How To Live Like A “REAL” Charlottean

According to Business Journals, every 17 minutes someone NEW moves to the Charlotte area. Moving to a new town can be stressful when you don’t know lay of the land or the culture.  To keep you from feeling like a fish out of water and to show you that we do still have a little Southern Hospitality left, we are happy to share some of our knowledge that will make you one of us very quickly.

Charlotte was named after Queen Charlotte, wife of King George, III. You know the King George that we sent a little document called the Declaration of Independence to in 1776.  Did you know that on May 20, 1775, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was signed, making Mecklenburg County the first in the 13 colonies to declare independence from Great Britain. Unfortunately, there isn’t conclusive evidence to the original documents existing and information about said declaration  wasn’t really published until 1819. However, we stand behind the story and there is a plaque to prove it. So there!

Charlotte is comprised of several different neighborhoods which have a history all their own. When referring to a specific area of town, you must refer to the closet neighborhood; otherwise we will definitely know you are not from around here. The main neighborhoods you need to know are:

  • Arboretum  – The shopping center, not where we grow trees.
  • Ballantyne/Piper Glen – Where only a few can afford to live.
  • Plaza-Midwood – East of Uptown.
  • NoDa – Where you find the art.
  • Cotswold – Where your doctor’s office is probably located.
  • Dilworth – South of Uptown.
  • Elizabeth – Where WE are located!!
  • Historic South End  – Where you tailgate for Panther games.
  • Myers Park – Where we really did grow the trees.
  • University City – Close to UNCC.
  • Quail Hollow – Where “The Tournament” is played and if you just asked which one, then bless your heart.
  • Southpark – Where Neiman Marcus is located.
  • Lake Norman - Duh!  It’s a lake.
  • Uptown/Center City  – Where the large buildings are but a stern warning:  You may refer to Center City as Uptown but never and I mean never call Uptown, downtown. We will roll our eyes at you, again.

Despite the fact that there is a CVS, Harris Teeter and a Starbucks located on almost every street corner of the city and the outer areas, we will never walk to them. We love our cars and it will be faster if we drive anyway.  You should also know that all lanes must be clear before a native will  make any turn into traffic and when approaching a stoplight, remember the following rule: Red = STOP; Green = GO and Yellow = FLOOR IT!!

If you plan on purchasing season tickets to Carowinds for the family this year, know that adult Charlotteans only go twice a year. Once in the spring when it opens and once in the fall before it closes for the season. The children on the other hand will spend every week there because the family pass is usually purchased as a babysitter for boys ages 10 and up while their parents work in the summer months.

In the event of snow (doesn’t matter how much) we will raid the grocery stores of bread and toilet paper and then will lock ourselves inside our homes until it is all gone.  Schools will remain closed until they are good and ready to go back and declare “rural areas” too slick for buses despite the fact that the street in front of you is clear and it’s 50 degrees outside.

Charlotte has four seasons. Humid, very humid, insanely humid and Christmas. Also, it is not unusual to decorate your house for Christmas in your cool weather uniform. College sweatshirt, cargo shorts/athletic shorts and flip-flops.

Speaking of Christmas, don’t go near the mall during the yuletide season. You will never get a parking place. Best to shop in August during all the clearance sales or buy online.

On New Year’s Eve, you must eat the following, no questions asked: Black-eyed peas, Collard Greens (with vinegar) and Corn Bread. Don’t eat them and see what happens. I dare you!

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Recently a Florida teen dropped to one knee during his graduation ceremony, Tebow style.  For his apparent disrespectful gesture, he was punished with cleaning the gym and denied his diploma until the task was done.  It turns out that he was the son of a teacher at the school and Mom was not pleased.  In fact, it turns out it wasn’t the administration that gave the punishment or even truly denied him his diploma.  It was (gasp) Mom who determined his punishment after she collected his diploma.  She wanted to teach her child a lesson in respect, which I can understand.  If this teacher’s kid can get away with what he did, then an underclassman will think that they can get away with something even better next year.  But did the teen really learn respect?  If Mom had just let it go and just let him get his diploma, they would have just had the awkward ride home like any other parent and it would have remained a family matter.  Because his mother used her position as a teacher to help punish her child, this has made national news and the simple battle of right and wrong will most certainly get lost in the debates and opinions of others that are sure to follow.  Where is the lesson now?

