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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dec. 31, 2015 Circle, The Year Ends and Begins, Like Me, Like You

I have spent the last year sifting and sorting every part of my life: preparing to immerse myself in all the throes of the digital world, the social media, the technology of real estate and the world, the sense of economies, large and small, the wonder of grasping the identification of generations, the erosion of our city by the gold miners who have always been here taking different shapes and names but always skimming and scheming and digging and leaving large gaping holes in which they sometimes make their getaway and leave us wondering what happened? And as I fall through the mist of tears and joy, as I read old love letters and cherish all the photos I have taken on all the streets and in the villages and of the trees and favorite places and people, I hold my hands to my heart in thankfulness. I will not land. And as I go from place to place on different levels, there are some places I want you to see both then and now, either or both, from the world where I have placed them. The Archives.Is this real estate? Nothing could be more of head and heart than this home called Charlotte, my beginning. I will start at the one such beginning for me. Matthews Market. In the heart of Matthews by Renfroe Hardware. The market is where I begin my week that starts every Saturday morning rain or snow or sleet  and the only thing that keeps me away is severe illness or being out of the country and even then I am at a market somewhere if only in my heart and soul. The market is the end and the beginning. The final fruit is brought for us to nourish our bodies and in this doing, my spirit, our spirits, are nourished. I firmly believe I am alive today, healthy today from all the ravages of chemo-therapy, radiation and surgery and resulting side effects of each by the food raised, planted, grown and tended by these gentle folk. Two days ago, camera in hand I went to the marketplace. Still amidst the bustle of Matthews. Still and yet, I can hear voices, the songs of market. Still, though I can see, the people I know scurrying from vendor to vendor, chat with the volunteers, see the farm children grow into adults, see the swales of new and old visitors and when it is finished, the stands and tables and simple signs and the billowing tents remain and the dirt and gravel grind beneath my boots and a tall tree stands over all reaching her boughs high and her roots deep. This is me.
 I am the tree and this is what I bring you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Mind at Rest Starts to Play Again

One door closes another opens

We know in the business of real estate, the days can be long, the nights stressful and there are just never enough hours in the day, or so it seems. There is the work at hand, goal setting for the next quarter, the holidays, classes, conferences and the major domo, change. The days are exhilarating, the pace is quick and strong, and the excitement of the evolving real estate industry keeps body and mind at a steady clip. Sometimes it is good to close the door and walk away.

The mind at rest starts to play again

 I did just that this weekend. I left computers and iPad, podcast microphone, notes for clients, and a how-to-start a blog instruction for classmates in process. Set up for Halloween for the neighborhood children and parents who walk along the trick or treat trail was my chief concern. For forty years I  set baskets of organic fruit at my gate and, often in costume, most recently a chicken, I look for the families to come, stop and chat, see their children as they grow from year to year, meet new neighbors and chat with old friends. I like the real people with their children, kids in their costumes, some moms and dads, too, and me in a chicken hat, all add balance to real estate’s moving and shaking, the digital world of data, more numbers and a plethora of predictions; a chance to think of nothing more than our home place.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

September 26, 2015 From our archives!

Map: Uptown condo development

Posted: Saturday, Mar. 06, 2010

Charlotte's uptown vision is
delayed as condo sales sag

With condo demand flagging, plans for a center city fueled by a population boom will have to wait a little longer.

By Kerry Hall Singe
Posted: Monday, Mar. 08, 2010
Kerry Hall Singe writes on business and development for The Charlotte Observer.
March 08, 2010
Aerial photograph of Charlotte's skyline, taken from the southeast. Experts predict many new uptown condominium units will be converted to rentals, and that others will come down in price. "Uptown is going to become more affordable," says Bill Miley, Metrostudy's Charlotte market manager. GARY O'BRIEN -, FROM WCNC AIRSTAR 6

