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Check Your Credit Before You Shop for a New Home

by Masha Halpern

Buying a home is a big step. A home mortgage is a long-term commitment, unlike any other item you’ll buy. To prepare for applying for a mortgage, take these steps to make sure your credit is in good shape.

The first thing to do is check your credit reports. You can do this once a year for free. Pull your records from all three credit bureaus. Read over them, and make sure all of the information is correct. For a small fee, you can also get your overall credit score.

If you find any errors on your credit report, work on getting them cleaned up before applying for a mortgage. It will make the process easier, and it could raise your score, which could get you a better rate. That can translate into saving thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan.

Common credit report errors include payments showing as late that really weren’t, and bills showing outstanding that have been paid off. Follow the credit bureau’s instructions to fix any errors you find.

Late payments can drop your credit score, but you can improve it by making all future payments on time. Experts also say that you can bump your score up by a few points by paying down your credit card balances. However, you’ll need to keep your balances down, so don’t charge new purchases to those credit cards.

Applying for new credit will also temporarily lower your credit score, so don’t buy any big ticket items, like a car or furniture, in the months before applying for a mortgage loan. Ideally you should not take on any new debt within a year of buying a home.

Finally, don’t close old accounts thinking it will raise your score. In general, you want to show a long, reliable credit history, so make sure you keep your oldest credit card open. Use your credit wisely, but don’t abuse it.

Making sure your credit is as good as it can be can save you money in the long run on a mortgage, as well as let you know how much house you can afford. This will let you shop for a home with confidence.

If you have any questions about checking your credit score or getting a mortgage pre-approval, contact me to set up an appointment for a consultation. I’d be happy to offer you suggestions on how to improve your score and help you find the home of your dreams.

Masha Halpern, Broker, CLHMS, GRI
Keller Williams Realty
Masha@MashaHalpern.com
919-414-0337  

Get your latest Home Value
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Masha Halpern and The Smart Move Team is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Masha is a certified member of The Luxury Home Marketing Institute, participates in its annual Leaders in Luxury Conference, and works with The Institute’s thousands of members worldwide to share information about current listings.

Masha is also a certified member of Keller Williams Luxury International and is also a member of Cyber Stars International – Top Realtors Using Technology – a group dedicated to taking the best and latest technological advances and applying them to real estate advertising and marketing for her clients in all price points. Masha Halpern can be contacted for a private consultation by calling 919-414-0337 or by visiting www.TheSmartMoveTeam.com.

Photo courtesy Marius Mauresan, Stock.XCHNG.

Home Sales Increase 41 % in Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh!

by Masha Halpern

Shrinking inventory is creating frustration for buyers in the local marketplace. The News and Observer reported a surge in home sales - many fast selling homes with multiple offers! Making it even more competitive... is the low inventory of available homes. Consider this:

At the end of  there were 7,667 homes for sale ( new and resale ). That's down 23 % from last year and 42 % from two years ago. What does all this mean for you and me-  Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh areas have a three month supply of housing for buyers to choose from.

Adding to the low inventory is the fact that area home prices have remained relatively flat- or stable -  a more positive label for it- so area home owners have been hesitant to offer their homes for sale. This makes it a bit tougher to find a home if you are a buyer today.

The good new is that as buyers compete for homes currently on the market; prices will increase- and ultimately more sellers will put their home up for sale!

Local appraisers have stated that  low inventory will be the 'name of the game for much of the summer and possibly the fall of this year. Local appraiser Stacey Anfindsen shared in the N&O article, written by David Bracken, that he expects inventory to 'flat-line' much of the year through the third quarter of 2013.

Good news for sellers of current Chapel Hill homes for sale? Yes, Days on the market has drastically reduced- down 31 days from April of last year!

Masha Halpern, Broker, CLHMS, GRI
Keller Williams Realty
Masha@MashaHalpern.com

919-414-0337

Get your latest Home Value
Receive Your Personalized Listing Alerts

Masha Halpern and The Smart Move Team is your ultimate real estate resource for Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate markets.

