Black Diamond Real Estate

Because we are a small firm by design, we are personally involved in every step of the buying and selling process, from listings to showings and from contracts to closings. When you have any questions, you deal directly with us.

Client Golf

Two guys standing on a beautiful green golf courseA number of years ago I arranged a golf game at Alamance Country Club with my appraiser training supervisor, and the owner of a leading mortgage brokerage company here in Burlington at the time. The mortgage broker company owner who was a member invited another member to play, and I brought my boss as a guest. The game was set so we decided to play a friendly $5 Nassau to make things more interesting. My boss was from Kinston and grew up playing some golf with his older brother at Kinston Country Club, but rarely played once he settled down with his wife and in his appraisal career. I, on the other hand, went through periods of playing and not playing and had just gotten back into playing again. The mortgage brokerage owner didn’t play much but was a decent golfer and his partner played regularly. It seemed like a perfect and fair match in the making even though we had never played with or against each other.

I don’t remember all the details of the match, but what I do remember, however, is my boss who had played so little at the time and was hitting 2 iron tee shots flying about 240 yards straight down the middle of just about every fairway. He even birdied the first par three and played well on the holes I didn’t. It was the proverbial perfect brother-in-law display of golf between us. Our opponents played competitively on the front side, but we whipped them pretty good on the first 9-hole match. Recognizing that my boss and I were playing well, the dilemma we faced was to essentially throw the match and let our client and his partner start winning some holes on the second nine hole match, or to keep finding out how good we could play right up to finish. Being young in our early thirties at the time, we of course chose to keep playing as good as we could. The second match was similar to the first one and we ended up winning the front side, backside, and overall match, and $15.

The price of winning didn’t come without a cost, however. While our mortgage brokerage client didn’t stop ordering appraisals from us, we did notice a slight decline in volume over the next couple of months and we never played golf together again. If my boss and I had to do it all over again, we would have just played for fun instead of playing them in a match play game for money. Looking back 18 years later we now laugh about it and wonder what the heck we were thinking.

If you are ready to buy or sell, call Mary Staton or Bert Ward - they’ll be happy to answer any questions.

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64 Hits

Two Pigs in a Trailer

Is it safe for to walk through a home with two pigs in the house?I wanted to share a funny story that happened to me when I was first getting started in the appraisal business. On this particular day, I received an order to appraise a double wide home located in Eli Whitney, a township situated at the crossroads of HWY 87 South and Greensboro-Chapel Hill Rd, in southern Alamance County, known for its annual “Uncle Eli’s Quilting Party” and home to the late great real estate instructor Everette Mogul. I was looking forward to this assignment since I enjoyed driving all over Alamance County and visiting places like Lake Cammack, Glencoe Mill Village, Bass Mountain, Saxapahaw, and Snow Camp, as well as other picturesque tranquil settings located throughout the county. As an added bonus, I was happy to be appraising a double-wide since it took less time to appraise, and paid the same amount of money as most larger homes did which was the typical $300 at the time.

When I arrived at the home midday, I did the same thing I always did, greeted the homeowner at the front door and then proceeded to measure the exterior. Within about ten minutes I finished sketching the dwelling and jotting down my measurements, so it was now time for me to do an interior walk-through of the home, to certify that I had been inside and that it was in good condition. When the homeowner opened the door to let me in, the first thing I noticed was that she had her stereo cranked up, was drinking a margarita, and dancing in the middle of her living room with two full-grown pigs by her side – I kid you not! As if this was not a sight to see in and of itself, I was totally taken back (to say the least), when she then asked me if I wanted to party? Pausing for a split second to collect my thoughts as to what the heck was happening before my eyes, I instinctively and politely said no thank you, and asked if it was safe for me to walk through her home with her two pigs in the house? She said not to worry that they were her pets and friendly animals.

Having grown up a city boy in Country Club Forest and never been around a pig that wasn’t fenced in, I proceeded with caution to complete my walk-through while keeping a close eye on the two pigs, got the heck out of there as quickly as possible, and went back to my office to complete the appraisal report.

If you are ready to buy or sell, call Mary Staton or Bert Ward - they’ll be happy to answer any questions.

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160 Hits

Wee Doggie!

Here’s another funny story going back to my days at Mill Creek. One of the little things I enjoyed was driving across town through Burlington and Haw River on Church St./HWY 70 to work in Mebane.  

On this particular day, it was hot so I decided to stop off at the Little General convenience store before turning onto Dodson Rd. to take the back way by Eastern Alamance to Mill Creek. Wearing my coat and tie, I jumped out of the car, got a drink and walked up to the counter to pay. Behind the counter was a young girl sitting in an upholstered rocking chair watching tv, with her mother tending the cash register.

The little girl looked up at me and said Wee Doggie! At that moment, I thought that was a strange thing for her to say but paid for my drink, got in my car, and went on my way. After pulling out of the convenience store parking lot it dawned on me that she was commenting in her own country way about how I was dressed, saying exactly what Jed Clampett would say, Wee Doggie!

