Throwing a launch party is one of the many cool things about coming to work for Go Realty - every on-boarding agent hosts one, and we get to invite all of our friends, family, clients, and coworkers to celebrate our new venture. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a launch party with Tim Miller, a colleague from our days with The Janni Group before we made the move to Go. We thought, "What's the coolest idea we can think of?" and we hit on having a food truck - specifically, American Meltdown - come out to our office in Holly Springs. It was a family affair, with activities for the kids and a keg for the adults, along with some pretty amazing sandwiches (the "Beer and Bacon" and the "Patty Melt" were particularly popular). You can find American Meltdown all over the Triangle, often at the Fullsteam Brewery in Durham among other locations, but now you know you can also have them come to you - it's a delicious and hassle-free way to throw a rockin' party! Thanks, Paul and Alycia, for making our day so memorable!
It just so happens that this is the week of Thanksgiving, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who came out on Sunday and helped us celebrate. It meant the world to me to have you all there, and I hope you enjoyed the day as much as I did. Happy Thanksgiving!
I hate to run.
As a pre-teen, I was actually on my high school's track team - it was the first year they were fielding a team, so they were desperate and allowed middle school students to compete. I ran hurdles - because our team was so young, we didn't have a full set, so we practiced by running and jumping over one hurdle and rebounding off a brick wall; then we'd back up and repeat it over and over. The first time I ever saw a full set of ten hurdles was in my first race. Needless to say, I didn't do very well. At one meet, we were short a runner for the mile, and because it was a small meet anyone who ran was guaranteed to place and earn points for the team; the coach decided I was up to the task. I managed to finish, but I was still winded 30 minutes later when it was time for my own event. 28 years later, I can still remember my time for the mile - and it is still, pitifully, my personal best - 8:24.
Despite all of that, tomorrow I will be waking up at dawn and participating in a fun run, and I'm going to try and run the whole way. It's supposed to be cold, and they say it's going to rain, but my family will be there nonetheless. The race is the Triangle Day School Twister Trot, formerly called Marcy's Run in honor of Marcy Speer, a wife, mother, and world-renowned geneticist at Duke University who sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2006. In the years since, the TDS community has had many other families affected by cancer, and now the race is run to honor all those families who have had their lives touched by the disease.
This year, the Twister Trot has partnered with Be the Match, a national marrow donor program that connects patients with their donor match for a life-saving marrow or umbilical cord blood transplant. Be the Match will be at the race to swab cheeks and help any individual register to be a bone marrow donor.
I hate to run, that's true. But cancer? I hate that more.
This week, we had the annual Homeowners' Association meeting for my neighborhood. It was a very uneventful and (blissfully) short affair, but in my experience that is not usually the case! HOAs are something many people feel very strongly about - they love them, hate them, or think of them as a necessary evil. I've had buyers refuse to look at homes that have an HOA of any sort, and I've had others who are partial to a very active one. I live in Cary - the land of the planned unit development where HOAs are the norm, not the exception - and each one I've encountered has been unique with its own little quirks.
Here are a few of the commonly heard Pros and Cons of HOAs:
Pros: Maintains and pays for upkeep of common elements and amenities; in some communities, takes care of lawn, grounds, and exterior maintenance of individual residences; mediates disputes between residents; helps coordinate community events like holiday gatherings or block parties; and helps maintain or raise property values by regulating certain behaviors within the neighborhood.
Cons: The perception that "Big Brother" is watching and policing your every move; the HOA can regulate and even prohibit the leasing of your property; dues are an added expense many would prefer to avoid - and they can increase over time without much warning; if an HOA uses a management company to enforce its rules and regulations, some feel this is giving up too much control to people who do not have a vested interest in the community.
Whatever your preference, it is important to be informed! An HOA can determine whether you can put a For Sale or For Lease sign in your yard - definitely helpful if you are planning to sell your home - and sometimes, the HOA can prohibit leasing your property altogether, which is of vital interest to an investor. As a buyer, you will want to know if you are allowed to park your boat or RV in the driveway, or what type of fence you'll be permitted to use in your yard, and even whether or not your new home will allow your pet to move in with you.
As a Realtor, it's my job to make sure that my clients understand the role of the HOA in their community, whether they are buying or selling a home. In NC, sellers are required to disclose certain information about the home's HOA to prospective buyers - this includes contact info for the HOA management, dues and assessments, included amenities, what dues and fees cover, and restrictions imposed by the HOA . If buyers do not receive the necessary disclosures in a timely manner, they can (under certain conditions) even cancel the contract to purchase the home. Learn the facts about your HOA - then, you can be confident that whichever home you choose will be the right one!
