Real Estate Information Archive


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Waiting to Purchase a New Home?

by Masha Halpern

We are all aware that the Real Estate Market is slow in some areas of North Carolina. At the same time, housing is still at its most affordable level in years. So why aren't buyers purchasing more homes?

1. One reason is how much credit is available to buyers. There are more hurdles in obtaining a mortgage than before. In addition to showing that you can afford to buy a home, even if you have a lot in savings, banks want to see income. Lenders want to see W-2 forms.

2. Some buyers think prices will fall even lower.  Home prices are low now, mortgage rates are low as well. Interest rates will slowly start to creep up. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Now is a great time to BUY!!

3. Buyers are not confident in the economy. Unemployment is high and even those who have jobs don't feel a sense of job security. The more insecure people are in making purchases, the slower the economy grows.  It's a catch 22. Another reason to BUY a home; to help jump start the economy!!

I think once consumers regain confidence and banks increase lending to those who qualify, buyer activity should pick up.  In the meantime, SELLERS be patient. Your home will sell, all you need is one buyer.



Top Ten Reasons Why Now Is the Time to Buy

by Masha Halpern

While you may be thinking that due to the poor economy its a bad time to buy a new Chapel Hill Home, its actually the opposite! For many North Carolina residents, it can actually be more cost effective to own than to rent!

Here are ten great reasons that NOW is the time to buy!

10. You'll get a better home. In different parts of the country, it's hard to find a good rental.

9. The National Association of Realtors puts the current inventory at around 4 million homes. That's enough for a years worth of sales. That means a lot of choices as well as great prices.

8. Sooner of later, the market will improve. There will be more demand than supply. The population is supposed to grow by more than 100 million people over the next 40 years. That means a lot of people will be looking for new homes in the future.

7. Your home isn't the stock market and it shouldn't be viewed as a way to get rich. Real Estate prices will go up again. Equity in your home is another way of investing in your future.

6. If offers some inflation protection, especially if you are young and raising a family.

5. It will be yours. You can have the kitchen and bathrooms you want, you can move walls or build an extension. You can even paint your home bright red. Few landlords will allow you to do that.

4. It's a buyer's market. We all like a good deal, we feel a sense of satisfaction after negotiating.

3. It's forced savings.  If you rent an apartment for $2000/month instead of buying one for $2400/month, renting seems like a good idea but will you save the $400 for the future? Most people won't and since part of that monthly payment as an owner is tax deductible, you do the math.  You are just paying yourself by building equity in your home.

2. You'll save on taxes. You can deduct mortgage interest and real estate taxes from your income taxes.

1. Mortgages are cheap. Interest rates are at historic lows. Two years ago they were around 6.3%. Now they are around 4.3% for a 30 year fixed loan. That's a big difference in your monthly payment.  When inflation goes up, interest rates will go up.

Questions and not sure who to ask? Need help finding your dream home? This market we are facing poses challenges but also opportunities.  Contact us to help you find the best home in this buyers' market for your family!



Is a Real Estate Lawyer Necessary?

by Masha Halpern

While exciting, Real Estate transactions can be quite confusing.  It is a serious process that can take an ample amount of time and money to complete. When things seem too complicated it is a good idea to consider a real estate attorney. Below is some valuable information to help you decide whether or not you need to use a lawyer for your transaction.

How can an attorney help me?

A real estate attorney can offer many different services and some may specialize in certain areas but some general services that are typically offered are:

• Reviewing and outlining the real estate transaction process

• Reviewing any listing or agency agreements

• Drafting and reviewing real estate condition reports

• Drafting and reviewing residential offers to purchase and counter offers

• Assisting buyers and sellers through the property inspection and financing contingencies

• Working with title insurance companies and reviewing title insurance commitments

• Checking the settlement statement figures with you prior to closing

• Advising you at closing

There are always questions during this long involved purchasing process, therefore having an attorney available to answer your questions, big or small, will be an added bonus.

What are the costs involved?

