Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 23

Adding Curb Appeal - First Impressions are Lasting Impressions

by AH for Masha Halpern

First Impressions are Lasting Impressions

Whether it’s driving by a home with a for sale sign in the yard or seeing it for the first time online, today’s buyers first impression of your home will be of the outside.

Even with the old adage, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”,  making sure you home has lots of curb appeal can help get buyers in the door.


For great visual tips on what can help add instant curb appeal, check out this slideshow from DIY Network.

Of course there’s nothing like having an expert guide you on the particulars of your own home. Masha excels in telling the story of your home and has a high ability to stage your home both inside and out to make it stand out amidst hundreds on the market.

In addition to staging, Masha will be able to educate you about recent relevant sales affecting your home, show and help you understand local market trends, review your potential competition, and get you familiar with timing the market.

Masha Halpern can be contacted for a private consultation by calling 919-951-1780 or by visiting

Can A Small St. Joseph Statue Help Sell Your Home?

by Masha Halpern

Statue of St. Joseph infront of a for sale house

For many years, regardless of religion, St. Joseph has become the patron saint of real estate. After reading a Zillow Blog about this statue and after burying a St. Joseph statue in front of my home, I thought I would share the contents of the blog and the St. Joseph tradition with you.

We all know that some listings take longer than others to sell. Sometimes we stage the home, we take new and brighter photos for marketing, we remove clutter, and sometimes we reduce the price. And when all else fails...we leave the rest to a St. Joseph Statue!

The tradition has been going on for at least several hundred years. One tale suggested that nuns during the Middle Ages buried a St. Joseph medal and asked the saint to help them find land for a convent. Some believe German carpenters started the tradition centuries later by burying St. Joseph statues in the foundations of the homes they built.

All I know is my house is under contract and St. Joseph has been situated peacefully in my yard since the day it was listed.

If you are looking to sell your home, give us a call. We have a St. Joseph Statue ready and waiting!






Real Estate Tips To Sell Your Home

by Masha Halpern

Here are some tips for sellers trying to sell their home:

1) The biggest change in how homes are sold now is the internet. Buyers look at homes online before they visit a home. Good photos capture a buyers interest. Previewing a home on the internet is actually considered a first showing. Therefore, it's really important to have good online pictures for buyers to view.

2) According to Zillow, homes with a manicured lawn and a well maintained fence tend to attract homebuyers.

3) Some sellers want to list their house at a price based on what they paid for it. But if a homeowner wants to sell their home, it should be based on current market conditions, location of the home, neighborhood, condition of the home, and comparables. If possible, "comps" should be homes that have sold within the last 60 days. If there is a lot of competition, or the area you live in doesn't have a lot of turnover, or if your home needs a lot of improvements, you may need to price below your competition.

4) According to Trulia, selling your home as a "for sale by owner" is generally a bad idea. Only an agent can ensure your home has the maximum exposure to the widest range of potential buyers as quickly as possible." According to the National Association of Realtors 2011 Profile of home buyers and sellers, "the typical FSBO homes sold for $150,000 in 2011 compared to $215,000 among agent-assisted home sales."

5) If your home is not selling, research why. A spokesperson from S&P advises, "find out what the major flaws were that pushed buyers away." If you can make a specific change to your home, that can mean the difference between a sale and a home that sits on the market for months. If you cannot make a change (too close to a main road, too noisy), consider reducing your selling price.

6) Last but not least, find the best broker. Ask for recommendations from friends, find out how long they have worked in the area (Masha Halpern-20 years!) and what their track record is for selling homes.

According to, typically a well-maintained home that is priced right will sell. Make sure you make obvious repairs, (i.e. water stains, leaks, doors that creak and windows that do not shut). In a slow real estate market, buyers have less money for renovations, they want homes that are move-in ready. New carpets, new floors and a fresh coat of paint may be the difference between selling your home or not.