Last year, a Myers Park graduate dropped his pants during his walk across the stage.  When he bent over to pick up his pants, the Velcro in the back of his gown tore away and revealed his was wearing polka-dot boxer shorts.  Funny, oh yes!  Was it disrespectful, oh yes!  Much like the story above, this student decided to do something “memorable” during his graduation walk and armed with his skills in the theater arts, he made a lasting impression.  In the days that followed, the story was written and debated.  If you were a supporter that the prank was harmless and funny, then the school administration were the bad guys especially after they banned him for life from CMS school property.  But if you thought the school was right in its punishment then you saw this student as a disrespectful person who was looking for trouble, which if you knew this kid, is far from the truth.  My only thought was to the person who had to graduate behind him.  While everyone was laughing, did anyone hear the next person’s name?  Why did they have to sacrifice a moment of their time in the spotlight for a few laughs?  Also, in the end this graduate was able to get his diploma and the lifelong ban from CMS was reduced to one year.  Again, where was the lesson?

Today’s news involves a teacher at North Rowan High School, who teaches Social Studies.  She was recorded (which was later posted on YouTube) arguing with a student that any negative remarks said about our current President was a criminal act.  It started during a discussion about the news of the day regarding an accusation by someone that Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, bullied him while he was in prep school.  A student in this teacher’s class stated that President Obama had admitted in his own book that he had also bullied someone when he was younger.  The teacher accused the student of slander and being disrespectful to the President.   She also told the student that he could be arrested for negative remarks.  The student then pointed out his First Amendment right to express his opinion and that you couldn’t be arrested for your opinion unless you threaten the President.   The teacher chose a childish way to respond with the student that I thought resembled a three year old throwing a tantrum.  Had the teacher engaged her class in a bipartisan discussion rather than an abusive, unprofessional and disrespectful (on all sides) attack or at the very least, discussed the liberties afforded Americans under the First Amendment without retribution, the cell phone would have remained off and the video wouldn’t have gone viral. 

As a child of the Baby Boomer generation, I was taught to speak up about things I don’t like and to question authority especially when that authority was “above the law” or abusing their position.  It is how I am raising my children, but I know that there is a fine line between speaking your mind and being respectful.  It is one of the most challenging parts of being a parent today.  My kids are extremely curious and there is a world of information at their fingertips.  They know more than me!  It’s tough to find that balance.  So how can we teach our kids to be respectful?  The formula is simple and it isn’t new.  It’s implementing it and having the patience to enforce it that is the challenge.  

  • Model It!  You can’t get anything that you don’t give in the first place.  
  • Teach It!  Rather than punishing with some meaningless task, talk to your kids about some of the consequences they didn’t think about like say the girl whose name wasn’t heard during graduation because too many people were cheering for them.
  • Praise It!  Ever say thank you for making a good decision?  Don’t just expect it, reinforce them with positive remarks.  I don’t know a single soul on this planet that hates positive feedback.  It builds self-confidence.
  • Correct It!  Where is your line in the sand?  If your child crosses it, they should know.  Let them know when they are close to it too.  Children need to be taught what is OK and not OK and they will test that line all the time until they can figure it out for themselves.   

Feel The Need…The Need For Speed Street

If you work in the Uptown area, later this week you may want to allow for a little extra travel time because it is time for that annual tradition known as SPEED STREET! 

This year marks the 18th Anniversary for the 2012 Food Lion Speed Street festival, which over the years has become one of the largest festivals in the Southeast leading up to the Coca-Cola 600 which is (of course) this weekend.  Beginning at noon on Thursday, May 24, 2012 and concluding Saturday, May 26, 2012, the streets of Uptown Charlotte will be filled with music, exhibits, food, merchandise, activities and appearances by some of your favorite NASCAR drivers.   The best part of all, it’s FREE!!!!!!!! 

With the holiday weekend in view, definitely take part in this exciting Southern tradition and while you are at it, swing by the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  It’s a great interactive experience on how NASCAR became known as  “America’s fastest pastime. “

For more information about the 2012 Food Lion Speed Street events and activities, click here.

Be Prepared for Severe Weather

Knowing what to do in the event of severe weather is something that we should all think about on a sunny day and not when the skies begin to darken.  

 Before the storm:

  • Assemble a kit of essentials, like battery-operated flashlights and radios. Keep a list of emergency phone numbers that includes the electric utility. Be prepared for the possibility of a prolonged outage due to power line and electric equipment damage.
  • Fill spare containers with water for washing, and keep a supply of bottled drinking water on hand. Maintain a supply of non-perishable food items, along with a hand opener for canned food.
  • During an outage, switch off lights and appliances to prevent overloading circuits and damaging appliances when power is restored. Leave one lamp or switch on as a signal for when your power returns.
  • Be sure to tune into your local weather station if you suspect severe weather is brewing. Understand the National Weather Service warning classification system. A tornado or severe storm watch means that conditions are favorable for those weather conditions forming. A warning means that dangerous weather conditions are developing and imminent.
  • Consider having Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) professionally installed or purchasing a portable GFCI. GFCIs can cut off power if there is a problem and are recommended for outdoor outlets and areas of the home that are prone to water exposure such as basements, bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, etc.
  • Lightning can travel up to ten miles away from a storm, so seek shelter as soon as you hear thunder.