Reflecting on the moment, it made me smile and laugh. I still pass by the little General in my travels to Mebane from time to time and still think about that moment, but I haven’t stopped in since. I may stop in again sometime just for the heck of it, but if and when I do, I can assure you I won’t be wearing a coat and tie to attract any unwanted attention.

If you are ready to buy or sell, call Mary Staton or Bert Ward - they’ll be happy to answer any questions.

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165 Hits

Jackpot

Hands on pile of moneyBeing in real estate sales you often never know who your next buyer is going to be or where they are going to come from.  As fate would have it, a Chapel Hill Realtor who sold one of my listings in Mebane last year referred a buyer to me looking to buy a home in Burlington.  Not knowing the particulars of the buyer, other than they were a cash buyer, I referred him to Mary Staton since I was busy working another deal.

After accepting the referral, we discovered that our buyer came into a large source of cash by winning the North Carolina lottery.  After showing him several homes, we finally found the perfect one which he bought for his parents. Using the left-over money, he bought a new car for himself and put the rest into savings. When the sale closed, we paid a referral fee to the referring agent and couldn’t help thinking how mysterious this business can sometimes be.   

 If you are ready to buy or sell, call  Mary Staton or Bert Ward - they’ll be happy to answer any questions.

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230 Hits

You Can’t Sell A House If Your Spouse Doesn’t Sign

One morning when I was first getting started in real estate sales, I received a call from an older retired man looking to get his home appraised.  I asked what the purpose of the appraisal was for since there are different types of appraisal assignments that can affect an appraiser’s opinion of value.  He advised that he was interested in an appraisal for sale purpose. I let him know I could help sell his home, but if I did, I would not be able to appraise it since it would be a conflict of interest.  The owner decided that since I was an appraiser, a Comparable Market Analysis (CMA) performed by me would serve his interest just as well as an appraisal since he wanted to sell.  

After pulling and reviewing copies of the tax record and deed, a listing appointment was scheduled and I went out the next day to meet with him.  Upon arriving I covered Working With Agents with him and he proceeded to let me know why he wanted to sell.  As it turned out, he had purchased the home for his son to live in while the son looked after him.  The only problem was his son didn’t want to move back to Burlington so my client was moving to Texas to live with him.  He further explained that he was tired of living alone after his wife took him for half of everything he owned. I listened with empathy and promised I would do everything I could to help him sell his home for the best possible price so he could make the move to Texas and be with his son.  

After the second week his home was on the market, it was placed under contract with a financially qualified young couple.  Approximately four weeks later we met the buyers for the first time at the closing table. The first question out of the attorney’s mouth to my seller was, are you still married?  I was thinking this was just a formality and how could this man be married after explicitly telling me about how he had been taken for half of everything he owned? Then he replied yes he was still married.  

After hearing his answer my jaw dropped and I looked across the table at the young couple and their agent, looking at me as if they had just seen a ghost.  We were all taken aback and speechless, except for the attorney. The attorney asked if his wife was still in town to which the seller replied she was. He then asked if he had her phone number and that if he called her, did he see any reason why she would object to coming in to sign the deed?  To which he replied I don’t think so. As good luck and fate would have it, the attorney was able to reach his wife and fifteen minutes later she came in to sign the deed.  

After the closing successfully ended, I asked the attorney how he knew my seller was still married since the public records showed that my seller was the sole owner of record.  The attorney said that he handled the closing of the home when my seller bought it and knew he was married. My seller assumed that since he bought the home without his wife, that it was his to sell without her.  After hearing my seller’s sad story about being left by his wife and that he was the sole owner of record, It never crossed my mind to ask the magic question of whether or not he was still married. After this close encounter, I no longer assume that someone isn’t married just because they have settled up and parted ways.

If you have any questions about what you will need for a home closing,or if you are ready to buy or sell, call  Mary Staton or Bert Ward - they’ll be happy to answer any questions.  

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646 Hits

A Home For Large Dogs

This day started off like most any day when I was appraising full time.  I jumped into my Yukon 

XL with my clipboard, file folder, Sony Mavica disk camera, pencil, trusty 100’ tape measure, and drove to Mebane to appraise another home.

When I arrived at the home, the owner greeted me at the front door and invited me to come inside.  As with any homeowner, I advised that I would come inside to do a walkthrough, but the first thing I needed to do was measure the exterior of her home.

So off I went to check out the back of the house and as I turned the corner the first thing that caught my attention was a barking Pit Bull chained to a stake by a small and run down looking dog house.  Startled at first, I relaxed seeing that there was not a single blade of grass around the circumference of the stake, giving me peace of mind that I was out of harm's way from this territorial looking dog.

No sooner than just having turned my back to the dog to hook my tape measure onto the house, I see out of the corner of my eye this large dog charging at me, beyond his well-worn circular dirt path.  

