GREENE COLUMN: He makes a house a home

Corwyn J. Melette

Wade Spees

When he left his furniture store job to go into real estate in 2004, a co-worker and minister told him that "real estate can be your ministry."

Corwyn J. Melette, 37, has been selling houses for more than eight years now, and that statement "stayed with me."

Homeownership is a dream, a thing of pride for most people, and it makes them feel good, he said. But to sustain that, people must be in the best home for them. So a good sale is not just selling a house but selling the right house to the right person. That's Melette's mission.

Wearing many hats

Often that means going beyond an agent's responsibilities. Sometimes, Melette is a counselor, relationship specialist, therapist, financial adviser -- whatever it takes.

If you are a first-time homebuyer, you may tell him what you want in a house, but be prepared for him to advise you differently.

Before looking at "your dream house," he will talk about goals for a home and being realistic about what you want and can afford.

Sometimes, it's not what people want to hear.

After the housing market crashed, "I saw we were doing it all wrong. … We were working to give people what they wanted, not helping them to look at (the big picture.)"

Many want to buy the amount of house they are approved for by the bank. That is not always the right thing to do. Now, Melette encourages clients to look at the payment. "You have to be comfortable."

He goes the extra mile to help his clients. Sometimes that means late-night phone calls. A military couple who had just moved into a home he sold them had a pipe spewing water at 1 a.m. They called him, and he got dressed and met the repairmen until the work was done.

Realtor of the Year

Many clients can benefit from financial counseling. Oftentimes, when you grow up poor -- as Melette did -- you have to learn to work with a budget after living paycheck to paycheck.

Melette, a Mullins native, lives in a 3,400-square-foot Summerville home. His childhood home would fit into his master suite.

Because most of his clients are African-American, Melette wants to start a local chapter of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers -- founded in 1947 to represent black real estate professionals who were denied entry to white associations.

In David Slade's Jan. 3 report, Melette said the chapter can provide educational and business opportunities. It also can help him to better serve his clients. The African-American community has a larger share of subprime mortgages, and NAREB focuses on ways to help those in that situation. It also helps people into affordable homes by providing down payment assistance.

Melette, owner of Corwyn J. Melette and Associates and a married father of five, was named Realtor of the Year for 2011 by the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.

Maybe checking on busted water pipes gave him the edge.

Reach City Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555.