After the storm:

  • When venturing outside after a severe storm, stay away from downed power lines and be alert to the possibility that tree limbs or debris may hide an electrical hazard. Assume that any dangling wires you encounter are electrical, and treat all downed or hanging power lines as if they are energized. Warn others to stay away and contact the electric utility.
  • If you are driving and come upon a downed power line, stay in your vehicle, warn others to stay away and contact emergency personnel or electric utility. Also when driving, be careful at intersections where traffic lights may be out. Stop at all railroad crossings, and treat road intersections with traffic signals as a four-way stop before proceeding with caution.
  • Before re-entering storm-damaged buildings or rooms, be sure all electric and gas services are turned off. Never attempt to turn off power at the breaker box if you must stand in water to do so. If you can’t reach your breaker box safely, call your electric utility to shut off power at the meter.
  • Never step into a flooded basement or other area if water is covering electrical outlets, appliances or cords. Be alert to any electrical equipment that could be energized and in contact with water. Never touch electrical appliances, cords or wires while you are wet or standing in water.
  • Cleaning up and using water-damaged appliances also carry safety risks. Electric motors in appliances that have been drenched or submerged should be thoroughly cleaned and reconditioned before they are put back into service. It may be necessary to repair or replace electrical appliances or tools that have been in contact with water. Do not use any water-damaged appliance until a professional has checked it out.
  • When using a generator, follow all manufacturers’ recommendations to avoid tragedy. Keep the generator dry and never plug it into a wall outlet or directly into the home’s wiring. This could inadvertently energize the utility lines and injure yourself or others working to restore power.

(Source: Safeelectricity.org)

Useful Reviews

How useful are online reviews to you?  That is the question that we seem to be asking ourselves today. The internet and social media go virtually hand in hand.     Type in any subject and you will find several websites that pertain to it.  Anyone can say anything without anything to back it up and we take it at face value.  So, how useful are online reviews to you?

If I am planning a vacation, where I lay my head is VERY important to me since I require an overly clean and comfortable room with nice people to check me in at an affordable price.  I rely on others experiences to let me know if I am getting a good deal and if I will walk away happy.   I do my research which is probably why my family never knows where they are going to be staying until we actually check-in.  At any rate, the things I am looking for when considering an online review are this:

  • When was the review written?  If an unhappy customer wrote something in 2005 about the stormy night the power went out, then I will dismiss it. If an unhappy customer wrote a negative review last week, then I will pay a little bit more attention.
  • How valid is the actual content? If you were angry enough to go out there and write your feelings down for all the world to see, please articulate what it is that made you upset.  Things like “worst place ever, do not stay there” are completely not useful to me.  Why is it the worst place ever and why should I not stay there?  No explanation to your random rating and review just makes you a bitter person in my book.
  • Are there good reviews? I wasn’t born yesterday; I can tell when a place pads their online reviews.   Too many good reviews are not sincere to me. Let’s face it, we are stressed out humans and honestly,  if I am made blissfully happy, I am content and  I am not going to leave my happy place to write a Google review during or even after my experience and I don’t think I am alone here.  Consider no news from me, good news for your business.  However, disgruntle me and…..
  • Did the company resolve the conflict? If the manager responds to all of the reviews to at least offer their side of the story or even thank those (that are more considerate than me) who give a glowing review, it says a lot about that business.  It means they are willing to learn from their customers and not get stuck in the old saying, “well, that’s how we’ve always done business.”  Customers will change and businesses need to adapt to these changes, even if that means responding to reviews that don’t make any sense.  It definitely makes the people working there human beings with actual feelings.

People can get pretty mean out there on the internet.  It is the perfect place to vent with very little consequence.  Make sure you are willing to read through both the good and the bad or better yet, just give them a call.  A “live” person will beat an anonymous internet review any day.

Help! My A/C Is Not Working!!

I recently asked one of my co-workers in our maintenance department if there was anything that she wished she could say to residents.  After a moment and one devilish grin, she simply stated that she wish she could tell residents to change their air filters. Warmer temperatures have us turning on our air conditioning for the first time this season and the calls have already started pouring in from residents saying that their air conditioning is  not working properly. On several different calls, maintenance techs  find that  the problem turned out to be a dirty air filter which usually results in  the tenant being charged for the service call and a brand new air filter. Air conditioning units are the biggest luxury item we have in our home and they are also our biggest source of energy consumption. Understanding their need for proper maintenance will not only save on costly repair bills but will also save you money on your next power bill.

