Roger Martin and Life in the Loop


Nov. 27, 2012

The Houston Economy – Bucking National and International Trends

Jobs - US vs HoustonAs usual, the recent symposium by the Institute for Regional Forecasting answered many questions about the Houston economy – and raised others.  This was the last lecture by Dr. Ted Jones, the Chief Economist at Stewart Title.  Thanks to Dr. Jones for plugging the gap between the exiting director of the IRF, Dr. Barton Smith, and incoming director, Dr. Robert Gilmer from the Federal Reserve.

As before, the economic information is mixed.  The Houston economy is doing stunningly well.  We are creating jobs at an annual rate of 3.5%, well above the 3% threshold for a recessions and twice that of the US as a whole.  Jobs in the Houston Metropolitan Area have now surpassed their previous record, and gains are predicted for next year across all categories, including medicine, oil and gas, petrochemicals, shipping, and construction.  And remember, that is before the much-anticipated re-opening of the Panama Canal brings the markets of a second entire hemisphere through our Port of Houston.  Houston is, therefore, stronger and better diversified than ever before.

Dr. Jones was quite bullish with regard to Houston real estate as well, citing historically low interest rates and a tightening supply.  He stated that real estate currently has “the best return in 12 years.”  However, the US as a whole is creating new housing at only half the rate needed to meet predicted population growth, and Dr. Jones predicted that housing and buildable raw land may soon become increasingly pricey.

So the Houston economy is doing fine.  The storm clouds on the fiscal horizon come from both national and international problems.  Congress has yet to deal with the looming Fiscal Cliff.  Which means that businesses and investors cannot make sound decisions because they do not know what their ground rules will be.  Dr. Jones also pointed out that over the last thirty-five years, the recovery from each subsequent recession has been weaker and weaker.  And he said that Europe has now slipped back into recession.

So once again, my crystal ball is quite cloudy.  How the robust Houston economy will respond to national and international forces is still an un-answered question.  As for us here in West University Place, I can testify for certain that the inventory of real estate properties is uncomfortably low.  Homes are selling at an impressively brisk rate and ignoring the year-end holidays.

So we look forward – cautiously – to next year.  We are happy to see Dr. Robert Gilmer taking the helm at the Institute for Regional Forecasting, and look forward to his take on the Houston economy in the spring.

Roger Martin

Roger Martin Properties

Nov. 27, 2012

The Golden Mean in West University Place Homes

The Golden Mean in West University Place Homes

Thanks again to my friend Mallory Agerton, for explaining why West University Place homes are pleasing to the eye.  Turns out, our architecture conforms to classical (and artistic) proportions!

 "What is the secret ingredient in a West U Bungalow?

(Hint: You studied about its creator as a kid in math class and probably didn’t even know it!)

There is something delightfully charming about the older West U brick bungalows.  As an artist, I find them beautifully proportioned. Frequently the craftsmen who built and designed them followed the proportions of the Golden Mean, a ratio discovered by Pythagoras and used extensively in the Parthenon and many other famous buildings.  The Golden Mean is the ratio of 1 to approximately 1.618   I have done a little sketch of the house across the street showing how often the Golden Mean is used in its design. To do the sketch I used a tool called Golden Mean calipers, which divide distances in a ratio of 1 to 1.618. However when I am out for my morning walk I don’t actually perform calculations to decide if a house is pleasing, I just notice that it feels right.  So the next time you are out for a brisk walk this fall, I hope you will appreciate the classic brick bungalows on your block.

In the sketch, I have labeled four places the Golden Mean occurs. The lengths corresponding to “A” are 1.618 times longer than the lengths corresponding to “B”. These places are:

  • Length of roofline to total height of the house
  • Width of upper left window to height of window
  • Division of roof horizontally by center peak of front porch over front door (This occurs often in bungalows in the placement of a front porch in an asymmetrical design.)"

Mallory Agerton, Mallory Agerton Fine Art

Nov. 27, 2012

Golden Sun and the Golden Mean - by Mallory Agerton

Golden Sun by Mallory Agerton

Many thanks to Mallory Agerton, one of our talented West University Place artists, for contributing this guest post.