More Information

  • Map: Uptown condo development
  • Building by building: Update on condo construction
  • Two views: A buyer, a renter
  • Two residents' experiences
Two residents' experiences
The buyer
Rob Cummings moved to Fourth Ward with his wife, Lana, and two young children from south Charlotte in 2003, attracted by the idea of being able to walk to restaurants, parks and sporting events. In 2005, he put down a deposit on a unit at The Vue for his mother for when she retires.
An operating partner at a Charlotte-based private equity firm, Cummings said the quality of life has improved over the years. His son, Cole, recently celebrated his birthday at Strike City bowling alley and the family enjoys walking to the EpiCentre to eat pizza and ice cream.
Cummings, past president of the Friends of Fourth Ward neighborhood association, said he knows his house has lost value recently. But he also see signs of economic revival - such as a wine bar that opened recently on North Tryon Street where a drugstore once was.
"I feel that uptown was positioned to really explode. I still think it will," he said. "It will just take longer than expected."
The renter
Tim Jones, 26, a client service consultant at Wells Fargo & Co., said he thought briefly about buying when he was looking at moving from South End to uptown last year. He decided to rent, partly because he wasn't sure he could get the value he wanted if he purchased a condo.
He chose a one-bedroom at the Catalyst at South Church Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard.
Jones enjoys his two-block walk to work, and the building's workout room and luxury clubhouse.
He plans to renew his lease and sees a "huge amount of growth potential" for his new neighborhood.
Plans were increasingly grand.
Luxury condos on top of boutique hotels. Penthouses with elevators for owners' cars. Predictions that more than 17,000 residents would live uptown today, about double the number at the start of the decade.
Developers announced at least 20 condo high-rises for the center city during the mid-2000s, earning Charlotte a national reputation as a darling among downtown economic developers.
Then the recession hit and, as with much of America, uptown's future swiftly changed.
Instead of 20 towers, eight have been built.
Of two roughly 50-story high rises, one made it out of the ground, but the Vue faces obstacles in a market dominated by first-time homebuyers and speculators looking to buy cheap.
Condos that once sold for around $400,000 are now on the market in the mid-$200s. Average closing prices have fallen to levels last seen in 2003, according to one analysis.
Uptown's population has stayed flat - estimated at about 11,000 residents, the same number cited by uptown boosters four years ago.
On the brighter side, falling prices will make uptown more affordable. And developers finished marquee projects - notably the EpiCentre entertainment complex and Wells Fargo Cultural Campus with three museums and a theater - that economic developers say will boost uptown's appeal. The NASCAR Hall of Fame opens in May.
The center city's housing market is also expected to rebound faster than the Charlotte area as a whole, some say. That's because Charlotte is among the fastest-growing metro areas, and many newcomers are young professionals, ideal candidates for uptown living.
A healthy downtown is important because it can help attract new companies to the region, said Michael Smith, president of Charlotte Center City Partners, an uptown booster. Companies often prefer cities that offer a variety of lifestyles for employees, he said.
"It's the living room for a community," he said of uptown. "When someone wants to know how healthy Charlotte is, they're going to come and look at the center city."
The vision for what uptown could become isn't dead, experts say. But the dreams have been pushed back five to 10 years, they estimate.
"It's not so much the financial crash has dashed the hopes of Charlotte's uptown for being a great neighborhood," said Peter Compton, a real estate economist with PPR, part of Bethesda, Md.-based CoStar Group. "It's delayed it."
Condo glut
David Furman, one of uptown's most bullish believers and active developers, remembers the early warning signs in 2008.
His 202-unit, $73 million condo high-rise, TradeMark, was about 95 percent sold when people started having trouble closing.
At the same time, buyers at another condo project, 184-unit Quarterside in First Ward, tried to get out of their contracts, he said. As sales dropped, his company aggressively marketed the building but didn't get any nibbles.
"I thought, 'We're screwed,'" he recalled.
He later converted Quarterside to rental units to cut his losses, one of three condo projects to do so last year. He says the 28-story TradeMark is "stable" and he is renting out some units that didn't sell until the market improves.
"It was booming beyond what was sustainable," he said of uptown's condo market, which grew rapidly in the mid-2000s before tapering off last year. "I still think there is a thirst for urbanism. Downtown is feeling the same pain as everywhere."
Optimism for the center city blossomed during the mid-2000s as Charlotte's economy flourished, thanks largely to Bank of America and Wachovia, which employed thousands of workers at their uptown headquarters.
Between 2004 and 2007, developers announced plans that would have created more than 3,000 condos in the 20 planned towers. Proposed investment topped $3.6 billion.
Developers were betting on bank employees and other finance-related workers to snap up the units. Upscale eateries also moved in to cater to the new residents, adding to uptown's allure. The banks were also racking up record profits at the time and announcing new building projects of their own.
