Real Estate Information Archive


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How to Avoid Foreclosure

by Masha Halpern

When your in a foreclosure situation it can be quite scary and many homeowners just don't know of how fast a foreclosure can proceed. I’ve heard some heartbreaking stories in the last few months. The foreclosure process is painfully personal and can be painfully fast. Do you realize you and your family can lose your most precious asset in just a few short months?

So what happens in a foreclosure--and when? The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has prepared an easy-to-understand foreclosure timeline. Just to emphasize how pressing foreclosure can be, I’ve put that timeline into very human perspective below:

You miss one payment. You get a call or note from your lender. Not so bad, right? You’re just juggling the bills a little right now--no problem. You’ll pay as soon as possible. Not to worry.

You miss two payments. Your lender calls again. Where are the payments? You’re still trying to convince yourself that everything is OK, but you still can’t make the payment, either. Things have to get better, don’t they? You’re starting to worry, but you do nothing.

You miss three payments. You get a scary “Demand Letter” or “Notice To Accelerate” from the bank that says you must pay all the missed payments in 30 days. If you don’t pay or negotiate different arrangements, the bank can start foreclosure. Now you’re really worried, but you’re hoping it’s a bluff. Foreclosure takes forever, doesn’t it? So you again do nothing.

You miss four payments. You still haven’t paid or made other arrangements within that 30 days. The lender turns you over to the legal team, and now you’re responsible for all the legal expenses, too. Once again you do nothing--because you’re overwhelmed and terrified.

You get notice that your home will be sold by the Sheriff--and you’re in foreclosure. But it’s only been just a few short months! You’re told you can save your home if you make all the missed payments and pay all the delinquency costs. But where will you get all that money, and why would the lender accept other arrangements now? So you again do nothing. It’s too late!

You get one last chance to save your home. You can still keep your home even after the sale if you pay all the missed payments and all foreclosure costs. You can’t do it.

Your home is lost. Why? Because you didn’t take action to save it.

Although foreclosure may differ by state, this gives you a good idea of how foreclosure works--and how fast it can happen. HUD notes that a housing counselor could have helped even after the fourth missed payment. Doing nothing if you’re facing foreclosure is the worst possible thing you can do.

Doing nothing is not an option if you want to save your home. HUD advises that you be honest with your lender as soon as you suspect you’re in trouble. You can also contact HUD to find a housing counselor who can help. You don’t have to face foreclosure alone, please contact me if there’s anything I can do, I’m always available to assist with all your real estate questions, even difficult ones like this.




More Good Real Estate News For The Triangle Housing Market

by Masha Halpern

There is more good Real Estate news for the Triangle Housing Market. Here are some of the statistics shared by way of Triangle Multiple Listing Service:

New listings are down from one year ago. A decrease in listings means the market is tightening up. Inventory levels are down. As more buyers go under contract, there is less inventory for buyers to choose from. Pending sales are up in the past 12 months. This is a continuing trend for 2012. As we move into spring and summer, I expect this to continue.

Median sales slightly increased. Closed sales in the past 12 months are up 3.8%. Days on the market are still up. What this means is that home prices are slowly starting to turn the corner, there is modest growth, and that sellers need to be patient when trying to sell their home.

As a real estate broker, I love to see lower inventory of homes because it means I am helping my buyer clients find great homes, as well as meeting our homeowner clients goals by helping their houses sell.

I love when the months supply of inventory goes down. It means real estate in Durham, Chapel Hill and the Triangle area is selling. If you are interested in buying a home or wondering what the value of your current home is, call me. It would be my pleasure to discuss our services with you.





Updating Kitchen Counter Tops

by Masha Halpern

Are you getting ready to sell your Chapel Hill home or maybe you've just bought a home that could use some updating? 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 Chapel Hill home as buyers look for updated and functional kitchens that are move in ready. 




Inman News ranked Raleigh-Cary housing first on the list of Real Estate Markets to watch in 2012. 