The American Tobacco Trail is a 22+ mile long rails-to-trails project stretching from downtown Durham to New Hill in Wake County. It is awesome - and it's one of my dog Ruby's favorite things! For more detailed information about the ATT, click here!
We all have them - those things we love despite (or maybe because of) the fact that others might find them silly or foolish or a waste of time. I'm talking about guilty pleasures of the benign variety.
My personal weakness? A night at the movies! Forget Calgon - nothing takes me away like sitting in a darkened theater, eating popcorn and candy for dinner, and becoming engrossed in someone else's story for a few hours. I'll see just about anything - I'm not a fan of horror films and supernatural scare fests, but anything else is fair game. I enjoy art films and high-brow dramas, but I've paid full price for a Jean Claude Van Damme film, too. When I lived in NYC for a summer with no air conditioning, I even went to see Flipper in a blissfully cool theater - and I was in my 20s!
I love to go to the movies with friends, but I also love going alone - no one's there to judge my choice of movie or the fact that I've deemed Sour Patch Kids a suitable main course! And when I'm feeling a little too stressed out it's nice to just jump in the car and go, regardless of whether anyone else is free. I'm very fortunate to have a husband who understands me and who indulges my hobby, especially since it means he has to deal with the kids on his own for the night - he might laugh when I tell him I just had to get away to watch Thor on the big screen, but he gets it.
Now that I think about it, I don't know why we call these things we like to do "guilty pleasures." We like what we like - and there's no reason at all to feel guilty about it!
In my work as a realtor, I get to see into the lives of people by visiting their homes. It's fascinating to see some of the choices people make with their homes - some good, some bad, and some -- well, you know! I've seen homes so immaculate I can't believe anyone actually lives there, and I've been in others where the homeowners left dirty dishes all over the kitchen counter and I'm very grateful they didn't ask us to remove our shoes.
Today, while showing homes, I came across two that already had their Christmas trees up and decorated, one complete with wrapped presents underneath. Today is November 14th - it's still two weeks until Thanksgiving. Personally, I still have three rotting jack-o-lanterns on my front porch (we always come into our house through the garage and I forget they're there until someone rings the doorbell); I can't imagine when I'll get around to throwing them away, much less when I'll manage to drag the bins of holiday decorations out of the attic. Usually we do the tree over Thanksgiving weekend; any earlier in the season just seems strange to me. My kids, on the other hand, would be happy if we left the house decorated all year and have been asking for weeks when Holly (our Elf on the Shelf) will be coming back, so I know there are all kinds of opinions on this subject. What's yours?
I spend a lot of my time in the car. I live in Cary, my office is in Holly Springs, my kids go to school in Durham, and my clients are everywhere. Since last August, I've put 40,000 miles on my car - thank goodness for satellite radio!
Today, though, I was able to get from school to the office in under 30 minutes by taking a combination of 147 (also called the Durham Freeway or Triangle Parkway) and my personal favorite, 540. Out by my house, 540 changes from an interstate (I-540) to NC 540, a toll road, and folks here either love it or hate it. It may not be fair that we have to pay the tolls for a road that the northern part of Wake County gets to use for free, but on the other hand, the tolls mean there is literally NO traffic! A few weeks ago, I came to a dead stop in the middle of the highway because a flock of geese was crossing in front of me - by the time I was able to get moving again, probably 45 seconds later, not a single car had come up behind me, and this was in the middle of the afternoon. I'm sure that once 540 completes its loop all the way around Raleigh the traffic out my way will increase, but for now, I'm enjoying the fact that I know exactly how long my commute will take - even if it costs me an extra dollar or two, the time and gas saved is worth it to me.
**The last section of NC 540, running through southeastern Wake County, is still in the planning stages and the route it will take still has not been finalized. The most current info about its development can be found here --Complete 540 Project.
If you have or know kids in the 5-12 age range, chances are you know all about the Rainbow Loom. If not, it's a small plastic pegboard on which you weave tiny rubber bands into bracelets and other jewelry. My daughters (ages 6 and 9) have been begging me for one of these for ages, but we have a policy in our house of not buying new toys unless we donate old ones first - if the kids want to use their own money to buy something that's okay, but their dad and I aren't ponying up the cash. (And yes, we parents sometimes break the rules, but that's a whole other blog post...)