Masha is a certified member of The Luxury Home Marketing Institute, participates in its annual Leaders in Luxury Conference, and works with The Institute’s thousands of members worldwide to share information about current listings.

Masha is also a certified member of Keller Williams Luxury International and is also a member of Cyber Stars International – Top Realtors Using Technology – a group dedicated to taking the best and latest technological advances and applying them to real estate advertising and marketing for her clients in all price points. Masha Halpern can be contacted for a private consultation by calling 919-414-0337 or by visiting www.TheSmartMoveTeam.com.

 

 

 

Five Questions to Ask Yourself

by Masha Halpern

So you've decided you need a new home. Perhaps you need more space for your growing family. Or you're downsizing now that the kids have grown. Or something closer to work to ease your commute. Maybe work is taking you somewhere else in the country. There are many reasons why people need to buy a new house. With that in mind, there are several things you need to have in place when you're ready to get down to the actual business of finding and buying that new house.

What Do You Want in a Home?
If you're going to live there, you need to be clear about what you want out of a new home. An easy way to organize your thoughts is to make a list. Make three columns: Must Have, Would Like and No Way. Get feedback for the list from everyone who'll share the house. Be reasonable, of course: You can probably live without a fifty-seat theater and a bowling alley in your next house. You may not be able to get everything you want, but you'll want to be able to live with what you can get. And, you can hand me the list and I'll be able to show you exactly what you're looking for. Maybe even with a bowling alley.

Where Do You Want to Live?
If you already know the neighborhood or street you want to find a home, you're way ahead of the game. But, if you're not sure, or if you're new to the area, this is something I can really help you with. A choice of neighborhoods should take into account your comfort and safety, the quality of nearby schools, availability of retail and restaurants, and distance to your job. Because I'm familiar with the area, I can help you select a neighborhood that will be the best of all of those details.

Do You Know Your Credit Score?
Get a copy of your credit reports, preferably one of from each of the three major credit bureaus. You need to know ahead of time if you've got any problems. Fix the problems that show up on the report. Banks will loan money to people who don't have perfect credit, but you're probably going to have to put more money down and prove you can afford your mortgage and insurance.

How Much You Can Afford?
And that's the next step. Exactly how much money do you have for a down payment. Ten percent of the purchase price is often quoted, but except in rare cases, a bigger down payment is going to be best. It's going to show the lender you're serious about the purchase, and in the long run, it's going to cost you less money to own the house. Take a hard look at your monthly budget and be honest about what you can really afford as a monthly mortgage payment. You also need to plan for fees and taxes, both annual and at closing. And once you sign the paperwork, the house is yours, along with any and all maintenance and repair costs. You really must have some sort of emergency fund set aside just in case.

Is it too Good to Be True?
It's hard not to think about the impact the last several years have had on the housing market and the ability to get a homeowner loan. Owning a home is a fantastic goal for anyone, but don't forget that if it sounds to good to be true, it isn't true. Far too many people have lost their homes because they made deals that sounded great in the moment, but wound up being too much of an investment for them.

Working closely with a real estate professional can help you avoid so many of the pitfalls and nightmares of home buying. My job is to make the experience as pleasant and problem free as possible. So whether you're ready to buy now, or just considering it for the future, lets work together to get you the best deal on your next home.

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.

It's Fall And Triangle Real Estate Statistics Are Still Improving

by Masha Halpern

It's Fall, kids are back in school and the Triangle real estate statistics are still improving.  
 

According to TMLS, (compared to the same time one year ago), this is what we are seeing:

 

1. Sales in the Triangle region were up 26.4% percent to 2310.

2. New listings in the Triangle region increased 7.5% to 3240.

3. Pending Sales were up 26.4% to 2310.

4. Inventory levels shrank 25.3% to 13,052 units.

5. Prices moved higher. The Median Sales Price increased 3.8% to $192,100.

6. Days on Market was down 8.8% to 115 days.

 

Click here for the latest statistics on video.