The News & Observer reported in March that home sales in February were the best they had been in 4 years! That's an increase of 35% from the same time last year.

Masha represents clients that are currently under contract on 2 properties selling at or above listing price. She is also under contract on 2 other homes where the list to sale ratio was 99%! Although, it's still a buyers market, the real estate market is more competitive than it has been in years. Right now interest rates are low. Whenever interest rates increase, the amount of money a buyer has to purchase a home decreases. Its a good time to speak with Masha if you are planning to buy real estate in Cary, Raleigh or the surrounding areas of Durham and Chapel Hill.

The Triangle area when compared with nationwide data of other metropolitan areas showed above average price appreciation, job market, home affordability, home sales, distressed sales and other factors. Raleigh-Cary was the only area in the top ten located in the southeast region of the country. The Triangle has consistently received good rankings. Forbes recently named Raleigh tops for Most Wired, Safest City and Best Place for Business and Careers. These rankings attract the interest of potential buyers from around the country.

If you are looking to buy in the Triangle area, give us a call! Masha Halpern & The Smart Move Team has been representing buyers and sellers in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, Durham, Raleigh and Cary for more than 20 years! If purchasing also includes selling your current home, speak with Masha about the best way to manage both and give you the best service!



How to Sell Your Home When You Have Pets

by Masha Halpern

While you may love your fluffy, 4 legged members of your family, that doesn't mean that prospective buyers will too. Here are some tips for showing and selling your home when you have pets in residence.

  1. Remove your pets from the home during showings – It’s unlikely that you will relocate your pets during the entire season your home is on the market, so at a minimum, make sure that they are not present during open houses or scheduled showings. Take them with you or drop them off at a friend’s house.
  2. Completely remove litter boxes and dog potty pads - These items are unsightly and also have an odor, even if you are used to it. Try to avoid heavy air fresheners – they really serve to compound the problem. Make sure all pet areas are very clean and fresh, not fragrant.
  3. Treat pet stains on carpets and furniture – If home remedies don’t work, have the floors and furniture professionally cleaned.
  4. Replace carpets or furniture that can’t be cleaned – It may seem extreme, but if you are serious about selling your home, especially in a buyer’s market, you have to put your best foot forward. If you clean or replace items and they get damaged again, think about relocating your pets until you get the home sold.
  5. Seal pet doors and pick up pet toys and food dishes – Don’t leave obvious signs of your pet’s habitation in plain view. Chances are that some clues will remain that you have animals, but try not to be too obvious with toys, beds and dishes scattered about.
  6. Crate pets as a last resort – You may have no alternatives but to keep your pets in the home during showings – as a last resort, at least crate your animals and leave a note that they should not be disturbed.

Be understanding – not everyone loves to have animals in their home, and some people are allergic. Respect prospective buyers’ sensitivities by creating a neutral space where your pets and their food and accessories are not in the way of your buyers and agents.

Share any tips you may have for selling your Chapel Hill home with pets!




Spring Home Improvement Projects

by Masha Halpern

Spring has made its way to Chapel Hill, North Carolina! Soon spring blossoms will usher away the winter cold, and now it is time to take care of a few important improvements around your home. The cold, harsh weather can damage your home, so below are some spring home improvement projects that can help to reduce the damage that cold weather brings!

