Real Estate Information Archive


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Selecting a Lawn Care Company


You have seen them on television- lawns that are immaculate.  You scan over their green lushness to find their blooming flowers and perfectly pruned hedges and shrubs.  But, what happens then if you don’t have a green thumb, let alone time to fuss with the crab grass and dandelions?  You hire a lawn care maintenance crew! So what do you look for in a lawn care crew? 


How much does this cost?

Lots of companies provide a table or scale for lawn care.  If you don’t already have the tools to maintain a lawn, the start up can be quite expensive.  Call around and get a few quotes and find out what a general fee is like and what they handle.  A good place to start is the Professional Landcare Network.  This is an organization for lawn care, landscapers and other garden professionals.  Get a ballpark figure from them and go from there.  TruGreen offers a free lawn analysis which can give you an idea of what your lawn needs and how much this costs.  This can help you determine what services fit your budget and needs.  Also, don’t be afraid to ask your neighbors who they use, if you like they way their yard looks. 

What do you want to do?

Some people love to plant their flowers and mulch the beds, but hate the edging and weeding and grass cutting.  Other people would prefer to just forget about it and put the whole lot on someone else’s to do list.  If gardening is therapy for you then don’t be afraid to say all I want is someone to handle the yard.  Be clear about what you are expecting and make sure you understand what they have to offer. 


Be sure to understand what they use on the lawn and what they provide.   Some companies package the whole care, some companies itemize.  While there is a mark-up on the products used by the lawn care professional, that is an industry standard.  After all, they had to shop, buy and store the product before it made it to your lawn.  Be sure to ask what products they will be using, particularly if you are trying to stay “green” while your lawn does the same. 

Other Services

Many lawn companies offer year around services which also include leaf removal and snow removal.  While some residents may not be in need of seasonal services, it doesn’t hurt to find out what services are offered. 

Your lawn is a reflection of your home.  A well maintained yard is like a well maintained roof, it can affect the value of your home and your neighbors homes as well!  Today, everyone has a busy schedule and there may not be enough time to do yard work, so do your research to find a company you feel comfortable with.

Home Inspections


Does the thought of termites, black mold or buying the home from the money pit fill you with terror?  There are ways to avoid the hidden traumas that can come with purchasing a home.  While most states require a home disclosure, if the house was a foreclosure OR there are issues that the home owner was not aware of, this does not offer any protection or warning of possible pitfalls your new home may have. 

With foreclosures, the bank is not going to be aware of any of the possible problems that a person who lived there might have been aware of.  Nor is it likely that you would be able to contact the previous owner. If the home-owner was not living in the home for more than 90 days or if the house was being leased out/rented out.  The home owner may not be aware of any difficulties that may have arisen in the home.   In these cases and for your own peace of mind, it is always advisable to have a home inspection.

So how do you go about selecting a home inspector?    One good way to start is one of the two nationally recognized professional associations for home inspectors; the American Society of Home Inspectors or The National Association of Home Inspectors.   In order to be listed with either of these organizations one has to go through a certification process. Both of these have a search engine to help you find “state certified home inspectors.”  Once you have a few names it doesn’t hurt to check with the Better Business Bureau.  Make a list of inspectors that have been recommended.  Avoiding anyone who has a negative report can help you avoid any potential problems with your inspection. 

A few things questions to ask when talking to your potential home inspector:

• What is the inspector's experience? How many years have they been in the business and how many inspections do they do a year?
• Exclusively inspections? Beware of contractors who do house inspections "on the side"--they may be looking for work and this isn’t necessarily what you want.

• What type of report? Will it be written or oral or both? Will the report contain suggestions for remedying deficiencies?   Preference should always be to get it in writing.

• How long will it take? Depending on the size of the house an inspection should take between 2 and 4 hours.

• What will be included in the inspection?

• What certifications do they have? Are they ASHI or NAHI certified?

• Does the inspector have Errors and Omissions Insurance? (This helps protect you if there were to be a problem with the inspection not finding a problem that becomes a big problem and was obviously there already.

While home inspections vary by market you can count on it costing over $100 and possibly up to $500.  If you are dealing with a very large house with lots of “extras” you might be dealing with additional fees.  Also, understand that most real estate agents cannot (because of conflict of interest) recommend an inspector.  It may seem like an unnecessary expense, it can protect you potential problems which may well be worth it in the long run.