By fall 2007, work had started on four towers - two of which have since been canceled.
One project that made it up, Catalyst, converted to rentals because condos weren't selling. Rents start at $1,100 a month. The other tower, The Vue, is expected to be completed in fall, and some residents might move in this summer.
By January 2008, however, developers were canceling plans, citing an uncertain economy.
Uptown's future took another hit as thousands of banking and finance workers lost their jobs amid the banking industry's meltdown. Wachovia was sold to San Francisco-based Wells Fargo & Co.
Currently, about 1,100 units are under construction and less than 50 are built but vacant in uptown, according to national industry tracker Metrostudy.
Compton, the economist, estimates uptown has a five-year supply of condos available.
Bill Miley, Metrostudy's Charlotte market manager, said a significant number of the units coming online will probably convert to rentals.
"Developers really jumped on the bandwagon because the towers that were the first ones finished sold out and did very well," Miley said. "Unfortunately, all the ones now under construction are going to have a hard time.
"Uptown is going to become more affordable," he said. "(Owners) will have to lower prices to get rid of inventory, make them rentals or give them back to the bank."
Sales prices have fallen
Real estate analyst Emma Littlejohn said uptown condos on average may have lost 20 percent to 25 percent of their value during the past two years.
Some have lost more. A two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit at Fifth and Poplar Condominiums that sold for $427,500 in 2007, for example, is listed for sale at $285,000 - a one-third drop.
The good news, Littlejohn said, is she believes there is demand for both condos for sale and rentals.
"The housing will be occupied," she said. "People want to live downtown."
She also said Charlotte was lucky in that, unlike in cities such as Miami, the skyline isn't marred by unfinished projects.
Uptown has one eyesore - the rusting skeleton of the failed high-rise The Park at Third and Caldwell streets. But construction may resume as a new owner took over the project last fall and recently filed for rezoning for a hotel/condo combination.
"It's not like we got caught with 10 towers all the way up," Littlejohn said.
Uptown boosters, however, got a scare last fall when The Vue's general contractor stopped work because it hadn't been paid. The Chicago-based developer, MCL Cos., had fallen behind on its payments but renegotiated with its lenders. Work resumed more than a month later.
Dan McLean of MCL Cos. has said he believes sales will pick up once buyers can tour finished units, and he is counting on empty nesters and others looking for second homes to purchase units.
He has said about half of the 409-unit building at Fifth and Pine streets is pre-sold. He has said he won't convert to rentals.
Prices start at around $280,000, the same as when MCL took over about three years ago.
Closings for new and existing uptown homes hit a high of 533 in 2006 before they fell to 153 last year, according to an analysis of transactions through the Carolina Multiple Listing Service from 2003 through 2009 by the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association. The listing doesn't include private sales and some new construction.
Average sales prices rose steadily from about $260,000 in 2003 to a high of nearly $350,000 five years later before falling back to around $260,000 last year, according to the association. The drop is largely due to sales at Fourth Ward Square, an apartment complex that converted to condos starting at around $100,000.
Newcomer Leeanne McManus bought one of those condos a year and a half ago after she moved to Charlotte from Portland, Ore., to be closer to family.
A wireless telecommunications project manager who works from home, McManus wanted to be within walking distance of restaurants, entertainment and the library.
"When this deal came along," she said, "I jumped on the opportunity to live uptown, without breaking the bank."
Growth could help
Charlotte Center City Partners estimated 17,750 residents would be living uptown and in nearby areas by now. That hasn't happened. Smith says 25,000 residents by 2020 is "incredibly achievable."
Charlotte's population is expected to grow faster than the nation's on average - about 2.4 percent a year during the next five years, according to CoStar Group, which studies real estate markets in the United States and abroad.
While that's less than past growth rates, it's higher than the 1 percent growth expected for the country as a whole, Compton said.
Compton said uptown is also likely to see new jobs first, compared to the rest of the Charlotte region. He sees employers moving into downtown because rents have fallen and new space is coming onto the market this year.
Recovery, Compton said, will be "long and drawn out." But uptown should fare better than the city as a whole because "it's a desirable location, the amenities are there, and it will become more affordable."
Veteran real estate appraiser Fitzhugh Stout agrees with Compton's assessment, saying uptown's commercial properties have probably lost 10 percent to 40 percent of their value from two years ago.
He expects to see some high-end restaurants close in the center city and be replaced by more moderately priced ones. He doesn't anticipate much retail moving in anytime soon.
Uptown's housing recovery could take five to 10 years, he said. While he's "very" upbeat about uptown, Stout said, "it may be a while before we see any significant appreciation."