Tips for Selling in a Slow Market

by Masha Halpern

Chapel Hill home sellers are finding that selling their home is more and more challenging everyday as they are in steep competition with new home foreclosures. So how do you get your home off the market and into contract? Here are five tips to getting your home sold quickly and the price you’re looking for:

  1. Pick the agent who is right for your market.  Your first plan of action should be to locate an agent with proven results with sales. Keep in mind you should also work with someone that you feel comfortable and confident has a good track record with sales in your market range and neighborhood. Good sales stats in your price bracket demonstrate that the realtor knows what buyers are looking for and how to move property similar to yours. A great agent can help you move your home, even in a tough market.
  2. Know your market. Understanding the ‘comps’ in your area will help you reach a realistic asking price and get a better handle on the competition. Ask your realtor to provide this information and also take opportunities to visit open houses for homes that are comparable to yours. Do your homework and get familar on info on staging, pricing and what buyers are looking for..
  3. Keep up with repairs and maintenance. Don’t hesitate to make necessary repairs and maintenance to your home when you are ready to sell. You don’t have to undergo major remodeling or expense. Simple updates like fixing broken steps, touch up painting and keeping your lawn-mowed and flower beds cleaned out will really go a long way in making your home look move-in ready.
  4. Be flexible. From having your home ready to show at a moment’s notice to your willingness to negotiate, the key to selling your home in a slow market is flexibility and responsiveness. Going the extra mile for prospective buyers can really make a difference in getting more people through the door ready to make an offer.
  5. Add value. Remember that you are competing with short sales and foreclosures, so any extra value you can add to your home can make it more attractive. Whether it’s an appliance, patio furniture or a simple cost concession, small items can add up to big pluses when prospects are evaluating the total value of your home.

In a slow North Carolina market, you need to get your home noticed quickly and be willing to negotiate so that prospective buyers see a great value in your property. Don’t stop looking for ways to make your home stand apart from the competition!



KH & Co.



Mistakes Home Sellers Make

by Masha Halpern

1. Asking Too Much-if you price your home too high, you risk turning away potential buyers (especially in a slow market).  Your home is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it.  When real estate times were better, it was easier to get comparable prices going back 6 months.  Because market prices have gone down, now you must compare prices for similar properties currently on the market.

2. Questioning the First Offer-Sometimes the first offer might be the best offer.  You can’t assume you will get a better offer the longer you hold out.  It’s actually the opposite-the longer your home sits on the market, the greater chance a seller will have to reduce his/her price.

3. Failing to Respond to All Offers-If you get an offer that is too low, do not reject it.  See if you can negotiate.  It’s a buyer’s market right now so they have the upper hand.  If you really need to sell your house, it will cost you more money in the long run if it sits on the market for a long time.

4. Paying for a Home Stager-You want your property to stand out but I don’t think it’s necessary to pay someone to stage your home.  Not everyone can picture how a home will look after they have added their own touch to it, so if possible, keep the walls clean and bright, get rid of the the clutter and knick-knacks and make all necessary repairs, even the smallest of problems, before buyers enter your home. A clean, neat, bright home gives off a much better vibe than a dark messy home.

5. Picking the Wrong Buyer-After the recent national mortgage disaster,  it’s especially important to choose the right buyer.  Choose someone with a prequalification letter issued no more than 4 to 6 weeks ago.  Also watch out for a buyer who needs a contingency (stating the deal won’t close until they sell their own home).  The best buyers are first time home buyers who qualify for a mortgage in advance or someone who has already sold their existing home.

I hope these seller tips have helped you. If you are looking for an experienced, successful broker to sell your home, please give us a call!


How Do You Differentiate Your Home From Other Listings?

by Masha Halpern

The real estate market is picking up but how do you differentiate your home from all the other listings out there?

Kitchen View 2 - showcases beautiful hand-rubbed cherry cabinetry.

I have had many of my seller clients prepare "Top Ten Reasons Why We Love Our Home" Lists. It can also help if a seller writes a "Seller Love Letter". Both express the love the seller's family has had for the home and explain the facts and events behind their feelings.

