Melanie Girard

Melanie Girard

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Quarry is My Church

My friend, Rachel, likes to swim as much as I do. This kindred spirit is rare to my world, so when I find someone who is game to swim, I’m in! She suggested the quarry at the Eno State Park in Durham, NC. I recently broke with my 6 year relationship and was feeling  blue and needed a change of activity. So, Rachel and my other long-time friend, Beth, decided we would go on Sunday for a girl’s dip in the man-made vernal pool.

The weather here in NC has been the rainiest I can remember and it’s tough to make outdoor plans with any certainty. It wasn't thundering nor lightning, so we geared up with walking shoes, suits and anything that would float, as you need something to give you a break. We walked in the rain for about a mile down the trail and realized we missed our turn. We trudged up and down trails with rocks, mud and and tree roots covered by the wet canopy of trees that is quintessential NC forest, with old hardwoods of every variety. The trail was messy, but overall easily traversed.

Rachel led the way with tireless confidence holding her boogie board, I followed behind and Beth brought up the rear with an inner tube around her. Beth looked like a 3 year old, and when I looked back, I had to chuckle a few times. We finally got back on the right trail and walked the additional .8 mile trek with the rain just pouring. Each of proclaiming that it looked like the rain was gonna break any moment. It didn't.  We've had so much rain over the last month, that when we had to cross the normally low creek, we all paused a moment to figure out the best way to cross the rocky, fully flowing obstacle....without of course falling down and having an old-lady moment. We made it and there was the quarry! There is a trail around the quarry with multiple “drop in” areas. We had to assess the best option as none of us are 20 years old anymore and we certainly didn’t want to fall into the quarry with clumsiness of Homer Simpson. Yeah, picture it.

Rachel carefully got down the little rocky bank and dove in. I was next and sat on a rock half way in the water and finally plunged in. Here comes Beth with her inner tube. I looked back to make sure she was ok and she jumped in like a little kid jumping to her mother at the pool. Kind of a belly flop and labrador retriever technique. I laughed till I cried and will never get that image out of my head.

The water is dark and very deep. If someone goes under, there would not be a likelihood of saving anyone. There is no gradual entry to the quarry. You must be a good swimmer and bring a float for safety. At that moment, the rain stopped and mother nature smiled upon our adventure. The water was the perfect temperature and for me, that environment was when I was at my most peaceful and confident. I decided that day that the quarry was my church and I wanted to go every Sunday that I could, weather permitting.

We bobbed, flipped, swam and floated with intermittent stories, laughter, melancholy and silence. I love my friends and this was a beautiful, shared time that I hope everyone could have the pleasure of experiencing.  After a couple of hours of water time, we decided to attempt getting out and up the bank to walk the .8 mile trail back to the car. As we got out, the rain started again, and we all laughed and marveled that our timing was perfect. The company was perfect. Everything was perfect and I will cherish that time forever. I hope if you ever get the opportunity to go to the quarry, that you will heed the danger warnings, prepare and take in the turtles, toads, rocky banks and and the pool of life. It’s more than worth it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Let me start by saying I'm a realtor, so house hunting is a bit of a habit for me. A habit that I'm addicted to. It doesn't really matter if I have clients or not. I like to see what's new on the market in the three counties that are my market on a daily, sometimes bi-daily basis. What if I find the most perfect house or farm for that client I never hear from, I think to myself. Perhaps I will stir their interest again and maybe they will buy something. You have to be an optimist and a gambler to be in real estate. I realize I might have a problem with the both of these traits.

I'm an optimist firstly. And I live by the “every no brings you closer to a yes” sales philosophy. Really? Well,maybe. I will always return a call the day I get it, if it involves real estate. Well, you never know what that call could turn in to? There is always potential, but in actuality a small percentage of calls/leads leads to cold, hard cash in my account. But that's ok, when I do get paid, and clients are happy, I realize this job is a good fit for me.

Over the last couple of years, I perused Craigslist for other housing options. I currently rent. Seems odd that a realtor would rent, but here's why. I have owned houses when I was married and they take a lot of work. If you aren't handy and neither is your partner, you better have some money to throw at service people to do it for you. When I got unmarried, I rented a small house in Pittsboro. It suited my needs and was very energy efficient. I have two kids and thought I would only be here for a couple of years. Now I'm looking at 6+ years and wonder where the time went. Real estate turned it's back on all of us for several years, so buying another house was not an option for me. The bright side was that I had a great landlord, great house, great location and great rent. Why would I trade it? Especially as I see my cohorts (realtors) putting their houses on the market.

