The Hill Barbour Home Team Real Estate Blog

Jan. 26, 2015

How to get settled in your new home!

How to Settle into Your New Home Effectively

After the last load of your personal belongings has been carried into your new home, the work really begins as you strive to resume a normal routine in an organized home.  Before you can begin to relax, entertain, or simply conduct life as you once knew it, you have much work to complete and a plethora of materials to place in the proper location in your new home.  If you were organized before the move and labeled all of your boxes properly your job will be much easier but there’s still a checklist that you should follow before you begin to place things in your home.  The sooner you tackle the task at hand the sooner you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the new investment that you made for your family.  Let’s look at some things that you need to do as you begin to settle into your new residence.
1. Check all of the major appliances in your home.  If you moved your own appliances you should make sure that no damage was done to them during the move.  If you find something amiss be sure to report it to your insurance and the moving company as quickly as possible.
2. Inspect all of your boxes and furniture to be sure that everything arrived safe and sound.  Look for any damage so that you can file a claim within the appropriate period allowed by insurance companies.
3. Keep all of your receipts in a folder that’s located in a safe place.  You’ll want to see if you can make any claims on your tax return for the move that you just experienced.
4. Register your car or truck and any other vehicles that you have.  If you’ve moved across state lines you’ll have to also get a new driver’s license. Be sure to contact the local DMV for detailed information on the requirements for your new residence.
5. Are you receiving your mail in a timely fashion?  You left a forwarding address at your old location so you should expect to begin getting your mail efficiently. Be sure to check if mail doesn’t begin arriving soon after you move.
6. Find new healthcare professionals, new schools, and local businesses with which you can take care of your business.  You’re sure to need medical help in the future so checking with your realtor about local doctors and pharmacies as well as the local schools will help make your transition easier. 

You can ask your Hill Barbour Home Team professionals for recommendations of reputable businesses in your new locale as you begin to settle into your new home and community.
Organizational abilities and checklists are the keys to making your move stress-free, easily accomplished, and a streamlined process that works well for you and your family.


Jan. 19, 2015

How to Avoid Moving Mistakes

How to Avoid Making Moving Mistakes

You’ve made the offer, had it accepted, closed on the deal, and now you’re ready to begin the next chapter of your life in a new home.  As you prepare for the big move, you will not want to experience the same mistakes that many people make when changing locations.  Planning ahead will be the key to your success and keeping track of the progress that you’re making in preparing for the move is a must.  Let’s look at some tips for avoiding moving mistakes when the big day arrives.

Plan Your Move Carefully
You’ll be able to find a myriad of moving guides that help you to organize the move and streamline the entire process but you should note that beginning at least eight weeks ahead of time is the best plan to pursue.  As soon as you know the date that the movers will arrive on your doorstep, count backwards and find the date that you should begin to ready your personal belongings for the move.  Time is of the essence and knowing what needs to be done and doing it as quickly and as efficiently as possible will reduce the stress that you might have from not being well-prepared.

Check References of Movers You Like
Before you enter into any moving contract, be sure to get at least three quotes and compare the details of the services that you are being offered.  You will want to check their professionalism, their attention to details, and the materials and organizational steps that they use to conduct your move.  Read testimonials online of the company with which you’d like to partner to see what other clients have to say about their services.  Be sure to check the company’s background before you schedule them to give you an estimate for moving your things.

The Devil is in the Details
It’s imperative that you read the fine print of your contract before you sign it so that you can voice any questions or concerns before the agreement is finalized.  You’ll want to be assured of coverage in case of damage, how they add extra costs for additional services, and exactly what is included in their quote.  It’s much better to be prepared and educated about the moving process rather than to be surprised with damaged goods that aren’t covered under the contract that you signed. 

If you’ll review the testimonials of previous clients, pay close attention to the details of the contract and the services being offered, and review their website for further information, you’ll be confident in your selection of their company and the job that they do for you as you change locations.


