For many Americans, buying a home is the most significant purchase they’ll make in their lifetimes. The entire housing crisis has created a lot of turmoil and confusion, adding on to what was already a daunting task. But, take a deep breath. Things are much better than they were a couple of years ago, and as before, there are some basic things you can do to make the process of buying a home less stressful. Here are three key things to do:

Choosing Your Agent – Unless you've done this a lot, you’ll want to have an experienced agent on your side. This means using a buyer’s agent, who you pay, instead of a sub-agent who is paid by the seller and represents their interests, not yours. Because the subagent is ethically required to report what you say to them to their clients, you may regret things you do say to them. An agent representing you will be in a better position to make sure you get the best possible deal. Your actual cost for using a buyer’s agent can be offset by putting in your offer that the seller pays the agent’s commission. And by the fact that the agent is working to get you a better deal.

Choose a Good Investment – No matter how long you live in it, your new home is an investment. And you need to treat it just like you would any other financial investment. That means buying a home that is going to appreciate in value over time.  A beautiful home can be a terrible investment if you wind up paying more than the structure is worth. Don’t let your heart overrule sound financial decisions. Make sure you use a professional home inspector for a written report that includes general estimates of repair costs.

Plan Ahead – Don’t wait to learn about your mortgage options. Before you make an offer, research and understand the types of mortgages available and which lender offers the best rates. Work with your agent to determine what paperwork you’re going to need when you make an offer, and get as much of it ready ahead of time as possible.  Making an offer and buying a home is stressful, but you can make the process a lot easier if you've already handled these details. If this will be your first home purchase, make sure you take advantage of first-time home buyer programs.

For more guidance, check out the American Homeowners Foundation Top 10 Home Buyers Tips and CNNMoney’s Tips for Buying a House.  And remember that my job is to make the process of finding and buying your new home as easy as possible, so let me know how I can help you.

Masha Halpern, Broker, CLHMS, GRI
Keller Williams Realty

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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

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