the country was the emergence of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). These discounted properties put tremendous downward pressure on the values of the other homes in the region. The states that are clearing this inventory rapidly are the states where prices will recover more quickly. The states that were first hit with the housing crisis (Arizona, Nevada, California and Florida) are now the first to show signs of a recovery because they are selling off their distressed properties at a faster pace than many other parts of the country. New Jersey, on the other hand (along with much of the Northeast), is seeing their inventory of distressed properties growing. That is why prices are continuing to soften.

What does this have to do with my retirement plans?

If you own a home where prices are falling and plan to buy a retirement home in one of the areas that are beginning to recover, you are sitting on an asset that is losing value and waiting to purchase an asset that is about to increase in value. That doesn’t make sense financially. Even if you are not 100% ready to move right now, it might make sense to sell the 4 bedroom colonial you currently own in New Jersey (or in NY, MA or WA) and buy a smaller home or condo in town. With the additional money from the sale, you could probably buy a beautiful retirement home in the area you always dreamed about relocating to. Even if you needed some extra financing to buy the perfect home, you are borrowing while mortgage money is very inexpensive.

How do I know if this applies to me?

As mentioned above, the primary factor determining where prices are headed is the number of distressed properties in the area. Look at the map below from NAR. It shows the amount of distressed properties about to come to market in each state in the country. If the state you currently live in is red, yellow or orange and the state to which you plan to retire is a shade of green, you should at least consider the move.

Bottom Line

There are definitely challenges for many in the current housing market. At the same time, opportunities exist for others. Sit with a real estate professional who can give you the right data to help determine whether such an opportunity currently exists for you.

Article from KCM Blog


"Voice of the Tar Heels" Woody Durham retires

by Masha Halpern

After 40 years as the “Voice of the Tar Heels,” play-by-play announcer Woody Durham retired Tuesday night.

Durham, 69, has called more than 1,800 North Carolina football and men’s basketball games in his career. UNC will hold a press conference Wednesday at 10 a.m. for the official announcement.

“You hear UNCsports and you think Woody Durham,” said Greg Tilley, who spotted for Durham at UNC football games this past season. “It’s that way for me and a lot of people who know or listen to him. He is UNC sports.”

Spectators at Kenan Stadium and the Smith Center could frequently be seen with headsets on during games, tuning into Durham and his call.

“I don’t think I’ve ever known Woody to be at a loss for words. Ever,” Tilley said. “But when you go into the room, every game for me it was a feeling of nervousness and excitement all rolled into one. When the game was over, you couldn’t believe it was over. It was fun and energetic.”

Durham announced his retirement one day after Harrison Barnes announced he would return for his sophomore season to the Tar Heels. His retirement comes as a surprise, as there was no farewell tour or announcement during the season.

“I think it was Woody trying to do it on his own terms,” Tilley said.

The 1963 UNC graduate began his career in broadcasting when he was 16 years old. He began calling UNC football and men’s basketball in 1971 and has been honored as the state’s top sportscaster 13 times.

Along with calling the Tar Heels’ games, he also hosted the radio shows Butch Davis Live and Roy Williams Live.

Durham was very much a part of the Tar Heel family. He called four UNC national championships and often wore a national championship ring.

His preparation for games lasted all week for football and basketball games. Durham made detailed charts to use during the games.

“He would give them to me on Wednesday so we could go to Thursday (football) practice to watch the team and make sure who was where and who was what,” Tilley said. “Everything was very detailed and meticulous.”

UNC basketball coach Roy Williams spoke at Durham’s induction into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, saying “Woody’s enthusiasm, his love for Carolina, is something that is extremely special.”

Durham’s son Wes calls games for both Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Falcons and was recently given the Georgia Sportscaster of the Year award.

Article By Jonathan Jones | The Daily Tar Heel




Avoiding Common Buying Mistakes

by Masha Halpern

It is easy for new home buyers to make mistakes unknowingly when purchasing their first home. And these mistakes can lead to the home owner losing their home.  Here are a few pitfalls and mistakes people make when buying a home that you can avoid!

1. The “No Money Down” Pitch.  Beware these online or cable TV ‘gurus’ who tell you how to get rich in real estate without a penny down. The only money these guys make is off of you if you buy their CD, book or attend a seminar. It takes experience AND capital to make money in real estate, whether it is one home or ten.

2. All Realtors are the Same, Right? Wrong. Holding a real estate license does not mean that the agent you are talking to is the best one in your market or for your situation. Get referrals, look at the agents sales statistics and interview potential agents carefully.

3. Depleting Your Savings. Most lenders require 20% or more down on a new mortgage. If you don’t have it, wait until you do. Completing wiping out your savings or borrowing a down payment leaves you in a precarious financial situation if something happens.

4. Ignoring Professional Advice. Unless they sound really off base, listen to your realtor and mortgage broker when they offer advice or guidance. You should also do your own homework when looking for the right neighborhood or figuring out the best mortgage package for your family. Let the professionals guide you with their expertise and experience.