Buyers like to hear about sweet, fond family memories about a property, which is better than a home filled with tragic stories or sadness regarding a short sale or foreclosure.

Other good ideas to include in these lists/letters are:

1)Favorite neighborhood restaurants, dry cleaners, house cleaners, landscapers, carpet cleaners.  

2)Local dog parks, playgrounds, running trails, yoga studios, health clubs, libraries, bookstores, museums and other recreational activities.

3)History of upgrades, a landscape plan.

4)Neighborhood activities, listservs.

In such a competitive market, it's always a good selling point to share happy memories and logistical information. Buyers sometimes get weary of dealing with bank sellers or stressful short-sale situations.

If you would like Masha Halpern & The Smart Move Team to help you sell your home and provide you with more seller tips, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We'll get the job done!


How to Sell Your Home When You Have Pets

by Masha Halpern

While you may love your fluffy, 4 legged members of your family, that doesn't mean that prospective buyers will too. Here are some tips for showing and selling your home when you have pets in residence.

  1. Remove your pets from the home during showings – It’s unlikely that you will relocate your pets during the entire season your home is on the market, so at a minimum, make sure that they are not present during open houses or scheduled showings. Take them with you or drop them off at a friend’s house.
  2. Completely remove litter boxes and dog potty pads - These items are unsightly and also have an odor, even if you are used to it. Try to avoid heavy air fresheners – they really serve to compound the problem. Make sure all pet areas are very clean and fresh, not fragrant.
  3. Treat pet stains on carpets and furniture – If home remedies don’t work, have the floors and furniture professionally cleaned.
  4. Replace carpets or furniture that can’t be cleaned – It may seem extreme, but if you are serious about selling your home, especially in a buyer’s market, you have to put your best foot forward. If you clean or replace items and they get damaged again, think about relocating your pets until you get the home sold.
  5. Seal pet doors and pick up pet toys and food dishes – Don’t leave obvious signs of your pet’s habitation in plain view. Chances are that some clues will remain that you have animals, but try not to be too obvious with toys, beds and dishes scattered about.
  6. Crate pets as a last resort – You may have no alternatives but to keep your pets in the home during showings – as a last resort, at least crate your animals and leave a note that they should not be disturbed.

Be understanding – not everyone loves to have animals in their home, and some people are allergic. Respect prospective buyers’ sensitivities by creating a neutral space where your pets and their food and accessories are not in the way of your buyers and agents.

Share any tips you may have for selling your Chapel Hill home with pets!




Home Appraisal is a Must in Chapel Hill!

by Masha Halpern

Are you looking to buy or sell a Chapel Hill home? It will be necessary to have the property appraised. The value of the home is a major part in both the buying and selling process. The appraisal has a variety of purposes in a transaction for both the buyer and the seller.  By having an appraisal, it will protect all involved in the sale: the seller, the buyer, the lender and the insurance company.

Most lenders require an appraisal before any financing can be finalized.  So even if the buyer wants to waive the appraisal contingency due to finding a home they want where they have competition, they will still need the appraisal.

It is important to understand that waiving the appraisal can be a dangerous way to purchase a home.  Buyers can lose some of their earnest money if the appraisal does not come in high enough for them to secure financing. Sellers can demand that some of the earnest money be used to compensate them for money lost due to financial losses as well as having to put the property back on the market because the buyer wrote a contract they can’t fulfill.

If you are buying a North Carolina home, it is very important to think it through. You wouldn’t purchase a car without knowing the true value of the vehicle. Purchasing a home should be held to even higher standards, and if you don’t follow these standard practices, it could cost you thousands of dollars.

Contact me today if you are interested in buying a Chapel Hill, NC home!





Five Renovations Mistakes You Don't Want to Make!

by Masha Halpern

Because homeowners know that updated homes are more eye-catching to potential buyers down the road, many times they are overzealous and get themselves into trouble. Dreams of remodeled and beautiful kitchens, bathrooms and bedrooms turn into nightmares! Below is more information on how it happens, why people do it and, best of all, how to avoid making these mistakes in your home.