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Condominiums and townhomes within a three to four block area at Cotswold.

NEW:Introduction to The Book of Condos

Rosewood at Providence

STATS HTLA: From  1986   to  3762 Bedrooms: 1,2,3 Report 7/31/15 for 6 months: From 420K         to  1.5M Exterior: Hard coat stucco, stone Description: Elegant, period piece with turrets and balconies Amenities: Elevators, fitness center, business center,
concierge services, on site property manager, massage room, storage room, garage, 2 deeded parking spaces,
pool, tennis courts, 24 hr security 

Say what you will about Rosewood...I was there on opening night as this project was presented to the Charlotte real estate community and it was a dazzling presentation. I was struck that anyone would pay the millions paid for those nearly nine acres...but I live here.
To me the house and the people had history and I had grown up with roses on that corner and the rolling land behind where horses once grazed. I felt it was special and so must these investor/developers from Georgia. I thought it was bold and gorgeous and risky.
But I live here.
More importantly, I have a love affair with Charlotte and thought this would mark the beginning of our rise as a great city of the south...with more than just red brick homes, traditional architecture and safe designs.
In CondoCanDo's library of Charlotte Condominiums, I open the book written about Rosewood for that auspicious evening and to introduce the vision to us and to prospective home owners, and read:

"The Roses. For Charlotteans, this name calls to mind splashes of vivid color embellishing the well traveled crossroads at Providence and Sharon Amity. Here passerby have been fascinated, delighted, and intrigued by the roses. Planted in remembrance of a mother who lovingly coaxed plants from unyielding soil there, these roses adorned the gardens of a family estate where Oliver and Marie Rowe raised their children and entertained their friends. The legacy of this park like setting is coming alive in a community of fine condominium homes. Rosewood takes its name from a beloved past,elegantly presented and appointed for gracious living once again."

 Crosby Drive
Built 1964   HTLA: From 1053  to 1690 Bedrooms: 1,2,3  Report 7/31/15 for 6 months: From 65K  to  132,900 Exterior: Brick veneer   Description:Two story. Each level has flats, exterior hallways, separate entrances. Very much like a motel. Efficient units. 1 carport,1 parking space. Amenities: Pool, recreational area.

I discovered Tropicana as I built the first condo database in Charlotte in the mid- eighties. It popped up in the tax books as a square, a courtyard perhaps like  those at colleges or the beach and here on Crosby Drive, almost across the street from Rosewood, a most unusual condominium not unlike a motor lodge from the fifties...complete with pool.

Cotswold Homes

on Woodlark Lane, Andover Road and Chelmsford Road
Once apartments converted to condos, investors brought about a slow descent and the arrival of section 8 housing. In the 80's, a couple with a retired mother or mother-in-law, I forget, bought one for her. It was close to their home. She could walk to shopping, have a place to walk her small dog and the garden condominium was just the right size. Not too big and not too small, only one story. Her daughter took note of the condition of this community and set about to make it shine. Years and years, stories, and new rules and regulations, repairs and care for the aging trees, lighting and proper landscaping followed until it is now a prize and will only get better now that it has survived the Great Recession as well.

Gaynor Arms
on Gaynor Drive   

    The woman who built this in 1971, the first newly built condominium as as condominium was an amazing woman in anything she did and I knew her. I knew her  work. 

As she reached a retirement age she discovered there were  few or no suitable homes for her or her friends, so she designed and built Gaynor Arms, the very first new condominium built in Charlotte with the Unit File Number 1. Her name is Kathryn Smetana and there is story and picture early on of this incredible woman. I met her working at the paper and helped her with her advertising.

The Cotswolds

at Sloane Square
Built in 1999 by The Boulevard Company, the complex is a micro village with a private pool in the center and secure walkways around each section. Garages, some two, some one. Some are brick, some stucco, some mixed. They are on slabs and one might find Masters on Main as well. Walking distance to Cotswold Shopping Center.
Heated living space 1785 to 2187 and recently the range is $304,0000 to $386,100 with a premium for master on main

This block boasts condominiums, apartments,  a nursing home and a rather swanky retirement community, not yet opened. Randolph Road is an artery to the city and to health care facilities..

