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“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough,” Melanie Gamble begins with a smile. “The greatest thing about life is that as long as you are living, in good physical and mental health, you have another chance to improve on yesterday. As a breast cancer survivor, I am acutely aware of just how precious life is, and I wake up every day with the goal of making a positive difference in someone’s life.”

From Alabama to D.C.: The Road to Real Estate

In 1994, Melanie lost her maternal grandmother.

“Bigmama,” Melanie recalls fondly. “I was devastated.”

Bigmama’s love and presence filled an essential space in Melanie’s life, from her childhood to her young adult years. It was excruciating to imagine a world without her in it, physically.

“She was my main confidante and cheerleader, and I felt a new kind of loneliness when she wasn’t just a phone call or road trip away anymore,” Melanie explains.

Two years after Bigmama passed, Melanie’s mother casually mentioned during conversation that Bigmama had left Melanie some land in neighboring Daphne, Alabama.

“That was news to me. I’d never heard anyone mention it at all before, much less that it had been willed to me. Although she never lived there, it was family property that Bigmama had inherited herself at some point, and it was special because she’d left it with me specifically in mind.”

At that time, however, Melanie wasn’t quite ready to assume the demands of being a new landowner. So her mother, who lived nearby in Pensacola, Florida, only about 40 miles from Daphne, put the deed in her name.

“When my husband Jay and I were married in 2000, we were doing well financially and decided together that we could take over responsibility for the land, its carrying costs, and its other related expenses,” Melanie explains. “My mom had been managing it for several years, and it would be one less thing for her to worry about. As her 60th birthday approached, our plan was to surprise her with a visit, a family celebration, and this great news. Except we were the ones in for a surprise — we discovered that Mom had forgotten to pay the property taxes on the land, and an investor had swooped in and purchased it from a tax auction for a mere $1,000.”

From Heartbreak to Inspiration

Melanie was heartbroken. Yet, true to her spirit of determination, she began contacting the local courts to see if the transaction could be reversed. She was hoping that by some act of divine intervention, there would be a way to get the land back.

“It was too late. We had missed the 12-month redemption period. The land my grandmother intended for me to enjoy and protect was permanently gone.”

Melanie was hurt, brokenhearted. Still, she was able to channel her frustration into something positive. By June of that same year, she was taking real estate classes. By September, she was a licensed agent. That was 19 years ago.

The real estate courses inspired a sense of joy in Melanie. She wanted to help others avoid the same pitfalls as she did.

“I knew if the loss of property could happen so easily to my family in Daphne, Alabama, it could likely happen just about anywhere to anyone,” Melanie says. “Because of that, I am sure of this: a real estate loss will never happen to me again, nor will it happen to anyone who is within my power to help — at least not without a fight.”

“I lost my grandmother’s land, but I gained a career that’s proving to be an inheritance not only for me, but for my three children.”

A Career Built on the Passion to Serve

Almost two decades later, Melanie’s passion for real estate — or perhaps better said, her desire to help others — remains strong.

“[I’m passionate about] educating agents and consumers,” Melanie says. “Living in the metropolitan Washington, DC, area, we are somewhat insulated to huge unemployment numbers and severe underemployment. However, throughout this country, home prices have risen nationally three times faster than incomes since the turn of the century. This is making homeownership extremely difficult for many Americans, unlike we have ever seen before. I am passionate about not only helping someone acquire real estate, but it is important for me that they have all of the tools necessary to keep the real estate.”

Melanie is a woman of faith. She believes that, at heart, regardless of what we believe in, we are all people of faith.

“Growing up, I would always hear, ‘If you can believe it, you can achieve it.’ For a little black girl growing up in the ’70s in the South, that wasn’t always the case. There were barriers to overcome and prejudices to squash. However, I did learn that once I determined in my mind exactly what I wanted to accomplish, and put in the necessary work, it would come to fruition.”

Day by day, Melanie remains determined to accomplish her goals. And day by day, she continues to watch her dreams come to life.