REAL ESTATE 101: How to Save Thanksgiving

When I first got my real estate license over a decade ago, my oldest and dearest friend said —

Before it comes up, I want you to know that I’m not going to hire you to be my real estate agent. I know about thirty agents, including my own mother, and if I picked any one of them, it would make the other twenty-nine mad, so I’m not hiring any of you. I’ll hire someone nobody’s heard of and who isn’t one of the crowd. That way, I can push them as hard as I need to and get as mad at them as I feel and even fire them if I want, and I won’t be risking a relationship or ruining Thanksgiving.”

No kidding – he really did say that.

I’ll bet you know a bunch of realtors, too. You might even be related to one or two. And each of them expects you to hire them when you’re ready to buy or sell property, right? And you probably dread that conversation. Or maybe you just feel flat-out obligated to use that person, no questions asked. So with all that peer pressure, you probably never even get to the point where you consider which of them is actually best-suited for your particular situation. But, seriously, would you hire a patent attorney to defend you in a murder case? Or a dermatologist to perform your brain surgery? (more…)

Top 5 Ways to Avoid Really Bad Real Estate Karma

I was a typical first-time homebuyer. I looked at everything in town — all price ranges, all styles and sizes, all neighborhoods. Usually I used the same agent for all this, but sometimes I would call the listing agent directly or call on FSBOs (For Sale by Owner). I actually looked for about two years and had contracts on five different properties before I made my final commitment. In the end, I got mad and fired that agent who had showed me no fewer than two hundred homes, and closed without her.


Boy, have I got bad real estate agent karma.

Fast forward about ten years. I’ve left the corporate world and gotten my real estate agent’s and broker’s licenses. I now know how things work, and payback truly is a bear. People think nothing of wasting my time, my knowledge, my money. And that’s karma. I earned it. But the fact is, if I let it continue, that’s also my own darn fault. It’s my fault every time I let someone misuse and abuse me because, like any relationship, I let them. I am teaching them how to treat me. And we as a profession have not taught you as a public what we do, why, and how — and most importantly — what’s in it for you. So here you go…  (more…)

Health, Harmony & Prosperity

If you don’t want to be happy, warning: This essay is not for you.


My office after the storm, 9/13/2008.

Eight years ago, I was dead broke. I’d lost everything but my clothes and furniture to real estate investments and a brokerage that went belly-up after a 100-year hurricane washed it all away. No home, no car, no 401K, no money. I was a real estate agent, but with nothing in escrow, I was effectively unemployed. I had no resources, no apparent possibilities, and no way to pay the rent that was due two weeks later. I was about to turn 53 and I’d been fighting this losing battle for two and a half years. I was plum tuckered out.

1200px-Yin_yang.svgThen one day in one of my countless brainstorming sessions with myself, I realized there wasn’t anything there to keep me, and certainly nothing there to support me. So I moved. I sold stuff, gave away stuff, and moved a thousand miles away, found a job, rented a much smaller house, and began the journey back to “normal” (whatever that is).  (more…)

My Happy Place: Wilmington, NC

I always knew I’d land here eventually. I just didn’t dare dream it would be so soon.

love-where-you-live_logoI’ve been coming to this part of the world for over 40 years. I’m a water baby, and all my young summers were spent in bliss on the Neuse River at Camp Seafarer, just two hours up the coast from Wilmington. The impact to my life was and is incalculable. I donate a portion of my income to help send other girls to camp. I still volunteer there as often as they’ll have me. The highlight of my year is my week as a Mother Duck each June. Pure delight.

So here I am, living in my literal Happy Place, and enjoying the pleasure of helping other people find theirs.

I specialize in historic homes c. 1880-1930, and waterfront/waterside homes of all ages. Those are my favorites to live in, restore, and visit, so I enjoy finding and selling them for others best of all.

Here are some of my favorites:

sold houses.png

IMG_3379.JPGI hope you’ll reach out when you are ready to buy or sell, or if you have questions about anything real estate-related. There’s nothing better than picking your own neighbors. Won’t you be mine?


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RECIPE: Étouffée (Crawfish or Shrimp)

As my first blog post, I thought it only fitting that I give you the gift of simply marvelous food. It just seems like the thing to do. And a sneaky way to remind you that I’m from New Orleans, among other places. Bon appétit!

This recipe is a hybrid from Paul Prudhomme and my cousin Lillian Lanclos Robertson. I like the dark roux, “plunged trinity,” and the spice blend from Chef Paul, and the tangy addition of mustard from Cousin Lillian. I added the Tabasco, lemon juice, worcestershire, parsley, and green onions because they just seem right. I have also used poblano instead of bell pepper when I cooked it for Jody, who doesn’t like bells, and it added a subtle layer of flavor. Adjust the cayenne to your personal level of heat. As written, it has a slow burn, and I like it that way!