Saturday, July 18, 2015

CondoCanDo's archives: Stories from 2005 regarding condominiuums

Sep. 07, 2005

Hot trends so far in 2005

The Next Big Thing

Four of seven residential high-rises announced over the past 16 months are under way uptown, and two are almost ready to start taking contracts.
To satisfy demand for homes closer to the center city, apartment complexes -- and possibly even a hotel -- are going condo.
A 30-acre entertainment village is under way in the northwest corner of Fourth Ward.
And the uptown development surge north of The Square is finally spreading -- to South Tryon Street, West Trade Street and Second Ward.
Outside the core, development booms in southwest Mecklenburg as rim counties experience a surge in commercial and residential activity.
Those are some of the trends spotlighted in The Next Big Thing column, which debuted Feb. 16.
The idea was to look beyond the breaking news of the day and provide context for readers to understand a real estate trend and its potential implications.
In the early weeks, we wondered whether the Charlotte region was large enough to have a Next Big Thing every week. Boy, are we convinced now.
We've traveled from Mooresville to Lancaster County, from Matthews to Belmont talking with developers, planners, analysts and residents.
As we research the issues through the end of the year, check our list of the top trends from the first six months of The Next Big Thing.
The High-Rise Buzz
One of the biggest surprises in urban development is the dramatic shift toward high-rise living.
Seven residential towers have been announced uptown. Construction is under way on four -- 17-story Courtside, 28-story TradeMark, 13-story 230 South Tryon and 36-story Avenue.
Developer Pete Verna said he expects to start work this month on The Park, 21 stories.
The Vue Charlotte, a 50-story tower, is opening its sales center Monday at 101 N. Tryon St. in One Independence Center.
And Avenue plans to open its sales office Saturday at 500 W. Fifth St., Suite 120.
The developer of EpiCentre's proposed 53-story residential tower hasn't disclosed details.
The center city appeals to empty-nesters and young professionals attracted by cultural amenities, entertainment and restaurants.
Many people also are striving to live closer to their jobs in the center city -- a trend that could become more popular in the wake of the gasoline crunch.
How intense is interest?
Churchill Development Group LLC, developer of The Vue Charlotte, said more than 3,000 people have requested information about that project's 403 units by phone and e-mail. And 400 have made appointments to talk with a sales agent about purchasing. The Vue Fifth & Poplar RiverGate 230 South Tryon

Friday, July 17, 2015

Let's Chat About Elizabeth, the surrounds and a favorite condo...Laureldale


Elizabeth is neighbor to many: Myers Park, Plaza Midwood, Eastover, Uptown and Home to CPCC,
 The Street Car and Presbyterian now Novant.

A quad in many ways with nuances, Laureldale

Charlotte has at the moment seven historic districts or neighborhoods: ( Dilworth, North Davidson (No Da), Plaza Midwood, Fourth Ward, Wesley Heights, Hempstead and Wilmore, the last two, the latest. Elizabeth has a National designation historically. I am not sure of the details but here is a Google Map. Elizabeth fringes Chantilly, Eastover, Myers Park, Plaza Midwood and maybe even Villa Heights. Monroe Road becomes E. 7th, Hawthorne becomes Queens Road or vice versa, Randolph Road becomes Fourth Street and Independence, 74, slices off a stretch.
I suppose I am drawn to the trees, old and
 limber, inviting and providing shade.

Condominiums fall into a wide range as well. Off 7th on Clement there is a wonderful historic home that has been converted to condos, Alexander House. This occurrence runs throughout Charlotte especially in the older areas. Years ago one very progressive real estate broker converted several of the big mansions in Myers Park to condos. I always think of her as visionary. And part of me believes we will see that happen again as the population ages and the luster of the large old homes and new large homes become passé.
Favorites: In Myers Park fringe area: Boxwood by Brian Speas, the gentleman builder who builds a superior product always and generally in Myers Park, Eastover, Barclay Downs, Park Road and some infill around Freedom Park. An oldie, Queens Mark, also that same fringe area, the first new wave of lofts, Elizabeth Lofts, and one of my very favorite favorites, Elizabeth on the Park
Tucked off the beaten path yet touching it. Location!
The grounds keep Laureldale's charm intact.
overlooking Independence Park, and pictured here, Laureldale. Once apartments, the setting is between Randolph and Fifth, lovely brick buildings, a pretty quad, central laundry ( a telltale sign of  apartment conversion in that era) Alson Court across Randolph is in Eastover. Once apartments and converted, Alson is a grand old building with one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom units, a handful of garages, built like Fort Knox.
 Laureldale’s  neighbor, The Grove, is a handsome renovation of old apartments. Density reigns approaching Hawthorne as it crosses 74 with Hawthorne Bridge, Elizabeth Village et al. A wonderful conversion, The Rutzler, 1920, renovated in 2005 has a new apartment building as its neighbor, at Louise and Central.
I have been thinking about how to illustrate the variety of condominiums in any given area. Maybe I will make a chart so we can look at their differences even though they all post a prime location. It is a game I play with myself, CondoCanDo!
The location is Randolph Road at Sharon Amity, Cotswold.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Poplar in Fourth Ward, circa 1926 Something old, something new, something borrowed, something true.