Posted in selling a home
Jan. 12, 2015

Steps for Lowering Your Home’s Energy Bills

Steps for Lowering Your Home’s Energy Bills

One of the most expensive bills that you can incur during the winter months is your energy bill; as a frugal homeowner, you may be searching for some ways to trim the cost that you experience so that you can maintain control of your household budget.  With a goal of saving energy and using your money more effectively, you should try some of the tips listed below that are sure to impact the energy bill that arrives at your home each month.

1. You can save up to 10% each year by sealing windows, doors, outlets and switch plates with caulking or weather stripping whichever is appropriate.  Take a little time and check for drafts that cut into the effectiveness of your heating system.

2. Keep your heating system properly maintained by having it serviced on a regular basis.  Hire a professional to take a look at your heat pump to see that it is working up to its optimum level.

3. Use a programmable thermostat.  This allows you to reduce the heat while you are at work.  You can program the heat to come on at a specified time, before you arrive home, and assures you that your house will be warm and comfortable.  This prevents you from heating a home when no one is there.

4. Close your fireplace damper when you aren’t using it.  This keeps the heat in your home from escaping up the chimney.

5. Let the sun permeate your home.  By opening curtains on your south facing windows you’re allowing the sun to naturally heat your home.  Be sure to close drapes at night to reduce the cold air that may come in around your windows.

6. Lower the temperature of your hot water heater.  You can reduce the thermostat setting by 10% to receive a 3-5% savings on your energy bill.  Don’t forget to insulate the hot water heater and the hot water pipes.

If you will instruct your family members to work as a team, together you can reduce the cost of your home’s energy bill and begin to regain control of this part of your budget.  Advise children to close the doors immediately when they enter from the outside and be sure to keep the door to your garage area closed as well.  These improvements can impact the energy efficiency of your home and can save you a great deal of money in the long run.  If you’ll save all of your receipts for energy costs you can also use this as a selling point with a potential buyer when you want to sell your home.  With just a few simple steps your home will be warm and comfortable and your energy bill will be lower which means more money in your wallet.



Jan. 7, 2015

How to get ahead of the Winter Freeze

How to Get Ahead of the Winter Freeze

It’s never too late to ready your home for the heating season that’s now upon us.  By using the checklist below, you can have your home in great shape and all of your equipment operating at its maximum level of performance which is sure to help you save money on your heating bill and to keep your loved ones protected.  Be sure to check off each step as you make the effort to ensure the safety and security of your family by maintaining the proper maintenance on all of your home’s heating tools.

? Have your furnace inspected and serviced by a well-trained professional before the heating season begins. If you haven’t done this step by this time in the winter, it’s still not too late; call a trusted expert to come to your home to make sure that all parts are working as they were designed.

? Make sure that your chimneys and vents are cleaned and inspected for creosote build-up.  This is the leading cause of chimney fires and can easily be prevented with a service call by a professional.

? Keep the wood for your fireplace or wood stove dry and make sure that you only use seasoned wood.

? Use only a metal or heat-tempered glass for a fireplace screen; it should be in good condition and securely placed in front of the fireplace.

? Use a covered metal container in which to dispose the ashes from your fireplace or stove.  Keep the container at least ten feet from your home or any other type of structure.

? Keep children at least three feet away from your fireplace, wood stove, oil stove, or space heaters.

? Use only portable heaters that have an automatic shut-off.

? Plug your portable heaters directly into an outlet instead of an extension cord and make sure that they are at least three feet away from combustible materials.

? Test your smoke alarms regularly to make sure that they are working properly.  You should have alarms on every level of your home, inside you bedroom, and outside each sleeping area of the residence.  Explore the option of having all of your smoke alarms interconnected so that when one alerts they all will alert.

? Test your carbon monoxide alarms to ensure that they are also working as designed.  Each of these devices should be located outside the bedrooms of your home on every level of the house.

By using this handy checklist, you can keep the equipment in your home operating properly and those whom you love safe, secure, and ready to begin a New Year.

Dec. 14, 2014

Enjoy the holidays by visiting or living in Mebane NC!

