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Going "Green" While Moving


Everywhere you turn today you will hear something or someone talk about going 'green'. While it may appear to be the buzz word of the time, many people serioulsy care about being environmentally conscious.  There are many things you can do today to do your part and now you can even help the environment when moving into your new home! There are many companies that now market services that will help you do just that.  These companies promote everything from bio-diesel to recycling packing materials.  

Bio-Diesel is one way you can be assured that the company that is helping you move is doing it with an eye on that carbon footprint.  Bio-Diesel is a renewable resource created by splitting vegetable oils into methyl esters (the chemical name for biodiesel) and glycerin (a valuable by product usually sold to be used in soaps and other products).    Companies like Green Moving promote the advantages to Bio-Diesel and use it exclusively in their trucks.

Aside from Biodiesel, how else can you green your move?   Instead of buying new boxes try using boxes that you can obtain from different stores-and the best part is they are free!  Another top, use green cleaning products when doing clean up and recycling items rather than discarding the things that aren’t going to move with you.

While boxes can be recycled; what about packing peanuts and the likes?  Wait!  Before you fill your boxes of precious fragile items with Styrofoam peanuts, check out your local Uhaul.  A number of moving companies now carry biodegradable packing supplies.  These foamy-looking puffs are made of cornstarch or other starches that start breaking down when they get good and wet!

There are other things you can do yourself to go green.  Rather than wrapping everything in bubble wrap, try newspaper and then recycle it when you get to your destination.  Use blankets and towels that you are going to be packing anyway, to protect fragile items.  This way they both get packed and still save a tree or two.  Not to mention less plastic in a landfill somewhere.  Good luck on your move and Go Green!

Child Safety In The Home


Keeping children safe in the home is number one priority and this month, September is National Child Safety Month. Sadly however, according to government figures 2-1/2 million children are injured or killed by hazards in the home each year.  Injury in the home is the leading cause of death in children and young adults. According to the most recent statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were approximately 2,800 children, ages one to 14 years, that died from an unintentional injury. These are sobering facts, so what can you do to try and keep your child safe?

 Childproofing is a major way to keep your small child safe.  Every room and area of your home should be evaluated for dangers.  The following is a list of items that can be used to help in your childproofing efforts:

  • Safety Latches and Locks for cabinets and drawers in kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas to help prevent poisonings and other injuries. Safety latches and locks on cabinets and drawers can help prevent children from gaining access to medicines and household cleaners, as well as knives and other sharp objects. They are easy to install and only cost about $2 a piece.
  • Anti-Scald Devices To prevent burns you can add anti-scald devices to  faucets and shower heads and set your water heater temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.. Anti-scald devices for regulating water temperature can help prevent burns but may need to be installed by a plumber. If you have your own home and hot water tank, set the temperature to 120 degrees or slightly lower.  Typical cost of an anti-scald device: $6 to $30. Unless you have to have a plumber install it
  • Safety Gates help prevent falls down stairs and to keep children away from dangerous areas by installing Safety gates keeping children away from stairs or rooms that have hazards in them. Look for safety gates that children cannot dislodge easily, but that adults can open and close without difficulty. For the top of stairs, gates that screw to the wall are more secure than "pressure gates."   A gate may run from $ 9 - $40. Gates should meet safety standards and display a certification seal from the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association  If you have an older safety gate, be sure it doesn't have "V" shapes that are large enough for a  child's head and neck to fit into.
  • Mini-blind cords can cause strangulation. Information on tassels and mini-blind ties or modification can be found by calling 1-800-506-4636. Protect Children From Window Cord Strangulation: Never place a crib or child's bed near a window, Never put a chair, sofa, bench, or bookcase near a window with a dangling cord, Get rid of loops on two-corded horizontal blinds. 
  • To help prevent electrocution of children adding outlet covers and outlet plates is a simple thing. Outlet Covers and Outlet Plates are a non expensive way to ensure their safety, be sure the outlet protectors cannot be easily removed by children.  Typical cost for a box of outlet covers is less than $2.