A simple, elegant entrance, hardly
noticeable to a mere passerby.

A pocket garden of roses, of course.

The Poplar, 1926 in Fourth Ward
started as apartments. Hmmmm?

July 2015

Charlotte is on the rise. Towers uptown are on the rise. Apartment projects proliferate the corners on our main thoroughfares as we wait for the surge of the Millennial Generation. First the apartments, then the conversions, then the lines blur and maybe we stop to wonder what happened. Because we are no stranger to being the Belle of the Ball. We are
 a city of the New South and we are a city of folks who tear down the old for the
 promise of newer and better and greater.

 Until there is a whiff of maybe not...
So, to ease my wondering about the cadres of investors who boast the building of apartment buildings with not just twenty or thirty apartments but hundreds, I wander around in the Charlotte I know so well. Through the sparkle of new and tall and lean and open, I wind my way to Historic Fourth Ward to one of my most favorite condominiums, The Poplar.
Like a grand dame she reposes on the fringe, too taken with her rose garden, her lovely, petite roof top, garnering a nice pleasant view of the skyline, this  city of the New South, as she gazes down on historic homes and the narrow streets with large trees.
I was a student of The Poplar long ago in the 80's. Max The Wonder Dog and I were taking pictures uptown on a Sunday morning, a young couple stopped to speak to Max, a handsome tawny Briard. They saw our license tag, "RE LADY", and asked if I were a realtor? They were looking for a condo uptown. Max got credit for the sale. I made new friends and discovered the inside workings of The Poplar.
Poplar and Tenth in  Historic Fourth Ward

Every once in a while, I like to visit to see how much I remember and to make new discoveries like the elevators fore and aft. The second I step foot in the lobby I am whisked away to New York City. The Poplar has that kind of ambiance. Is it NYC or Europe?
Hardwood floors throughout, some condo homes large and spacious with fabulous light from the old glass carefully hung in metal casings, taller ceilings and an aura of having lived many lives, these spaces whose stories include lauded musicians and artists
and people of creative bent.

Fourth Ward and Uptown Condos:

Just for fun...we know the names of the biggest, newest, shiniest,
but have heart, there are others:
Tenth Avenue Townhomes,Brennan Court, Poplar Place,Settlers Alley, 400 North Church,409 West 8th Street, Sixth and Pine Townhouses, Barringer Square,
Chapel Watch,Churchill to name a few.

And this then begs the question? Older or newer?

Next , Condo CanDo® and I take a walk through Elizabeth.
Elizabeth is a Nationally recognized historic neighborhood.
As is Myers Park.

Laureldale in Elizabeth
How to tell if they were at one time, apartments?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

June 7th, 2015 Sunday morning

The French have a saying, the gist being you
have to go too far to know where enough is.

The idea of balance comes this morning as I walk through the garden section at Lowe’s, looking at tags to see if I know the names of flowers or shrubs, scanning for those I have in my own garden to see if there is anything new. I know that I can only look these days because I have planted all I can; there is enough- except for those I need to replace only after I have tended them to see if they will come back. Many do. Often. I love the garden. I love Charlotte, NC. My home for over sixty years.
And then I think about the balance between like and love and indifference and irrelevance and how we discover those feelings or attitudes within our own beings and how they take shape by our experiences.
Whether a garden, a home, a relationship, a city…
I think about how anything can become an addiction, how we shape our thoughts and match our actions and create a rhythm that can be moderated, syncopated or out of control, and imbalanced. I am a real estate broker and have been for nigh on to thirty years now and still going strong…what does love and balance and discipline have to do with our city?


Thursday, June 4, 2015

June 4, 2015
What do I see?

Charlotte, NC is a beautiful city in many ways.Not all the ways readily visible because some like to tear down buildings and homes and restaurants to make way for new. It is as though we cannot be content with what we have achieved but keep pushing to prove that we are a cool city…or that we will be when everyone wants to come here. We boast about our location between the mountains and the sea, we celebrate our weather because for the most part it is ideal with only a few exceptions here and there. Charlotte is made of fine stuff. But all that glitters is not gold. The rumbling I hear from every corner troubles me. The marauders have come. The faceless who buy and sell. I call it the Board Game. There are those who come or who are joined by others called investors who build buildings because the money is cheap not because they are interested in office space or living space. They are interested in selling the building before they even build it. And the buildings I see them building are far from inspired, not even close to filling an appealing corner with a statement that helps define our gracious southern city. We become fodder. Charlotte becomes an opportunity. And we help. Because no one is watching the store, no one is tending the look, the appeal, the city blocks, the neighborhood history, the countryside sprawl. We are busy going fast. Waiting for someone to speak up and say, “What is happening?” Why is what is happening troubling? Is it because our identity as a charming southern city is hurtling forward at a rate not easily changed. Because blocks and blocks of apartments without design or imagination or thoughtfulness are casting corner after corner so we can lose our way on frequent boulevards because they all look alike. It is already too late.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Going My Way?

