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Summer Vacation In Your Own Backyard


With record-high gas prices at the pump, it is forcing people to stay closer to home instead of driving or flying long distances for their summer vacation.  However, that does not have to mean any shortage of fun. The Chapel Hill area area is full of fun things to do with something for everyone! You can enjoy a fun and relaxing destination in your own backyard. Below are just a few of the wonderful attractions that you can enjoy-close to home!

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
250 East Franklin St
Chapel Hill, North Carolina  Phone: 919-962-1236

Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, one of the largest planetariums in the United States, is located on the north end of the campus of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Morehead Center Building and grounds, complete with a 68-foot, domed Star Theater and Zeiss Model VI Star Projector, scientific exhibits and classrooms, 24-inch Cassegrain reflecting telescope and observation decks, Visitors' Center, art galleries, rose gardens and the massive sundial were built for students of all ages with all interests
Ackland Art Museum
101 S Columbia St
Chapel Hill, North Carolina  Phone: 919-966-5736

The Museum's collection consists of more than 15,000 works of art, featuring North Carolina's premier collections of Asian art and works of art on paper (drawings, prints, and photographs), plus significant collections of European masterworks, twentieth-century and contemporary art, African art, and North Carolina pottery. The Ackland organizes more than a dozen special exhibitions a year.
Kidzu Children's Museum

105 E. Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514


Kidzu Children's Museum is a hands-on museum in the heart of downtown Chapel Hill where children 0-8 years old and the adults in their lives can safely discover, pretend, and play to their heart’s content. 

North Carolina Botanical Garden
Old Mason Farm Rd,
UNC Campus, Totten Center
Chapel Hill, NC 27599  Phone: 919-962-0522

The NC Botanical Garden showcases plants in artful, authentic displays. Roam the water gardens, inhabited by water lilies, goldfish, tadpoles and koi, to the Mountain Habitat Garden, filled with bluebell, blood root, mountain laurel, rhododendron, and azalea. A fairy garden with hands-on activities such as digging with play shovels, tic tac toe and hopscotch appeals to children.

Summer goes quick, so get out and enjoy what the Chapel Hill area has to offer and save money at the same time!

Bridge Loans


You may have never heard of a bridge loan before and that is probably because the housing market has been doing well for so long that most people haven't needed them as homes sold within days of being listed. Homeowners did not have to worry about paying for their new homes before they'd sold the old ones.  But in recent times, the housing market slowdown has given the bridge loan a boost in popularity.

What is a Bridge Loan?

Bridge loans are temporary loans to cover the difference between the sales price of a new home and a home buyer's new mortgage if the old home hasn’t sold. The bridge loan is secured to the buyer's existing home. The loan is  then used as a down payment on the new home, helping the homeowner to bridge the gap between buying and selling a home.

There are two types of bridge loans. The first pays off the mortgage on your current home and makes a down payment on the new one. This means that you pay the mortgage only on the new property, agreeing to repay the bridge loan when the old home sells.

The second type of bridge loan is more risky, allowing you to borrow against the equity of the current home to use for your down payment. The scary part is that while you're paying off a bridge loan, you're still responsible for the mortgage payments on both homes.

Pros and Cons:

The Pros
• You can immediately put your house on the market.
• Bridge loans often have a grace period, without payments, for a few months.
• If the buyer has made a contingency offer  to buy and the seller issues a Notice to Perform, forcing the buyers hand,  the buyer can move forward still move forward with the purchase without the contingency.
• It allows you to get your new home without the stress of waiting on the sale of your old one.

 The Cons
• Bridge loans cost more than home equity loans.
• Buyers will be qualified by the lender to own two homes and many buyers cannot qualify for this.
• You will essentially have two mortgage payments PLUS interest.   Not the best situation for the long term.

Although there are cons that need to be considered with this type of loan as well as other short-term mortgage financing, they may be necessary when home buyers land in tight spot. Do your research and check with your mortgage consultant to explore the options that work best for your situation.

When you decide to retire that doesn’t mean your brain has to retire too! In fact your brain needs more stimulation than ever. The good thing about retirement is that finally, you have the time to supply the required intellectual input. Keep in mind that the location that you decide to pick to retire can be key to that process. Most retirees want to continue learning and there are several communities that boast thriving intellectual centers where cultural activities keep residents (and their brains) as busy and interested as they want to be.

According to the U.S. News and World Report, they consulted their list of more than 1,000 Best Places to Retire and came up with 10 retirement destinations that attract highly educated folks.  Chapel Hill, N.C. was on that list of the most brainiest places to retire. Residents might spend their evenings paddling out in kayaks to watch the stars with an astronomy educator from the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

One of the factors for Chapel Hill  being selected for this list is the vast cultural attractions throughout the area. Chapel Hill offers a multitude of activities for residents and tourists. The University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provides the ability to look at one of the finest universities for higher education in the United States that also has three art museums. The North Carolina Botanical Garden is the largest natural botanical garden in the southeast. In addition, the area offers many Museums,Planetariums and Centers for Performing Arts.

Other cities across our nation that made the brainiest places to retire list:

• Ann Arbor, Mich.
• Berkeley, Calif.
• Boulder, Colo.
• Brookline, Mass.
• Chapel Hill, N.C.
• Hoboken, N.J.
• Lake Oswego, Ore.
• Reston, Va.
• Upper St. Clair, Pa.
• West Lafayette, Ind.

BBQ Safety


Summertime means more time spent outside and more meals cooked on the grill.  However, before you do it’s a good idea to go over a few simple safety tips to ensure that your trip to the barbecue does not end with a trip to the hospital.

Food Safety- There are a few things to keep in mind when cooking out.

• The safe temperature for food is below 40 degrees and above 140.  If food is kept outside of the safe range you risk food poisoning.
• Foods should be refrigerated within an hour of when they finish cooking.
• While you might like that steak really rare, remember that undercooked meats can give rise to several food borne illnesses that would ruin a cook out.
• With that said, don’t overcook the meat either. Studies have found that a cancer causing agent, heterocyclic amines, can be found in the blackened charred meat.  Better to avoid it.

Grill safety: Before you start up the grill remember the following:

No matter what kind of grill you are using, keep a fire extinguisher near by.  Never wear loose shirts or sleeves that might catch fire.  Finally, keep flammable things like gasoline and other flammable substances that don’t need to be there, away from your grill.  

 Charcoal grills:
• Charcoal grills must placed on a level spot away from vegetation and OUTSIDE, where there is proper ventilation.
• Use only lighter fluid on charcoal.  Don’t substitute kerosene or gasoline.  What might sound like a good idea at the time, will ruin the food and possibly cause and explosion.
• Do NOT use lighter fluid on coals that have already been lit.  A serious flare up or even an explosion could occur.

Gas and Propane Grills:
• Before starting up the grill be sure to check the grill for leaks.  Make sure the lines are not crimped and if you use a propane tank that it is in good shape; free of dent, corrosion, bulges or anything else that may signal that it is compromised.
• Use caution when lighting your grill and never keep an open flame around the grill which might find its way to even a small gas leak.
• Never remove the valve on a propane tank.  Always recycle or exchange your tank and be sure to store it away from the grill and in an upright position.

Grilling is a summertime pastime, just remember that a little safety and common sense will go along way to helping you enjoy the summer tradition.

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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