Even with the best safety devices, nothing replaces supervision. Children can get into danger easily and surprisingly quickly, and these are just a few of the many household hazards to children.  However, no parent can be there every moment, so these inexpensive items can help prevent injures and offer a little extra piece of mind.

Radon Gas: A Threat In Your Home?


You may have heard of Radon gas on the news or read about it's dangers. Radon Gas is a tasteless, odorless, invisible gas that occurs naturally throughout the earth's crust. It is a potential health threat that most people don’t even consider.   According to the EPA reports, “Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America and claims about 20,000 lives annually.”  With these serious statistics you might wonder where Radon comes from, how it gets into your home and how to  test for it and most importantly remove it from your home.

Where does it come from?

Radon is a naturally occurring and by NSC definition:
“Radon is formed by the natural radioactive decay of uranium in rock, soil, and water.  Naturally existing, low levels of uranium occur widely in Earth's crust. It can be found in all 50 states. Once produced, radon moves through the ground to the air above. Some remains below the surface and dissolves in water that collects and flows under the ground's surface.”

 Naturally, this is a strange thought, but when you consider that this is an airborne threat from the earth itself; but it should be taken seriously.  You might ask ‘how can this gas from the ground get into my home?’

  • Cracks in floors and walls 
  • Gaps in suspended floors 
  • Openings around sump pumps and drains 
  • Cavities in walls 
  • Joints in construction materials
  • Gaps around utility penetrations (pipes and wires) 
  • Crawl spaces that open directly into the building

The good news is that there are tests available which can determine if there is a dangerous level of Radon Gas in your home.  It is estimated that one in 15 homes have such a threat.  The levels can be tested by a kit purchased online or at most hardware stores.  Companies like Safety Siren market a Radon detector not unlike a carbon monoxide detector.  Of course, there are state authorized companies and agencies which can test for Radon.  You can locate your state contact for more information. 

While the threat is real, the good news it it can be corrected if the gas is found in your home If your house has failed a radon air and/or water test, you have options available to you to reduce radon levels to an acceptable level. There are companies that specialize in the reduction of Radon.  For Information on Radon Removal and various techniques, the EPA has published an on-line booklet called  "How To Reduce Radon Levels in Your Home"



Locking In That All Important Mortgage Rate


When buying a home your Mortgage Rate is a very important matter.  The long and short of it is that the Mortgage Rate is the interest that you will pay on your loan.  The lower your rate the less you have to pay back.  So locking in your rate becomes even more critical in a market that is fluctuating up to a full point over the first half of 2008.

Locking in your rate before you are ready to close puts you on a time table.  However, it lets you know upfront the points and terms that you will be buying under.  Some rates can be locked for 15 days and some for up to three months.  You still need to buy before that rates terms expire, otherwise you will be back to square one negotiating a rate.

It is very important to get the rate in writing.  While in some cases you can accept a verbal agreement, but never assume that it will stand in court.  So, assume the worst and get the bank to send the terms in writing.   The contract has to lock the interest rate, the points, terms and other costs.  It must include the names the mortgage will be in, the cost of the lock, the terms as well as the effective date and its expiration date and time.  If you have any post-lock options make sure they are included in the contract.

A few things you need to do before locking things in:
• Shop around. Your rates and terms may vary wildly from lender to lender and rate locks can be a serious cost.  Don’t be afraid to shop around before you lock that rate.
• Allow enough time. Make sure you allow for loan processing time in your lock period and be sure to be ready to put in that loan application before the terms will expire.  This includes checking credit reports and even a pre-approval can help.

Keep in mind that even a half of a percent fluctuation can cost you thousands of dollars.  If you lock in your rate you can be better prepared for what the bottom line of your mortgage will be.  With an uncertain market, this can only help. 

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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