A quick adrenaline rush came over me and in a split second, I dropped my clipboard, raised my tape measure in the right hand and prepared to hopefully strike the dog when he attacked me.  I was thinking, I’ve got one shot and it’s got to count.

Then all of a sudden and out of nowhere the dog, still running in full stride, veered directly off to my left to chase after the neighbor’s dog.

Hearing the loud barking dogs, the owner came out of her home and authoritatively rounded up her dog.  After securing her dog back to the stake she apologized and said that her dog had broken free from his collar again and that she had to buy him a new one about every six weeks.  

Vicious dog attack averted, thank God! 

If you are ready to buy or sell and you are looking for pet-friendly homes, call  Mary Staton or Bert Ward - they’ll be happy to answer any questions.

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609 Hits

What’s In a Name?

How does one decide what name to choose when going out on their own to start a new business?  After all, it may be the easiest yet one of the most difficult decisions to make when starting a company.  I was faced with such a decision while in my late twenties with my parents supporting my decision to make a move from a career in credit and collections to real estate.  It all started when my wife and I bought our first investment property and formed a company named Black Diamond Capital, LLC. The name was suggested by my father because of my love and passion for snow skiing.  Not giving it a second thought, I agreed that the name was perfect. A few years later I went into the real estate appraisal profession and started my own appraisal company. A name change was in order but I didn’t want to drop the company name that my father came up with.  As a result, the new company was named Alamance Appraisals-Black Diamond Capital, LLC – DBA as Alamance Appraisals. Several years later when I opened up my own real estate firm, another name change was in order so the company was renamed to Alamance Appraisals-Black Diamond Real Estate, LLC. – DBA as Alamance Appraisals, and DBA as Black Diamond Real Estate.  

Now that you know the story behind the name Black Diamond Real Estate, what about my nickname, Bert, where did it come from and how did it stick?  Some forty years ago or so, when I was a kid, my parents hired George DeLoache to teach me how to play tennis and look after me and my brother when they were not home.  George was the best, not only did he teach me a lot about tennis, he even took me to his family’s outlet store, when it was located across the interstate, and gave me a Peter Frampton screen print t-shirt.  Simply put, George was cool and someone I very much looked up to. So being his sidekick, he one day out of the blue just started calling me Bert. I thought how creative and original, I now had my own identity since I was being called everything from Bob, to Rob, to Robert.  I didn’t know any Berts and my father goes by Bob, my cousin goes by Rob, and I felt being called Robert was just too long of a name. Being called Bert was perfect. Next thing I know, my best at the time, Bubba, started calling me Bert along with his parents and grandfather.  From there the nickname stuck and took off by the time I finished middle school. I’ll still answer to any of those names, but my friends call me Bert, and I go by Bert when I meet new people. 

If you are ready to buy or sell, call  Mary Staton or Bert Ward - they’ll be happy to answer any questions.  

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662 Hits

Quicksand

Before I entered the appraisal profession I was a new home sales agent for Coldwell Banker HPW, Better Homes & Garden, representing John Wieland Homes, First Oakland Properties, and C. Richard Dobson Builders (now part of D.R. Horton) at Mill Creek Golf Club in Mebane.

One day while working in the C. Richard Dobson model home in The Park neighborhood, a middle-aged looking couple dropped in to tour the home.  They seemed impressed with the Mill Creek master-planned community development, and excited about buying a home there.

After touring the home, the husband decided to briskly walk the lot with his wife shadowing him from behind.  I decided to observe from a distance on the back patio giving them personal space to look around and discover the lay of the land on their own.

The husband, meticulously surveying the land, continued walking beyond the grassed backyard and onto the back end of the next door cleared lot, at the end of the cul-de-sac.  The next thing I know, I saw him walk right into a sandy looking quagmire, ankle-deep. Seemingly unfazed, he proceeded to take two more steps and was shin-deep, then another two steps and found himself thigh deep.  In just a matter of seconds be for things had gone from bad to worse. I was stunned and speechless as I looked on in disbelief at what was unfolding before my very own eyes. It was as if I was watching an old western movie where the good guy was being swallowed up in quicksand.  Nothing in real estate school or new agent training had prepared me for what to do in such a situation.

Determined, the man mustered with all his might and strength to somehow slowly trudge through it all and walk his way out of this sinkhole to freedom.  As he made his way back to the house, I made sure he was ok and saw that both pant legs were heavily covered in this quicksand looking slop. Thinking quickly I remembered that the home had a garden hose used for watering bushes that were hooked up to the front side of the house and I sprang into action to hose him down as best I could.

The man and his wife then quietly walked down the driveway, got in their car, and drove off.  I never heard from or saw them again and twenty-two years later I still can’t help but wonder where they ended up settling down.  

If you are ready to buy or sell, call  Mary Staton or Bert Ward - they’ll be happy to answer any questions.  

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777 Hits