Central air conditioning units have a part that is called an evaporator. The evaporator’s job is to absorb heat from the inside of our home and relies on the condenser to reject the heat coming from outside. This is how we get that nice cold air. If the evaporator’s coils are dirty, that dirt or dust will act as insulation around the coil and will essentially prevent the evaporator from doing its job. There is also a part on the air conditioner called a compressor. Damage to the compressor, due to poor maintenance, is very bad and very expensive to repair. Simply put, change your air filters. They will prevent all this bad stuff from happening and will keep you nice and cool all summer long. Here is a tip: every time you pay your power bill, replace your air filter.

According to the EPA, most people spend about 90% of their time indoors and your indoor air quality is actually more polluted than the outdoor air quality. There are many different options for air filters out there and they come at many different price levels. For me, I have a $20 air filter that filters everything from dust mites, pollen, pet hair, mold spores and viruses. However, our maintenance techs recommend that your purchase the thinnest, cheapest air filter you can find and just change it monthly. The reason is that the more expensive, longer lasting filters can sometimes be too thick and  actually prevent proper air flow, which in turn, will leave your home warmer. If you need to get rid of other pollutants such as pollen and mold, consider purchasing an air purifier instead of an expensive filter.

Remember, your A/C unit is your most valuable appliance during the hot days of summer. With a little extra attention, you will stay cool and hopefully save a little money before the end of the summer.

Stay Cool!!!

T. R. Lawing Realty, Inc.Property Managers Earn Top National Real Estate Recognition

Three property managers at T.R. Lawing have earned the highest designation available from the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM®).  The Certified Property Manager (CPM®) title was conferred upon Brenda Armstrong, Sallie Myrick and Kori Wing last month at a local IREM meeting.

 The CPM is recognized as the highest level of coursework for real estate managers, making its honorees experts on all aspects of property management including industry trends and issues. They must meet stringent standards in the areas of education, examination, management plan, ethics and experience. 

It is the only real estate management credential covering all asset classes: residential, commercial, retail, and industrial.  

 “What makes the CPM coursework so demanding is that the students are learning asset management, rather than just facilities management,” explains Nellie Donovan, Marketing Analysis Manager, Institute of Real Estate Management.

 “It is extremely comprehensive on the financial side, and our members are held to a code of ethics, so when a property manager earns their CPM, their clients can be sure the property managers they are working with are the very best in the business,” she adds.

 There are an estimated 350,000 property managers in the Unites States according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of these a mere 2% or 7,500 have earned the CPM designation.

The CPM imparts the recipient with credibility, respect, and industry recognition.  Approximately 70% of those who earn the CPM designation hold the highest management positions over those without the designation.  

T.R. Lawing’s new CPMs are:

Brenda Armstrong, a Realtor®/Broker with more than 12 years of experience in real estate sales and property management. She is the Property Manager & Broker in Charge of the Birkdale/Lake Norman office for T.R. Lawing Realty, Inc.  Since joining the company in February 2005, she has been an active volunteer and has served in vital leadership roles with the Charlotte Regional Realtor Association and the Housing Opportunity Foundation. Brenda is a graduate of the Foundation’s Workforce Housing Certificate Program and the association’s 2007 Leadership Development Program.  She carries GRI (Graduate Realtors Institute) and SFR (Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource) designations. 

 

Sallie Myrick has been a professional residential property manager with T.R. Lawing Realty for six years and has managed single family, multifamily complexes and condominium associations for more than ten years in the Charlotte market. She currently holds North Carolina and South Carolina Real Estate Broker licenses. Professional designations include membership in local, state and the national Realtor Associations and holder of the e-PRO designation awarded by the National Association of Realtors.

Kori Wing started her real estate career as a sales agent specializing in equestrian estates and land in the Charlotte Metro area. After two years as a salesperson, Wing joined TR Lawing Realty, Inc. and has been with the company for more than six years. Her current portfolio consists of a variety of single family homes, condominiums, and office condominium associations in the Charlotte area.  Wing said the CPM classes offered her the opportunity to speak with a number of property manager from across the country. “I realized how fortunate we are in Charlotte.  We still have companies moving into and thriving in the area, which makes our rental portfolio remain strong.” 

T.R. Lawing Realty is a full service property management company, based in Charlotte, N.C., serving Mecklenburg and the surrounding counties.  A family-owned company, T.R. Lawing has specialized in managing and leasing rental homes in Charlotte and beyond for more than 50 years.  The company serves individual owners and renters from its Charlotte offices in Elizabeth, Birkdale/Lake Norman and Providence/485.  To learn more, go to: www.trlawing.com.