Real Estate Prorations


At the closing, certain costs are often prorated between the buyer and the seller, typically property taxes. The reason for this is because taxes are typically paid toward the end of the year for which they are assessed. Often the closing agent must use the taxes from the previous year to compute the prorations for the sale. 

Taxes are not the only costs that can be prorated, below are some other prorations that a buyer may be charged.

Homeowner Association Dues-Some homeowner associations collect monthly dues upfront while others bill quarterly or annually. Thus, if a seller has not yet paid the dues, the dues will be paid from the seller's proceeds. 

Insurance Prorations-Insurance premiums are typically paid in advance. If the buyer is assuming the seller's existing loan or buying on a land contract, a buyer might ask the seller to transfer the existing insurance policy.

Utility Prorations-While utilities are not typically prorated at closing, in certain instances if a seller doesn't pay the county or city utilities (water, sewer, garbage), then the utilities roll over to the tax assessments. This can happen many times in short sales and foreclosures because, if the seller isn't making the mortgage payments, the seller is probably not paying the utility bills, either.

It is always a good idea to do your due diligence and before signing a purchase contract, be sure to read it to find out how prorations are handled, because you might want to propose a change in the verbiage about prorations.


Pool Safety


Summer is in full swing and the sunny days and hot weather make the thought of a dip in the pool is a very tempting prospect.  For children, it is even more tempting.  It comes as no surprise that the National Safety Council reports that the number two cause of injury-related death among children is drowning. About 1000 children drown each year and another 4000 are hospitalized for near-drowning. Many of these tragic events could be prevented by the installation of a pool fence or barrier.

Most county and townships have specific requirements for a perimeter fence around a yard containing a pool.  Those requirements have to be met to the letter.  However, if your yard is like most, it does double duty in the summer, housing a pool and also a play area.  While nothing can replace a parents vigilant supervision, there are a number of products on the market that can make things a little safer and offer a little more peace of mind.

Pool Fences:

Pools should be completely surrounded by fencing material at least 4 feet tall. Chain link fence works,  A slatted fence should have no gaps wider than 4 inches, so kids can't squeeze through. Gates should be self-closing and self-latching. The latch should be out of a child's reach.  There are several fencing options available specifically for keeping children out of the pool and harms way.  You can view some of these options that are actually endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Pool Barriers

One pool cover called Katchakid has actually gotten the ALA (American Lifeguard Association’s endorsement.  A Katchakid is a custom net system which covers the pool in a net which is too small for a child to stick a head through, but still allows you to chlorinate the pool as needed without the other issues a full pool cover would cause.  The net is made of a rough UV resistant product that is uncomfortable for little children to walk or crawl on.  Thusly, a child is prevented from crawling on or getting into the pool.

Eventhough these pool safety products are useful, keep in mind that there is nothing on the market is more vital to your family’s safety than your vigilance.  Supervision is key around the pool and while children are playing outside. 

Independence Day In Chapel Hill


For many people the 4th of July is the highlight of the summer. Backyard barbecues, parades, and of course fireworks! Chapel Hill has much to offer in fun for everyone. Take a look at what different events your family can enjoy together on this  holiday!


 Old Fashioned July 4th  at the Horace Williams House

Enjoy their famous celebration of America's birthday. Free ice cream, children's games, picnicking, and demonstrations of by historic fire equipment by members of the Chapel Hill Fire Department. Enjoy a free concert by the Village Band. At the Horace Williams House Grounds from  1 - 3 p.m.

Town of Chapel Hill Celebration

The town’s fireworks show will be held at UNC's Kenan Memorial Stadium.  Lots of fun, live music and a spectacular fireworks display at the end of the evening.

Family Fourth Of July Celebration

Join the parade with marchers in appropriate holiday costume starts 11am at Weaver Street Market lawn and ends at Town Commons, plus family activities, music, face painting, balloon sculptures, games, food and demonstration by the fire department. 9:30-1:00pm cost is free!

Enjoy all the different events the Chapel Hill area has to offer!  Have a a wonderful and safe holiday.

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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