1. Gutting Everything
Make sure you have a well-set plan before you start your renovations, because you don't want to go in there and just clear everything out, when you might be able to work around some areas. Often people just start, and they think they're going to pull a piece of wallpaper off, and by the time the process is over, they've completely gotten themselves into a deep, dark hole that's very difficult ( and expensive) to get out of.

2. Using Cheap Materials
One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to home renovation is that they try to be cheap when they buy materials. The bottom line is, you're going to get what you pay for. If you're going to do it, do it. If you can't afford to do it, wait.

3. Excessive Use of Duct Tape
People use duct tape because it's cheap and it's quick and it's easy, but it's definitely a temporary solution. Don't leave it up for more than a couple hours ... ever.

4. Inaccurate Measurements
Not paying close attention to the prep work for a home renovation project can spell disaster. Simple things such as cleaning the subfloor of all dust and debris before adding new flooring can make for a much smoother application.

5. Using the Wrong Tools
There is really three problems with using the wrong tool: You can wreck the tool, you can wreck the project you're working on, and you can wreck yourself.

If you have tips you would like to share, or if you need advice on the best type of remodeling project for your home, contact us!





Eight Simple (And Inexpensive!) Ways to Add Curb Appeal

by Masha Halpern

There is lots of talk about curb appeal when it comes to selling your home. Some of the tips can be downright overwhelming! Want to improve the view from the other side of the curb without breaking the bank or making remodeling your full time job?

Here are eight easy tips to help you with your curb appeal!

1. Look at the big picture. Some things should go without saying. But the truth is that after you've lived with fading trim or a cracked driveway for a year or two, you probably don't even see it anymore. Remember that people are not going to look at your home the same way that you do, Ask your real estate agent or a trusted friend to look at the front of your home with a new set of eyes. Would they be interested in the home if they didn't know you? If not, what are the turn-offs?

And always do the obvious: keep the lawn mowed and the gutters clear. Trim the bushes, get rid of any dead branches and fix anything that's hanging or broken. And keep outdoor lights on in the evening and in good working order, the better to show off your house 24-7.

2. Got a brass doorknob? Make it shine. If you have wrought iron, clean it or paint it. Wash the windows so that they gleam.  Make your home look cared for!

3. Mesh your home to fit into the community. For example, if you live in a neighborhood with alot of young children, it's OK to have a bike in the yard. Most buyers interested in that type of a neighborhood most likely have children as well. Keep your audience in mind as you show your house.

4. Use flowers. If you have room, go for the traditional two large planters -- one on either side of the door or walkway. Fill them to overflowing with flowers if it's spring or summer or evergreens in the cooler months, she says.

This will create a focal point, forcing home buyers to focus on one area rather than the whole home at once. Consider hanging a colorful flag out front to draw in the buyers' eye. Or put a seasonal wreath on the door. You really want your home to say, "Come on it!"

5. Apply pressure! If the exterior needs a fresh look, consider getting it pressure washed. (This is a great way to clean trim or walkways and give them a clean, white look.)

6. Make the yard look manicured. Put some fresh mulch or bedding material around the plants in the yard and use a hoe to make the edges of the bedding sharp.

7. Paint. Want to make the house look great without painting the whole thing? Just paint the trim and the front door. And since the porch frames the front door and is the first part of the house buyers will actually visit, make sure it looks freshly painted. But if it needs it, then paint the whole house. The outlay will be well worth the money if you get a clean looking home that moves fast.

8. Invest in landscaping. If you have just a little money to spend, consider visiting a nursery where they can recommend the most bang for your buck. Or, if you don't have a lot of time or a green thumb, think about creating some informal garden areas. 

Your realtor has been through this many times and is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to curb appeal and these easy and inexpensive tips should be able to get you started!




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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