A couple of weeks ago, I'd had enough of the constant begging, so I made a deal with the kids - I would get them a Rainbow Loom if they would sort through all their toys and donate half their stuffed animals and at least two bins of other toys. I'm more than a little embarrassed about the quantity of things they have and how little they seem to value them (unless, of course, said things are being taken away), so we go through these purges every year before birthdays and Christmas; somehow, though, the stuff keeps accumulating. This time - to my surprise - the girls eagerly agreed, and amazingly enough they followed through with little to no whining; they did want to hug each stuffed animal and say goodbye, but they made their choices and filled the bins. As a bonus, we ended up with a clean playroom - a great day in our house!
Off we went on our quest to find the elusive Rainbow Loom - four stores and 30 miles later, we finally had it in hand. The girls played happily with it while we waited 45 minutes for a table in a restaurant, while at the table, and even in the car. They were obsessed, but they were happy, quiet, and playing together without arguing - this toy is awesome!!!
The next day, some of their best friends came over, and all four played with the loom again for hours. They set up a table outside at the end of the driveway to sell their homemade jewelry. All on their own, the kids decided to donate half of the proceeds to the SPCA. This isn't the first time they've done something like that - they've baked cookies and sold lemonade and given half the profits to animal causes before - but this time, it was unprompted by their parents. I don't know if the lessons we've tried to teach have taken root and become "the way things are," or if they just figured out it's a great business move - customers are much more likely to pay top dollar if some of the money goes to charity! Whatever their motivations, it was nice to see them all voluntarily doing something to benefit others. And this weekend, we made the trek to the SPCA of Wake County where the kids handed over their $15.50 and visited with some of the animals available for adoption. There were a few tears because their dad and I refused to adopt a new pet rabbit, but all in all, it was a fun, rewarding afternoon.
We do what we can to guide our children in the ways we would like them to live, but in the end, it's up to them what path they choose. This time, they chose to give back. Today was a good day.
It's a few weeks until Thanksgiving, but the Holiday Season is already starting in many area theaters. I'm (naturally) a huge theater buff, and I'm lucky that the man I married and my kids share my love of all things theatrical, so we have tickets to see several of the area's offerings already - I'm sure we'll be adding a few more to our schedule as we get closer to the holidays. In the immortal words of Buddy the Elf, "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!"
Elf the Musical - November 12-17 at Broadway Memorial Auditorium. This is a musical version of the popular Will Ferrell/James Caan movie and is presented by North Carolina Theatre, a local professional theatre company that also runs its own theatre training program for kids. According to Variety, "ELF is happy enough for families, savvy enough for city kids and plenty smart for adults!"
How the Grinch Stole Christmas - December 3-8 at DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center). This is also an adaptation of a popular movie. According to Gannett Papers, this Grinch is, "A Genius of a show! A total delight for both kids and adults! For a family on a holiday-season outing, it's the right ticket."
Cinderella - December 6-21, presented by the Raleigh Little Theater. This year is its 30th Anniversary Production - a local classic!
A Christmas Carol - Dec. 12-15 at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, and Dec. 19-22 at DPAC. This is another local classic presented by Theatre in the Park and starring Ira David Wood III.
A Christmas Story - Nov. 30-Dec. 3 presented by the Cary Players. Yet another adaptation of a popular film (there's a definite trend here...), fans will know this one features the famous leg lamp and the refrain of, "You'll shoot your eye out!"
The Nutcracker - Dec. 7-29 presented by Carolina Ballet. This production features what it calls "jaw-dropping magic" with over 100 performers and fantastic illusions.
These are only a few of the local offerings - if you have another favorite, I'd love to hear about it! Hope to see you in the audience this season - and I hope to hear you singing loudly, too!
My first career was one many would consider glamorous. I was a professional actress, living in NYC, touring and performing across the country - I made it to all 50 states and even performed on Broadway. I loved it, and I wouldn't trade those years for anything, but what most people don't know is that there was a heck of a lot of not-so-glamorous work going on behind the scenes. My fellow performers and I spent lots of long days traveling in less than ideal conditions; my personal favorite was an unheated tour bus going from Fargo, ND to Winnipeg -- in January -- in -40* weather! At the end of the day, though, what mattered was the experience we were creating for an audience - the folks in the seats didn't know, or care, how our days had been; they wanted to be entertained, to be taken out of themselves for a couple of hours, and to enjoy the story we were telling. And that's how it should be, I think.
For me, real estate is a lot like that. It is about creating an experience for my clients - I want them to be able to focus on the exciting, fun aspects of buying or selling a house, while I take care of all the things that happen behind the scenes to make it happen smoothly. There is a lot of emotion involved when someone is looking for a home or leaving one behind, but if I'm doing my job well, what my clients will remember is the ease of the process. That's as good as any curtain call!
Oh - one of the (many) things I love about my new firm? We have our own show every month - in a way, it's like I never left the theater! Check it out...The Go Show!