  • Repair storm doors and weatherstripping. Harsh winter temps and strong winds can take a toll on storm doors. Many times doors can become bent, broken or can pull away from the doorjamb. It is important to repair these damages as drafts can cause expensive energy losses.
  • It is vital to have your air conditioner serviced before warm weather. Having a professional check the system and make sure it is in good running condition before you start it for the season can save money and headaches. Be sure to change your filters as well as a good furnace filter can help reduce allergens. When filters become clogged with dust, efficiency is reduced. Change filters quarterly or sooner if they look dirty.
  • Clean gutters and downspouts. No one likes this chore but it is very important to make sure your gutters and downspouts are in good working condition before summer storms.
  • It is important to repair any water damage that might have occurred during the winter. Damage can be repaired easily on the outside of the home by filling the area with an epoxy patch, rather than replacing the damaged area. For small areas that need repair, use a chisel to dislodge most of the loose, rotted wood. Drill a few 1/4-inch holes into the damaged wood. Soak the entire rotted area with liquid epoxy "consolidant" to transform the area into a sturdy base for filler. Let the wood absorb it for about 5 minutes, then reapply, wait, reapply, and continue until the wood ceases to accept consolidant.  

​For more info on how to spring-up your home and if you would like some expert help on selling it contact me today!




Renting is now more expensive than buying a home

by Masha Halpern


This article out of today’s (4/4/12) Wall Street Journal reporting that on average, renting is now more expensive than buying a home that's comparable! 15 % more! Wow! That's a change from what's been reported for the last few years! And a welcome one at that!

Rental increases are due to a lack of inventory of available rentals.  Lower home ownership costs are the result of lower home prices and low mortgage interest rates.  The following article identifies the high/low cities across the country.


Im curious; what are  rental rates where you are? Do you ever wonder what it costs to rent vs own a home? Click here if you are curious to know what choices of homes for sale exist in Chapel Hill, Durham or surrounding communities?

​Often times when families move to new communities friends and family tell them "You should rent first, buy in a year or two." The advice is well-intentioned but it may not make financial sense- especially if you have a Realtor who can give you important data about communities  in Chapel Hill or communities in Durham, to help make the transition easier.  


The tax benefits are really something that homeowners benefit from- so from a financial tax standpoint, it can make sense to buy now. Your financial planner will be able to answer questions specific to your situation. Its worth considering a home in the Southern Part of Heaven! Masha Halpern will be delighted to speak with you about your specific relocation and home purchase or selling plans. ​877-478-4669 Direct Line.


Is a Real Estate Lawyer Necessary?

by Masha Halpern

While exciting, Real Estate transactions can be quite confusing.  It is a serious process that can take an ample amount of time and money to complete. When things seem too complicated it is a good idea to consider a real estate attorney. Below is some valuable information to help you decide whether or not you need to use a lawyer for your transaction.

How can an attorney help me?

A real estate attorney can offer many different services and some may specialize in certain areas but some general services that are typically offered are:

• Reviewing and outlining the real estate transaction process

• Reviewing any listing or agency agreements

• Drafting and reviewing real estate condition reports

• Drafting and reviewing residential offers to purchase and counter offers

• Assisting buyers and sellers through the property inspection and financing contingencies

• Working with title insurance companies and reviewing title insurance commitments

• Checking the settlement statement figures with you prior to closing

• Advising you at closing

There are always questions during this long involved purchasing process, therefore having an attorney available to answer your questions, big or small, will be an added bonus.

What are the costs involved?

The actual cost for an attorney varies by state and by amount of work required. Fee structures also vary (some lawyers charge by the hour, others by flat fee, some by both depending on the task.) but the typical range is $350-$1500.  While it is important to do your research and shop around for the attorney that best fits your budget, don’t let the price factor determine your decision. You may find the worst attorney that is the most expensive or you may find an excellent attorney that offer decent services at a fair price.

Where can I find a reputable attorney?

A good place to start in locating a real estate attorney is to ask for referrals from your local bar association, your real estate agent or your mortgage broker.  Word of mouth has great value as well; ask friends, colleagues and family whom they've had a good experience working with. The Internet is a valuable tool you can use to research also,locate an attorney in your area.

Many people find that purchasing or selling a Chapel Hill home is the most complicated and largest legal transaction they will make in a lifetime. Having your real estate attorney sitting right next to you to watch after your best interests will give a lot of stress relief during this sale time.




Displaying blog entries 1-8 of 8




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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