"Golden Sun is just off the easel, depicting a quiet moment when the sun slips down through the trees, and work is done for the day.  As a child my family went often to San Marcos on weekends to stay in the old caretaker's cabin by the river on Aunt Doris' farm.  My dad was a doctor, and we'd leave Houston after he'd finished seeing his last patient.  After passing through the city limits, we'd come to the gentle rolling hills of Brookshire.  He would relax, the sun would hover over the tree tops, and then descend rapidly covering the landscape in "blue dark."  With the classical music my father loved so dearly playing on the radio, I  would watch the hills flowing by, punctuated lacy trees and pastures.  I hope that my landscapes will connect you to your own memories of peaceful times.

A friend asked why my paintings have such a feeling of the idyllic.  One of the reasons why is that I use the proportion of the Golden Mean in planning compositions. The Golden Mean is a mathmetical relationship, 1 to 1.618. It was discovered by Pythagoras, and was used by the archictects of the Parthenon, Leonardo DaVinci, landscape painter George Inness, and many others.  Our credit cards have that proportion, and even many of the bones in the human body are formed in the Golden Mean. The proportion is found through out all of nature.

In "Golden Sun,"  the ratio of the heighth to the width of the canvas is 1 to 1.618, and the position of the sun in the painting is both horizontally and vertically on the the Golden Mean. Thus, the composition feels right to the viewer. While I often measure with a ruler, I also have calipers designed to locate The Golden Mean.  Frequently I will place the horizon line or the tops of the trees on The Golden Mean in a painting as well.

If you are curious about The Golden Mean, you might like to watch this video.

On another note, my painting of angels, "Be Not Afraid will be at the Dallas Museum of Biblical Art for the next couple of years.  It is not on display yet, but will be soon. The museum has a fine collection of  Christian and Jewish art, including works from the Renaissance and Medieval periods and all the way to the present.  You can read about the project here.

To see more of my works, you can visit my online portfolio at I greatly appreciate your allowing me to share my art and my thoughts with you, and hope you will share yours with me."

Mallory Agerton,



Posted in Art in West U
Nov. 9, 2012

5904 Community Dr - SOLD in West University Place

904 Community Dr is a custom-built Hill Country retreat in the City of West University Place! This four bedroom, 2.5 bath home features limestone walls, a standing-seam tin roof, recessed lighting, surround sound, and stained concrete floors. The home was built by Tom Tynen and includes high ceilings, built-in cherry-stained cupboards and shelves, and much, much more. 

he vaulted entry is a gorgeous combination of limestone and wood. The living room is flooded with natural light. The dining room of 5904 Community Dr features views to the lush backyard and includes a built-in buffet topped with granite and display shelves. The island kitchen has glass-front cupboards, granite counters, and slate backsplash. The kitchen is well-appointed, with stainless steel appliances, a gas cooktop, plentiful storage, generous counter space, and a dine-in breakfast bar.  An enclosed sun room gives wrap-around views of the backyard, and also features a corner fireplace faced with Austin Chalk Facade.

he downstairs master suite has a large walk-in closet and built-in custom shelving. The master bath includes custom cupboards, granite counters and a walk-in frameless shower with a shower bench.  A slate-and-stone stairway leads to the three upstairs bedrooms, with their shared bathroom.

he over-sized lot is beautifully landscaped, including a flagstone patio, a lily pond, and a stone pathway. The backyard potting shed comes with a sink and lots of hooks for storage. 5904 Community Dr was built in 2005 and is in excellent condition. The home is a short walk or bike trip and to Colonial Park, Colonial Pool, the West University Library, and West University Elementary School.


Property Information

  • Sold For: $649,000
  • House Size: 3,287 sq ft
  • Lot Size: 8.933 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 2.5
  • Listed by Roger Martin
  • MLS #10201656

>More Great West U Homes for Sale



Nov. 5, 2012

3611 Bellefontaine St - SOLD in Braeswood Place

3611 Bellefontaine St is a traditional 4 bedroom , 2.5 bath home with a garage apartment located within walkind distance of Mark Twain Elementray, Pershing Middle School, the YMCA and the library.

Property Information

  • Sold For: $661,000
  • House Size: 2,608 sq ft
  • Lot Size: 6,875 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 4 or 5
  • Bathrooms: 2.5
  • MLS #92927534


  • Garage apartment
  • Energy-efficient windows
  • Recent roof (2011)

>More Great Braeswood Place Homes for Sale

Posted in
Oct. 30, 2012

4236 Sunset Boulevard - SOLD in West University Place

4236 Sunset Boulevard is a beautiful traditional home with 3 or 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and an upstairs game room. Features include a two story entryway that opens to the formal living and dining rooms.  The master bedroom suite on the first floor, and there are hardwood floors and lush landscaping.