May 14, 2015

I am not Dorothy and this is not Oz..
Could it be that tornadoes and tidal waves and earthquakes are spawn at the root level of our own cultures, born of seeds tainted with a deep hunger for more even before life is tasted, well before love preens our heart for the magical elixir, and surely before we connect words with deeds or thoughts with needs or will to live in peace.
I heard the tornado and remember what we were taught: head for the cellar, go to an interior room, crouch under a table, take cover and pray. The unravelling of our financial system, the crumbling banks, the deep eddies of derivatives and off shore investors and wall street speculation, loan packages subprime lending heeled with the likes of too many new ways to spin the gold, too often poorly constructed on every level: surely the winds would howl, certainly there would be a price to pay.

I am not even me anymore. For every where I look the stages are different, the headlines are often misspelled, the water rises and falls, and the mongers have latched on to the very essence of our real estate business, fragile at best, lacking in many ways, but still at the moment a tried and nearly true and growing practice that for the most part was good, kept most folks on the path and delivered millions of people into homes of their own and billions of dollars into the economy.

Then those who hang on tree limbs could see that here was truly the way to the yellow brick road. Real estate could be monetized in a zillion ways. The agents could work to secure listings (those homes and condos of the homeowners who give their trust to the agents to represent them fairly, to do their best), their brokers could sell their listings to the big search engines and the real estate association could actually believe they were getting a deal by sharing the work of the worker bees. And this giving of the treasure, the listings, the data collectors mined, culled the data and the world was overjoyed and thought it was now welcomed in the world of the fourth estate.
The worker bees, like real bees, are being eaten and now monetized by even more than their own association has. For the data collectors, the huge search engines, the data is free, the way to mine is negligible really, the information is out there for all of us. We like pushing a button and having information immediately.

Now the real cannibals arrive, setting up more ways to sell the agents, and to have the agents buy the space to sell themselves based on the properties they have sold and to also help those agents create a network of referrals so the money trickles through many hands.

Are you spinning yet?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

An Ill Wrought Plan..How come?

Randolph Rd. at Sharon Amity
Cotswold Shopping Center
Charlotte, NC
February 3, 2015
This is a pickle. This could be the start or continuance or a future look at how informed we are, how thorough our City Council is, and how involved we want to be, how attentive we are, myself included. This in my opinion is a disaster and a BIG one. Cotswold. See the elementary school. See Chic-Fil-A where a line forms every morning during height of traffic and every lunch time and every dinner time blocking traffic that includes one the busiest intersections in Charlotte DOT...closer to Randolph on the right coming from that intersection is Cotswold Shopping Center and at the edge a big Harris Teeter. Now note the two way arrow and the stop light. That little half street is congested ALL THE TIME and when school is starting or ending it is at a standstill. Now see the block outlined in red PUBLIX...a Publix has been approved for that spot by our City Council and that building is coming down and the grocery store will consume the entire footprint and parking will be BELOW the store. This is sheer lunacy. And it is a done deal and there is nothing that can be done about it unless someone made a mistake on either side. And to my dismay City Council said they would keep an eye on the congestion. They would have to pitch a tent to keep an eye on it or, oh, no, they will be able to see it from a satellite. Is this what we can expect as we assume our position as the fastest growing city in the country? That we will consider and pass this egregious zoning that will effect that neighborhood and area for years to come at a great detriment. Shame! Shame! On the city council and us for not catching it. Let us be more wary now that we know no one is watching the store.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Food for thought, January 31, 2015

I remember hearing the interview with an economist just as it was evident that we as a country were in the slide to a great depression, now named The Great Recession. He remarked that he could see more people renting (this as the foreclosures swelled and seemed to be the harbinger of what was to unfold), because if a person lost their job, had a new job offer in hand somewhere else, yadda, yadda, they could just pick up and go.