5. The “Too Good To Be True” Monthly Payment. Low monthly payments can mean that you are building no equity in your home – even going in the hole on your principal balance. Make sure that you completely understand ALL the terms of your mortgage agreement – from interest rates to monthly payments, and what the consequences are.

6. Landing in the Wrong Neighborhood. Do your homework on the neighborhoods you are looking at. The city should have demographic information, school information and ranking and crime statistics. Is the neighborhood full of foreclosures? IT could affect the value of all the homes in the neighborhood. Make sure you understand the comps and the real value of your potential home site.

7. Buying Above Your Means. Tough times mean that everyone has to revaluate priorities. Be sure to carefully consider the features and prices of homes that will really suit your needs and allow you to live comfortably without spending your entire income on your monthly mortgage payment.

8. Foregoing the Home Inspection. Even if the conditions of your loan don’t require a home inspection, go ahead and spend the relatively small sum to get the home thoroughly checked out by an objective third party. You may uncover problems that the seller should be responsible for, and at the very least, you’ll go into the purchase with the right information about the condition of the home.

9. Acquiring More Debt Before Closing. With credit requirements continuing to tighten, rest assured that your lender will run additional credit reports right before closing. If you have made additional credit purchases – from a new car to furnishings for your new home, it can reflect negatively on your credit and your debt to income ratio. In some cases in can cost you your new mortgage, even if you were pre-approved.

10. Sinking Into Debt After Closing. Many people breathe a sig of relief once the home loan has closed and then immediately begin purchasing for the home or buying items they have been putting off while waiting for the mortgage to go through. Take it easy! You’ve just added a big responsibility with that mortgage payment.

Making sound judgements while you are purchasing your home will help you to keep the home for a long time. You want to respect the advice of professionals as well as do your homework and avoid these common mistakes, especially the “too good to be true” ones! 


How to Negotiate When Purchasing A Home

by Masha Halpern

Though negotiating is a big part of the whole process when purchasing a North Carolina home, there are some factors that remain true for all.

You’re in a strong bargaining position if: 

  • You’re an all-cash buyer
  • You’re already preapproved for a mortgage
  • You don’t have a home that needs to be sold before you can buy

These circumstances give you a little more power while you are negotiating. However, even if you are in a strong position, in a "hot" market, you may want to make your offer more desirable by offering more than asking price. When the market is "soft," homes tend to sell more slowly, creating a larger pool of homes from which to choose. On the other hand, when the market is "hot," there may be a limited number of homes to visit and the demand for them may be high.

Overall, here are some suggestions: 

  • Enter into negotiations with the maximum amount you are willing to spend firmly in mind.
  • Keep in mind (and add to the contract) some terms you can live without – then you can make concessions without compromising the items that are important to you.
  • Always have a few alternative homes in mind – knowing you have other options will help you stay objective during bargaining and may encourage the seller to be more reasonable.
  • Try to determine what the seller wants and needs. If, for example, the seller’s new home is not ready by the closing date, you might consider allowing the seller to rent back the home for a short time as long as your own schedule allows it.

You may be able to negotiate the terms as well a the price. These changes can help you financially in the long run.





Is a HOA the route for you?

by Masha Halpern

Many new home buyers have never lived in a community with an homeowner’s association. Home Owner Associations or HOAs are a regulatory board found in planned communities, gated communities, condominium complexes and subdivisions. A Homeowners association collects fees or “assessments” from individual home owners to cover certain expenses. For example maintenance of common areas, insurance and health or safety improvements.  A HOA also enforces rules and regulations set forth by the developer or property owner.

The Community Association Institute estimates that nearly one out of every six Americans lives in a community association.  Before purchasing a Chapel Hill home that is regulated by an HOA, it is very important to read their bylaws.  These are laws governed by the association. Always ask questions so that you can make an informed decision. Here are a few to help you get started:

  • Ask the HOA about parking limitations/restrictions, pet limitations/restrictions with respect to quantity, size and type, restrictions related to outdoor decor/furniture/grilling restrictions (for balcony/patio), and if there are any current outstanding assessments the new owner will be responsible for assuming.
  • Be certain to ask if there is any active litigation, as this may affect buyer financing, and also indicates possible red flags with property in general you will want your home inspector to do extra due diligence on.
  • If you don't agree with something in the bylaws/restrictions, do you have any recourse?
  • What do monthly HOA assessments/fees cover? HOA fees typically cover common ground concerns such as landscaping, pest control, pool and fitness center maintenance, guard gate/security services and common area taxes. They sometimes cover utilities such as trash, water or cable television.
  • How often do HOA assessments/fees increase (and at what percentage), so you can be prepared for rising costs down the road?  Also ask, will the members be able to vote on the rising cost?

There are a lot of positives and negatives in becoming a part of a homeowners association.  It may or may not fit into your lifestyle and ideas.  Read the agreement well before you consider a home with a homeowners association.  Ask the homeowners in the community about the services they receive because of the agreement.  The better you understand how all the locals feel about their association, the easier it will be for you to know if it is right for you.  Also you want to know how the association deals with issues that arise. You want to know what you are getting yourself into before you fall in love with the new North Carolina house!






Displaying blog entries 1-5 of 5




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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