Property Information

  • Sold For: $629,540
  • House Size: 2,978 sq ft
  • Lot Size: 5,000 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 3 or 4
  • Bathrooms: 2 full, 1 half
  • Listed by Roger Martin
  • MLS # 88532445


  • 3 to 4 Bedrooms and 2.5 baths
  • Two story open entryway
  • Hardwoods, gas log fireplace
  • Island kitchen, granite counters, stainless steel appliances
  • Master bath with separate shower, two sinks, claw-foot tub, and leaded glass windows
  • Upstairs game room
  • Brick paved patio with lush landscaping

>More Great West U Homes for Sale


Oct. 18, 2012

4116 Coleridge Street - SOLD in West University Place

4116 Coleridge Street is a beautifully-maintained, four-bedroom home located on an oversized lot. Features include high ceilings with walls of glass overlook the gorgeous backyard, upstairs game room, and a deck with wrap-around seating.

Property Information

  • Sold For: $852,500
  • House Size: 3,579 sq ft
  • Lot Size: 7,200 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 3 full, 1 half
  • Listed by Roger Martin
  • MLS # 38108974


  • Formals, hardoowds
  • Master suite and study down
  • Three bedrooms plus game room and study up
  • Granite and tile kitchen
  • Cedar closet, floored attic storage
  • Deck with wrap-around seating

>More Great West U Homes for Sale


Oct. 12, 2012

2314 Dorrington St #D - SOLD in the Museum District

2314 Dorrington St

2314 Dorrington Street is a 3 story townhome near Rice Village and the Medical Center.  The home has second floor living areas and a soft contemporary feel.

Property Information

  • Sold For: $423,050
  • House Size: 2,597 sq ft
  • Lot Size: 1,833 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 3.5
  • Buyer Represented by Roger Martin
  • MLS #92574923


  • Gourmet kitchen with granite, stainless, gas.
  • Gaslog fireplace in Living area
  • Built-in wine cooler
  • Balconies

>More Great Museum District Homes for Sale


Sept. 30, 2012

Julie Webber - HAR Top Producer 3rd Quarter 2012

Julie Webber, Sales Associate with Roger Martin PropertiesCongratulations to Julie Webber!  The Houston Association of Realtors has named Julie a Top Producer real estate agent for the first quarter of 2012.  Julie is a Sales Associate at Roger Martin Properties, and HAR has recognized for her work with home buyers.

Well done, Julie!

Roger Martin

Roger Martin Properties

Sept. 27, 2012

"Maude Brown's Baby" by Richard Cunningham

Maude Brown's Baby by Richard CunninghamMaude Brown's Baby is a delightful first novel by local West University Place author Richard Cunningham.  The book is an historical murder mystery set in Houston and Galveston during World War I.  Richard was inspired to write this book by an actual photograph.

I adore historical novels, so this book was an enjoyable read for me.  But like a roman a clef, the extra special fun is in spotting the local landmarks and events.  I was completely hooked when I read this...

"Them cups? They was the first things I remember buyin' when we come here from Galveston after the Great Storm." Clarence raised his voice so Naomi could hear. "Remember, Mama? That feed store over on Washington had 'em two for a nickel... "

Of course, we MUST be talking about the Wabash Antiques and Feed Store, located at 5701 Washington, right???  Which is incidentally one of Houston's Best Kept Secrets, and probably the only place within spitting distance of downtown Houston where you can still buy roosters, feed and hay.

In Maude Brown's Baby, two of the characters work as photographers for the Houston Chronicle at Travis and Texas, which is still occupied by its massive printing presses.  The reporters write their articles on classic Underwood typewriters, of course.  Troop trains full of wounded soldiers from the battles in Europe disembark at the old Union Station, now the site of Minute Maid Park.  The Fourth Ward, Freedman's Town, white mansions in the Heights, and the Interurban Trolley all wind their way through the story line.  In 1918, Galveston is just a short train-ride away.  The Galveston Seawall is under construction, and the town's honkey-tonk industry is beginning to organize itself along mafia lines.

I highly recommend Maude Brown's Baby, both for the story itself, and for its backwards glimpse of a youthful Houston and Galveston.

Ann Martin

Roger Martin Properties 

Posted in What West U Reads