And in a way that made sense except what about our perceived notion that real estate holdings can yield personal wealth  and more?( I thought at the time, ”Well that makes sense to the investor who can have someone else pay for the investment even considering that the capitol built the place and maybe that was risky, okay it is/was risky but certain risks can also be tax breaks) So here come the Millennia's who it is reported do not leap to buy cars, run to purchase homes and condos, prefer walking, bicycling, sharing rides, well, yes, even sharing apartments, renting out a room in their apartment, being big buyers in consignment shops. Yeah! ( I am no stranger to GW.)
So as Charlotte, N.C. is poised to host thousands and thousands and thousands of renters, who have no investment in the city, have no need for maintenance and repair and remodel, can just pick up and leave at any time that suits their plans, this sounds pretty attractive. But what about those of us who bought into home and hearth? Paint and planting pansies? Maintaining the streets, the public areas, the schools (though we don't do this well, nor do we take care of our teachers)

Charlotte is on the brink of being the Queen City of Apartments.
Why should this concern us as brokers? We help folks buy and sell. What should we care?

Let's listen to all the developers and builders with their charts and graphs and projections and not even look at our own infrastructure. Seem silly? That is what I feel we are doing. I am going off here on maybe a deep end, but I feel that the people tending the store have Gone Fishing.

My gut tells me we indeed are entering a phase that will be akin to the frog in water. By the time we think we should jump out it will be too late. Money is not bad, only in the hands of those who have nothing else but money and power and that is addictive. They want it all. You know, someone is off track when they say, “Now I can have it all.” And because you have been there and came to your senses through a rude awakening or a wiser voice, you got out and realize “Less is more.”

Maybe it is about stuff. All the stuff we gather and collect and buy for ourselves, maybe others. Our economy is based on consumer spending. Hello! And why do we do that? Because we can. Many can.

to be continued


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Look What We Found!

The Real Estate Lady®
with Condo Cando ®
Just When Charlotte Needs a Super Hero!
January 28, 2015
 We know you know we know to be on the lookout for a map plotting/ showing where the many apartment buildings, new or near new are in Charlotte, NC, our hometown. And where are the ones that have been announced or proposed? No luck in the government hallways so far but look what we found by asking the erstwhile Google. Fantastic...Thanks to The Charlotte Observer. This will be a great start to the project and what a good, no, make that great start.
Why is this important?
and can we trust this scenario?
Haven't we seen the builders and developers in Charlotte and coming from other states,  and countries all jump aboard ship many years ago right on the cusp of The Great Recession?Had they all been started Charlotte would look like Planet of the Apes. Is it enough the say Charlotte is the fastest growing city in the country and is that a reason to be pompous enough the believe everyone is finding their way here. Like being on their way right now?
I allude the naysayer tag, but my intuition has been throwing down the red flag for months. We have some more info to post soon on the subject of too many too soon.
Lynnsy and Condo Cando®

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Anachronism of Real Estate

January 26, 2015
There is a place I go to explore time, to examine the minutes and lay them out, walk up a hill and look down to see what direction they point to or from side to side to determine if I am seeing the future or looking at the past.
Out of the city, out of my sequestered small neighborhood, driving down a two lane road, the back way to other two lane roads, the fog is thick now and it starts raining. I could be in the sky or in the ocean. I feel I am close to the runway. Another hour, I will have finished all the turns and be set to take off.
 The road narrows a bit. There are no other cars. The fog is very, very light, like a portrait filter.  This is the past and the future. This is the country. Small houses or large, with barns or garages  or a tin roof to protect a car or truck. Single mobile homes with scattered yard furnishings, a gas station with flickering lights and space. The branches and bodies and crowns and bareness of old trees catch my breath and spin me away out there beyond the windshield. The world has a light gossamer shield, the world is still and I recall this road.
But it has changed. And I am surprised. This is a country road and there are farms around, and homes of workers who tend the fields and fix the tractors and herd the cows and gather eggs and feed the horses and built the fences and work in the small towns up and down the road and out past the Interstate and now, some are vacant. The old gas station where stone and wood were stacked for sale is vacant, gone. The Great Recession smashed them down and I do not think they will come back because the only thing holding them together were the people. The people and their families and their friends and their communities and their work, their jobs. They are gone and I do not think or feel they will come back. I had not expected to see this. I thought this road, the symbols on this road were basic, were somehow eternal, the heart of country even though it changed, even though the tide came and went, this was the heartland.
And in the city, where I live and work, I feel an imbalance as well. All is not as it seems. Higher priced homes are selling, and the prices increase because demand is there and loans are attainable. Mid-priced homes and entry level, not so much. There is a lot of glitter and the money changers are present. Times are changing fast and we must be careful what we ask for.