What You and Your Loved Ones Can Do in Mebane for the Christmas Holidays 

Now that the Mebane Christmas Parade has marched into the history books, you’ll need to know some things that you can enjoy with family and friends in this peaceful, little town.  One of the most spectacular sights that you must see at night is the brightly lighted Christmas tree in Veterans Garden.  Stop for a few moments and ponder on the real meaning of Christmas and think about our veterans who have fought for your freedom to enjoy Christmas.  You may also want to remember our military men and women who are currently serving our country away from their own families and friends during this special time of year.

Along with your children and friends, you can take some time to explore downtown Mebane; take a stroll through some of the eclectic antique shops, specialty boutiques, and art galleries.  Whether you grab a snack or a hot beverage at one of the local coffee shops, ice cream parlors, or fine restaurants, you’re sure to be pleased with the delicious fare and the pleasant, Southern hospitality of the wait staff.  You can find homemade cheesecake, fantastic cupcakes, and quaint taverns where you can try a variety of beverages from around the world.  You may want to try a martini, enjoy a glass of good wine, or tap your toes to the live music provided in some of the local establishments on a weekly basis; whatever option you choose is sure to make yours an enjoyable and unforgettable evening.  Make Clay Street one of your destinations as you meander toward Elon with fun and excitement in mind. From delicious homemade milk shakes to sundaes to tempt your taste buds to banana pudding that will melt in your mouth, the cuisine available in Mebane is second to none in the Carolinas.

Another great destination in downtown Mebane is the Mebane Train Museum that features its own Polar Express.  Located at the corner of Lee and Third Streets, the Museum will capture the attention of children of all ages; you will all delight at the magic that unfolds right before your eyes.

There are plenty of activities to keep you engaged here in Mebane and enjoying the Christmas season with your family and friends.  It’s a good idea to remember during this busy season to take a deep breath, enjoy what’s around you, and to remember that there’s no place like home.



Dec. 14, 2014

Christmas time in Elon NC!

Elon’s Christmas Events for Your Holiday Calendar

You and your family thoroughly enjoyed Elon’s Christmas in the Park and now you’re ready for some other activities that will make your Christmas special this year.  You can still enjoy the twinkling lights in Beth Schmidt Park; take a long leisurely stroll with someone special and make plans for a bright and prosperous 2015.  There are some beautiful locations to snap spectacular pictures to use on your Christmas cards for family and friends; using some of the gorgeous landscapes that are lighted along rustic trails will add a special touch to the card you send for the Christmas season.

Downtown Elon is tastefully decorated and provides you with a myriad of quaint restaurants where you can grab a quick meal or a hot beverage after your stroll through the park.  While the students are gone for Holiday break, it may be the perfect time to check out Elon shops and restaurants.   Be sure to stop into The Root Trackside for a Foodie Grilled Cheese or to sample one of their delicious homemade soups.  Pandora’s also offers delicious pizzas made from all local ingredients.   If you need last minute Christmas gifts make sure to browse the merchants along Williamson Avenue for just the right gift for your children or parents.  It’s always a great idea to support local shop owners in their quest to furnish you with merchandise that helps them to enjoy happy holidays with their loved ones as well.  With Elon University just right around the corner you may encounter some young musicians who are strumming on Christmas carols as they laugh and enjoy life in this small, peaceful town.

Other opportunities for great music and fun may also be found at some of the local schools in the Alamance-Burlington School System.  You’ll enjoy funny dramas with tiny tots as the main characters, band and choral concerts that deliver the sounds of the season, and plenty of homemade goodies at bake sales and events that satisfy your sweet tooth and help you find tasty gifts for your friends.  

Making memories with your family and friends adds meaning to your Christmas holidays and if you can enjoy the festive atmosphere of Elon and the merchants along Williamson Avenue, this time can become a tradition that you enjoy year after year.

Dec. 10, 2014

Gibsonville NC Christmas Parade - Local Holiday Happenings!