 

Election Day is less than 2 months away. There will be extra emphasis on jobs and unemployment as we move closer to the election. Because there is a relationship between jobs and housing, it's important for those in real estate to stay tuned in to what the politicians and economists have to say. With that being said, 2012 has been a good year in the real estate market so far and there is good reason to remain optimistic from this point forward.

 

If you are looking for a home this Fall, there are plenty of great homes to choose from. Give Masha Halpern & The Smart Move Team a call and we can help find the right home for you.

 

By the way; Are you registered to vote?

 

SEG

 

 

Quick Fixes for Those Pesky Holes

by Masha Halpern

Before you put your house on the market, you have to address a variety of issues. Not the least of which is making the house look fantastic. So as you survey your home, you'll start to see little problems that have to be dealt with. For example, damage to drywall where you have hung artwork or secured tall furniture pieces. And that's what I want to talk about with you. If you've got something larger than small holes, you'll probably need some professional help. It's pretty remarkable what a contractor can do to make repairs. But, if you've just got some small holes, you can save yourself some money by doing it yourself.

It's not going to take long, but we need to get some tools. You’ll need to have spackle, a putty knife, a sanding block, primer, paint and a paint brush. I’ll wait while you go get them.

Fill – Okay, we’re going to use the spackling paste to fill the hole itself. Spackle is just a putty made of plaster and glue. Fill the hole and then use the putty knife to scrape off any spackle sticking up out of the hole.

Sand – A tiny hole won’t need much, if any, sanding. But, if you can You’re going to want to use a sanding block or even a dry wall sanding screen to make sure the result is perfectly flat. Just using sandpaper by hand won’t cut it.

Paint – Again, with a small enough hole, you don’t really need to prime, but it’s not a bad idea. Then you’re going to want to find the paint that was used to cover the wall you’re working on. Usually, when an interior is painted, the contractor will leave a can of the color they used in a storeroom or garage.

If you can’t find the right paint, you’re best bet is to repaint the entire wall: Any odd color patches are going to really stand out when the room is empty of furniture. And, if the hole is a bit bigger, you can find self-adhesive patching kits that include a metal mesh and come in a variety of sizes. You’ll still need to sand, prime and paint.

If your walls are bare, you can tackle this chore quickly. And a lot less expensively than a contractor will do it!

This blog is maintained by Michael of Kim Hughes & Company.
Photo courtesy idoverman/flickr.com

Low Foreclosure Rate in North Carolina

by Masha Halpern

Great Tips to Spring Clean Your Finances

by Masha Halpern

Now that spring is here, I read a great article in Kiplinger Finance that I wanted to share.

Take some time this spring to get your money matters in order by following these tips:

1. Toss unnecessary documents-Do this every year after you file your tax return. Click here to see what you should toss and what you should save.

2. Freshen up your insurance coverage.-If you're looking to cut costs, increase the deductibles on your car and homeowners policies. Ask your insurance agent about an umbrella policy.

3. Tidy up your credit report.-Once a year, you can request a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com. If you are planning on purchasing a home, it's important to check that your credit report is accurate and up to date. Errors on a credit report can hurt your ability to borrow money or get new credit.

4. Clean out your portfolio -Take a look at your investments. It may be time to sell some investments and purchase new ones. Evaluate your holdings. Don't forget to add to your IRA each year.

5. Plug leaks in your budget - When was the last time you tracked your expenses? Try using a budget worksheet to see how much you spend per month. It's the little charges that add up each month.

The above tips are something we should all do every year, especially if you are planning to buy a home.

_________________________________________________________________________________

Masha Halpern has been an agent in Chapel Hill since 1992. Contact Masha at Masha@MashaHalpern.com or toll free at (877)478-4669 for all your real estate needs.

 

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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

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