We plant seeds, pull weeds, feel the rain on our face…its Sunday.
I worked late last week. Sifting through interviews, reading all the articles I have gathered over the last two or three years about condominiums, studied the attached housing comps on MLS. Where are they heading?
Will the surge in the acquisition of apartment complexes somehow converge with the condo market in the future? Will condos fall back as they have in the past and become the ugly ducklings? During one of the very first interviews with a friend who is a noted real estate consultant, I spoke of the direction of the condo market, how it was hard for me to see. My goal is always to stay ahead of the curve, but now, I am not so sure. He said maybe I was looking in the wrong direction. Maybe. I continue asking questions, making the calls, reading the journals, the papers, and look at the numbers.
And it was another friend, a competent and highly regarded developer, who mused as he was reflecting about the past two years and looking at the months and years ahead, said, “This might be a good thing.” My instincts have said that, “This might be a good thing.” I just needed to hear that as I searched for words which ring true.
I will move forward as I separate what I know about condominiums into many folders. The course may change, up or down. The path may widen or narrow. I am sure there are times when I will feel frustration again. And then I recall when Condo CanDo was first getting started. I had to go to the Register of Deeds and buy the tax map books and go page by page to identify the footprints of buildingsthat I thought were condos. The streets of condominium complexes were mostly private so they were not on the city maps. And there was no database, no list of names. I have started on this path before and learned to love all the nuances. I am looking forward to my journey. It will be a good one.
I have a plan. The plan is about condominiums, of course. You see, and probably know by now, I have a serious relationship with condominiums, attached housing, condos. It started when the interest rates were very high, the builders had overbuilt, the market went south and condo owners, who wanted to sell, couldn’t. It was a tough market. That was in the early 80’s about the same time I got my real estate license and became a rookie at a small office in Mint Hill. By now you know the story: I asked the Universe for help, I asked for a way to survive in a poor market as a new agent, I sought guidance. And through the Ethernet came the words “Condo CanDo®”. I said, “Oh, no, they are too hard”, just like every other agent. A gift is a gift and I finally said, “Okay, I’ll do it.” And I did, for over 26 years as a real estate broker and almost as many as Condo CanDo® . The special name, like The Real Estate Lady®, is a registered Service Mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Condo CanDo® is official and has been for a long time.
Now to Condominiums. Condominiums have a very long history. Think pueblo, imagine caves, think a tented village around campfires, high density, community, and how about security, shared responsibilities, intergenerational, and maybe even, less stuff and more living. There is a mountain in South World,haRhoKe, that is riddled with caves hone by hand, a multitude of home sites joined by the earth, connected by stone, and hidden from all below the sky. Is it peaceful? Probably most of the time unless the sounds of babies crying in the early morning make you grumpy or the wail of a woman becoming a new Mother brings tears of joy, or the laughter of children playing in the courtyard or the old man who sings to wolves get on your nerves, it becomes a cacophony of sounds you become accustomed to, noises that beat with your own heart, echoes of past and future that if not there, you would miss. Condominiums present that one scenario. Come to the 21st century. You may not think this today, this very moment, but condominium living could be the very answer to many of the ills we see and the troubles we are as yet unaware. I want to look at the positive side. First, location. In Charlotte, NC, the locations run from the heart of town to the outskirts, almost rural destinations. Location has always been a key component, location invites a walk to shopping, dining, sports activities, businesses, and in some cases, work. Think Uptown. So we know the old adage bears fruit: Location. Location. Location.
Conveniences and Amenities Condos are often accessible to adjoining neighborhoods or sections and districts. Myers Park in Charlotte comes to mind where our grand old oaks provide a luxurious canopy for one bedroom condos to high rise penthouses with the best skyline views of our city. Fourth Ward, an historic district in Uptown, lays claim totownhouse-condos complete with garages, a new sparkling high rise with a pool on the rooftop, and the older versions: a handsome converted apartment building reminiscent of New York, a historical beauty with rich old oak floors and large windows for watching the passersby. In Mint Hill and Matthews,suburbs and old villages close-by Charlotte, bona fide communities for 55+ still spring up. And the older communities where most of the units are gardens, built in the late 70’s and have become as the government notes NORC, Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities. Condo CanDo® has studied each one, taken pictures of each one, and been in and out of most of the almost one thousand condominium communities in Mecklenburg County including those at the Lake. If you play tennis or would like to, those tennis courts out the back door look pretty inviting. The pool either in the back or front or on top is such a gift for those of us who love the swim. Then there’s the clubhouse for gatherings and parties, the surrounding green space for dog walking or reading or just plain sitting and staring into space. Someone else cuts the grass, tends the leaves, someone else power washes the exterior and washes the windows, less need for a house sitter when you travel ,less expenses towards energy bills, and simply more time for living. As a whole, the concept of condominium living is pretty darn attractive. Condos are a communal way of living, apart and together, within a shared edifice, and perhaps one that is energy efficient, well-built, and could last a long time. Shared responsibility means taking care of picking up after the dog, knowing the documents that govern the community, joining in with others to make your collective home safe,healthy, pretty, well-maintained, and communicating with the other folk who picked this location, this place and their space much as you did or have or might.
Sound good so far? Sound reasonable? Very Condo CanDo®?
In Charlotte, North Carolina we are cautious about March. You see, we can be picking daffodils one day and shoveling snow the next. We learn there is wisdom in enjoying and in restraining our enthusiasm. And so it also goes with the audible heartbeat of a spring real estate market. A sound and a flutter, once familiar to our eyes and ears, just in hiding these last few years. How long will it now last? I am happy to be out in it after my years of illness. I am grateful to be making appointments to see property, talk to clients, and to explore the different levels of our real estate world, particularly for condominiums.The words and the processes of foreclosure and short sales become a part of our language. The term “underwater” rings a note of hopelessness. Not unless you walk away. Walk away from the place you called home. And there are investors who got hit as well. The Bubble came with a force we have not seen. The bubble came with the thrust and smash of a tsunami. Not as many lives were lost in the swirl, but lives were crushed or changed or injured. These years are called the Great Recession. As I pull myself up and out, regain some weight and rebuild my own strength, as I plan where I will go and what I will do as both The Real Estate Lady and Condo CanDo, the thought that sticks to my mind and ribs is will we forget easily? Will we, because we are human, continue our long legacy of short memory?
Condo CanDo will be on patrol, asking questions and looking for thechallenges.