Gibsonville’s Christmas Parade to Add to Your Holiday Fun Calendar

There’s something to be said for a good old-fashioned Christmas Parade complete with floats, bands, dance groups, horses, and entertainment that thrills you and your family.  On your calendar for Christmas in Gibsonville this year, you’ll want to mark Saturday, December 13 at 2:00 pm so you won’t miss a minute of the celebration taking place along our city streets.  You can see Santa and Mrs. Claus before he heads back to the North Pole to finish up his toy-making duties and enjoy some of the music provided by our local school bands who are worked tirelessly to make your Christmas joyful and bright.
Before the parade begins or as it winds down you may want to grab a quick bite in one of the local restaurants or do some last minute Christmas shopping in one of the stores along Main Street.  Supporting your local businesses and eateries can help to make the season more enjoyable for everyone. Take time to stroll along with your children and share stories with them especially if you grew up in Gibsonville about what Christmas was once like in this quaint little town.  If you’re new to the area, it’s fun to chat with some of the local residents about the history of Gibsonville and how it became known as the “city of the roses.”  Take the children by the Gibsonville Museum which is open on the third Saturday of each month from 10:00 am until 1 pm and learn about the history of this region rich in tradition like the annual Christmas Parade. 

The Parks and Recreation Department of Gibsonville does a great deal to keep activities interesting and unique for you as you live, work, and play here.  They work diligently to keep the Christmas Parade each year a fun-filled event that you can photograph and remember for years to come.  Be sure that you bundle up the children, grab a cup of hot chocolate, and come enjoy the splendor of the Christmas parade in Gibsonville this year.

Dec. 10, 2014

Christmas in Graham NC - Local Holiday Happenings!

Graham’s Christmas Activities for Your Calendar

When you want to create memories with your children and other loved ones that last a lifetime you have to look no further than the Event Calendar of Graham to find a myriad of opportunities for fun, fellowship, and excitement for kids of all ages.  When you want to participate in some exhilarating activities that are sure to provide you with fun and laughter be sure to take in some of the events listed below.
Until December 21 you can try your hand or skates at ice skating on the lawn of the Alamance Arts Captain White House in Graham.  Sessions begin on the hour and take place on the synthetic ice arena with real skates.  Your $5 session fee for a period of 45 minutes includes skate rental and the fun and excitement are free; it’s always fun to try new things especially during festive Christmas celebrations.  Some special programs will also be held at the Ice Skating Rink for you and the kids to enjoy; on December 15, you can sign up to play broom hockey and challenge your friends and neighbors to a game of skill on the ice.  On December 16 and 18 your children can skate free with the characters free with the purchase of an ice rink ticket; what better to teach the little ones the fun of exercise with their friends.  Your family can enjoy Campfire Night on December 12, 13, 19, and 20 and devour some delicious s’mores which will be on sale 2 for $1.  Be sure to mark December 14 from 1 to 3 pm on your calendar; the children can visit with Santa, receive some cookies, and have a picture emailed to you as a keepsake of this memorable occasion.

This two-week extravaganza of fun and entertainment takes place on Main Street in Graham and will give you the opportunity to meet your neighbors and friends for some healthy outdoor activity; there’s something to be said for gathering around a camp fire and telling tales from your childhood memories of Christmases past.  Little ones delight in the magic of your stories and can enjoy quality time with you as they begin to develop fond memories of their own to be passed to the next generation.  From cookies to broom hockey to the thrill of gliding along on the synthetic ice beneath your skates, you can take your Christmas celebration to a new level by visiting the downtown ice skating rink in Graham with those whom you love.

Dec. 10, 2014

Local Holiday Happenings and Events in Burlington!

Burlington Christmas Happenings

Burlington’s Christmas Activities to Enjoy

Part of the fun of living in a friendly community like Burlington is enjoying some of the special events that add to the festivity of your family’s Christmas celebration.  Let’s take a look at some things you must put on your calendar so you won’t miss all of the fun and excitement of Christmas in Burlington.