Then I think about the only way my generation is going to have retirement is through real estate investments or money from rich relatives. So, I feel I should buy a house. That's what I am supposed to do, right? Well, maybe not. Do I plan to be in the area forever? Maybe not. What if I want to move in the next 6 years? That's not a whole lot of time to make money on real estate....not anymore.

So, in my fence-sitting time, I decided to clean out my house. I got rid of clothes that I haven't worn in several years. Let's face it, I don't look good in the clothes I bought a decade ago, no matter how many laps I swim. I cleaned out closets and drawers, put new liners in them and basically got rid of everything I don't, won't and haven't used. I'm tired of fooling myself into thinking my life will change in such a way that having 3 differently sized melon-ballers or several platters that service parties of 15-20 people will be worth storing or moving them. You're welcome thrift store. I cleaned things in my house you only clean when moving into or out of a house. Good times and thank you Vodka. I want to be light on my feet in case the perfect living situation comes around. A clean soul not hampered by material things (or at least not as many material things.)

So the questions remains..should I stay or should I go? I'm going to wait it out. I'm tired of feeling like the right thing is what society wants me to do. Or even my industry. Real estate is a good investment if you have money, time, skills and patience to recover your outlay. When you start really thinking about buying, clean out everything and be realistic as to what you are “housing.” Don't just buy a giant storage unit with heat and air for you and your stuff to live in. There's plenty of people who will buy your crap and good organizations thrive on your donations.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wall Street Journal Article

Sometimes I like to pass along articles that I come across.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What Lenders Can Learn from Habitat for Humanity

We are very fortunate in Chatham County to have a strong, participatory Habitat for Humanity Program.  We have two thriving re-sale stores and a generous community that donates to those stores. I personally love to shop there!

Check out this national article:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How to Make An Offer

How To Make An Offer that Will Be Accepted

by The KCM Crew on May 31, 2011 · 5 comments
You have finally found the house of your dreams. It is priced right and is receiving a lot of attention from other buyers. You don’t want to miss this opportunity so you are ready to put in an offer with the real estate agent immediately. What can you do to guarantee your offer is the one accepted? Financially, offers can be broken down into three categories:

1.) An All-Cash Offer

Obviously, a cash purchaser is always favored by any seller. In today’s real estate market, an all-cash offer is even more enticing. Last month, one in four real estate transactions were impacted by a low appraisal. An all-cash buyer eliminates the need for the bank appraisal.

2.) A Non-Contingency Offer

If you don’t have the cash reserves for an all-cash purchase, the next best thing would be to make a non-contingency offer. To do this you should be already pre-approved for a mortgage and have your current house already in contract. This gives the seller the confidence that you are already a qualified buyer who will be able to complete the purchase.

3.) A Contingency Offer

Some buyers start the process of looking for a new home before their current home is sold. This could be a big mistake. If you find the home you were hoping for (perfect for your family AND priced right), it will be very difficult to get your offer accepted because you are not actually qualified to buy.
Asking a seller to wait for your home to sell is somewhat unreasonable in today’s environment. One of the reasons you would want the home is because the seller priced the home at a value to sell it NOW. They want to know it is sold when they accept an offer. They normally will not even entertain a contingency offer.

Bottom Line

Unless you have the ability to purchase with cash, the best thing to do is to be pre-approved for a mortgage and have your current house already in contract before looking for the home of your dreams. That guarantees you will get the home you love at a price that makes sense.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Shadow Inventory

Last week, we reported on the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Economists’ Outlook and gave you a map showing the percentage of overall sales that distressed properties represented in each state. Today we want to show you another map from the same NAR outlook. This one shows the number of months shadow inventory by state:
NAR explained their methodology:
The map shows the number of months it would take to clear the shadow inventory by state. The months’ supply is estimated by dividing the shadow inventory and the monthly number of distressed sales. The numbers range broadly from 51 months in New Jersey to 7 months in Nevada. When looking at months’ supply it is important to keep in mind that this estimate highly depends on saturation of distressed sales. Given that New Jersey over the past year on average reported about 20 percent of existing home sales to be distressed sales, it will take a longer period for the shadow inventory to clear. In contrast, Nevada’s distressed sales averaged a considerable 70 percent share of the existing sales and at that rate the current shadow inventory would clear in 7 months.