Real Estate Information Archive


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Tips for Pre-qualifying in Today’s Market

by Masha Halpern

When starting the hunt for your dream home you first must know how much home you can truly afford.  The first step in buying your home is to have a budget and figure out how much you can actually afford. Your real estate agent or mortgage lender can assist you with this in a couple different ways: 

  •  Pre-qualifying process This process will give you a general "estimate" of what you will be able to afford.
  • Pre-approval process This process will allow your lender to review your finances in more detail in order to determine the amount of money they agree to loan you for your home purchase.

Your lender will review your finances and focus on a few main areas such as:

  • Gross monthly income
  • Credit history
  • Amount of outstanding debts
  • Source and amount of money available for down payment and closing costs
  • Interest rates, etc.

All these things put together will help your lender determine two important qualifying ratios.

1. Debt-to-Income Ratio Generally the amount of debt you pay each month should not exceed 36 percent of your gross monthly income

2. Housing Expense Ratio Most lenders will not approve your loan if the mortgage payment exceeds 28 to 33 percent of your gross monthly income

Determining how much you can afford to spend when purchasing a new home is your first step. For more information please feel free to contact me!



Finding the Right Contractor

by Masha Halpern

If you are looking for a contractor so that you can do some updates on your home or if you have a remodel project planned to help you sell your Chapel Hill home, locating the right contractor is a big job.  Locating the “right” contractor entails a lot more than just finding the cheapest price. Here are a few things to look for when researching a contractor for your home improvement project:

  • Make sure your contractor is properly licensed. Keep in mind that even though a contractor has a license it doesn't automatically mean they will do a great job. It does however provide some financial protection for you.the customer. 
  • Make sure your contractor is properly insured. In addition to being licenced it is vital that your contracor have proper insurance. Always ask your contractor for a copy of their proof of liability insurance and bonding or the name and number of his/her insurance agent to call and verify proof of coverage.
  • Ask for references and check them! Talk to other clients that this contractor has done work for in the past. Ask them if they were happy with the quality of work, was the work completed on time? Also be sure to inquire as to if the work was completed by the agreed-upon schedule? 
  • Get two or three different written bids. As with any large project or purchase it is a good idea to do your research and shop around. Different contractors can vary widely on pricing and level of detail even when bidding for the same job. 

It’s not always the wisest decision to automatically go with the lowest bid. You need to take into consideration that  the higher bid could possibly mean better materials, workmanship and reliability. You must ask yourself, do you trust this person  to work on your  Durham home? Do you feel comfortable with them around you children and your valuables? Create a checklist of all these above items so that when it is time to interview your choices, you can make a better decision.




Choosing A Pest Control Service

by Masha Halpern

Summer has finally arrived in Chapel Hill but so has the bugs! If you are a homeowner who has these uninvited guests they can be controlled. Household pests can be eliminated through a combination of preventive measures, including proper sanitation and over-the-counter pesticides. However, some pest infestations may be extensive or a particular pest may be difficult to control, requiring pest control services. While many household pests are merely a nuisance, some can cause serious damage to our homes or property and other pose dangers such as bites, stings and transmit disease-causing agents. Choosing a pest control company is a serious matter, you want someone who is honest, dependable, state-certified, and who has the proper training and expertise to use the pesticides safely in your home. Below are some tips to help you in your search to find a professional in your area.

• Select a company based on their reputation, time in the community and willingness to answer your questions. They should give you written material that describes the problem they propose to treat and how they propose to treat it including what chemicals will be used and in what amounts.

• Pest control companies differ in their guarantees so be sure to Inquire on the specifics. If a guarantee is given, know what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force, and what kind of continuing prevention and management are necessary.

• While the cost is an important factor, it is important to not base your decison on price alone. An advertisement in the phone book or the "deal of the week". Be cautious of unsolicited sales pitches and never select treatment just because your neighbor's property is being treated or because there is "leftover spray from another job." Get references and check them. 

• Make sure you receive a written estimate detailing how much will they charge to do an inspection to determine the extent of your problem, outline the services they would perform.

• Ask how long it will take to solve your pest problem, and how often the company will return to do more work or to track results. Ask the company what other measures they can take to manage the pest problems, or what you can do to reduce future pest problems.

Choosing a quality
pest control company is an important decision. You want the company to get rid of the pests but you also want to keep your North Carolina home safe.  Do not be pressured by a sales person or a company to sign a contract immediately or to pay in advance, take your time to make a sound decision. The key to any decision is having confidence in the company you chose.



Displaying blog entries 1-3 of 3




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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