First, you’ll want to take your loved ones to downtown Burlington on Friday, December 12 for the Dickens Christmas celebration to be held from 6:00-9:00; you can enjoy the magic of the Christmas wonderland that is filled with twinkling lights, good cheer, and plenty of opportunities for your family to enjoy.  You’ll love the entertainment, the delicious food, and a plethora of events that will delight the child in you no matter what your age.  There will be horse drawn carriage rides, face painting, and the 20 foot snow hill on Front near Danny’s Café.  You can enjoy strolling carolers, and a Holiday Selfie Station where you can snap a picture with the Jolly Old Elf himself.  

Tis better to give than to receive and during the Dickens Christmas celebration you can donate canned foods to the canned food Christmas tree which will help to feed those less fortunate in Alamance County.  Friendly elves will take your donations and arrange and adorn the tree with your gifts of love; it always gives you a good feeling inside to help those who appreciate a helping hand during the holidays.

If you’re a train enthusiast, you’ll want to visit the Holiday Model Train Display that being held daily through December 22 for a unique event that adds a touch of nostalgia to your Christmas.  This intricate display will light up the eyes of your children and impress you with the attention that’s given to the details in these beautiful displays.  Located in Burlington’s historic Depot this is a must see for kids of all ages.

Christmas in the Park will be held on December 22 from 6:00-9:00 pm and promises to be a magical time for you and your loved ones.  You’ll find thousands of lights throughout the amusement park, tasty refreshments at the Thataways Youth Center, and Santa taking your last minute requests before he heads back to the North Pole.  You can also view the live nativity scene and interact with some animals from the Lazy Five Ranch; bring your family to ride the carousel and train free of charge and purchase some Christmas cookies or baked goods from the Burlington Youth Council so that you’ll have a special treat for Santa on Christmas Eve.  From hayrides to children’s crafts to free face painting, you’ll find something for every member of your family at Christmas in the Park.

Christmas memories are truly special for your family and by enjoying some of the events planned in Burlington, you can capture the magic of Christmas.


Nov. 21, 2014

Tips for Finding the Right Real Estate Agent

Because buying a home is one of the most important decisions that you’ll ever make, it’s imperative that you work with a professional who can help you find exactly the home that you want.  The expensive investment that you are about to make will impact your life for years to come, so having an expert by your side can provide you with peace of mind as well as confidence in the final decision that you ultimately make.  Let’s take a look at some tips for finding the right realtor who can make this transaction smooth and hassle-free for you and your family.

1. Your first question of any realtor should be about the length of time that he has been in business and if he works full time at this profession.  Knowing that the realtor is searching for your new home on a full time schedule can expedite the process for finding the home of your dreams.  You should also ask about any specialized credential that the agent holds; if he engages in professional development on a regular basis you can rest assured that he is aware of the latest strategies for negotiating a good price for the home that interests you.

2. Another good question to ask is related to the experience that the realtor has in the industry.  Ask how many homes his company has sold in the last few months, the amount of time normally required to sell a home in your area, and what the selling price was compared to the asking price.  You’ll want to consider the market trends in your area and the state of the economy but his answers to these questions gives you an idea of his skill level in both pricing homes and marketing the homes to potential buyers.

3. As you speak with a real estate agent at your initial meeting, be sure to ask how he plans to market your home if you’re a seller or what techniques he plans to use to help you find the home of your dreams. The most dynamic realtors are tech savvy individuals who leave no cyber stone unturned in the effort to sell or locate your home.  You must have aggressive and innovative approaches that bring results; gone are the days of sticking a sign in your yard and hoping for the best.   You and the agent must understand that good communications is the key to a successful selling or buying process; the agent must return your calls and be available to answer your questions; you should also inform him of how you like to communicate. Do you prefer texts, emails, or would you like the old traditional telephone call with a good offer?

Before you choose the real estate agent with whom you want to partner either to sell your house or buy your dream home, make sure that he has a passion for his work, will work hard on your behalf, and that his goals and objectives match yours.