The actual cost for an attorney varies by state and by amount of work required. Fee structures also vary (some lawyers charge by the hour, others by flat fee, some by both depending on the task.) but the typical range is $350-$1500.  While it is important to do your research and shop around for the attorney that best fits your budget, don’t let the price factor determine your decision. You may find the worst attorney that is the most expensive or you may find an excellent attorney that offer decent services at a fair price.

Where can I find a reputable attorney?

A good place to start in locating a real estate attorney is to ask for referrals from your local bar association, your real estate agent or your mortgage broker.  Word of mouth has great value as well; ask friends, colleagues and family whom they've had a good experience working with. The Internet is a valuable tool you can use to research also,locate an attorney in your area.

Many people find that purchasing or selling a Chapel Hill home is the most complicated and largest legal transaction they will make in a lifetime. Having your real estate attorney sitting right next to you to watch after your best interests will give a lot of stress relief during this sale time.




Avoid These Top 10 Pitfalls When Buying a Home

by Masha Halpern

You’re ready to buy a home in Chapel Hill, or so you think. Many home buyers make mistakes when purchasing a home, especially a first home. But these mistakes can lead to a bad purchase or even a foreclosure. Here are the top ten pitfalls and mistakes many people make when buying a home – don’t fall into these traps!

1. The “No Money Down” Pitch.  Beware these online or cable TV ‘gurus’ who tell you how to get rich in real estate without a penny down. The only money these guys make is off of you if you buy their CD, book or attend a seminar. It takes experience AND capital to make money in real estate, whether it is one home or ten.

2. All Realtors are the Same, Right? Wrong. Holding a real estate license does not mean that the agent you are talking to is the best one in your market or for your situation. Get referrals, look at the agents sales statistics and interview potential agents carefully.

3. Depleting Your Savings. Most lenders require 20% or more down on a new mortgage. If you don’t have it, wait until you do. Completing wiping out your savings or borrowing a down payment leaves you in a precarious financial situation if something happens.

4. Ignoring Professional Advice. Unless they sound really off base, listen to your realtor and mortgage broker when they offer advice or guidance. You should also do your own homework when looking for the right neighborhood or figuring out the best mortgage package for your family. Let the professionals guide you with their expertise and experience.

5. The “Too Good To Be True” Monthly Payment. Low monthly payments can mean that you are building no equity in your home – even going in the hole on your principal balance. Make sure that you completely understand ALL the terms of your mortgage agreement – from interest rates to monthly payments, and what the consequences are.

6. Landing in the Wrong Neighborhood. Do your homework on the neighborhoods you are looking at. The city should have demographic information, school information and ranking and crime statistics. Is the neighborhood full of foreclosures? IT could affect the value of all the homes in the neighborhood. Make sure you understand the comps and the real value of your potential home site.

7. Buying Above Your Means. Tough times mean that everyone has to revaluate priorities. Be sure to carefully consider the features and prices of homes that will really suit your needs and allow you to live comfortably without spending your entire income on your monthly mortgage payment.

8. Foregoing the Home Inspection. Even if the conditions of your loan don’t require a home inspection, go ahead and spend the relatively small sum to get the home thoroughly checked out by an objective third party. You may uncover problems that the seller should be responsible for, and at the very least, you’ll go into the purchase with the right information about the condition of the home.

9. Acquiring More Debt Before Closing. With credit requirements continuing to tighten, rest assured that your lender will run additional credit reports right before closing. If you have made additional credit purchases – from a new car to furnishings for your new home, it can reflect negatively on your credit and your debt to income ratio. In some cases in can cost you your new mortgage, even if you were pre-approved.

10. Sinking Into Debt After Closing. Many people breathe a sigh of relief once the home loan has closed and then immediately begin purchasing for the home or buying items they have been putting off while waiting for the mortgage to go through. Take it easy! You’ve just added a big responsibility with that mortgage payment.

You may not realize it at the time, but many of the decisions you make when looking for a new home will affect your ability to stay in it once the loan has closed. Respect the advice of professionals, do your homework and avoid the common pitfalls of ‘too good to be true' pitfalls.




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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