Roger Martin and Life in the Loop

 

March 7, 2011

"Dead Man Walking" by Sister Helen Prejean

Dead Man Walking - Sister Helen PrejeanDead Man Walking is one woman’s eye-witness observation of the capital punishment system in our country.  It was written by Sister Helen Prejean in 1993, and describes her experiences as a spiritual advisor to two death-penalty inmates.  Along the way, she meets officials both kind and cruel, witnesses the agony of the victims’ families, chronicles the emotional toll on the guards, and discovers bribery and political corruption.  Ultimately, she helps the inmates and their families cope with the grinding terror of paying the final penalty.  Dead Man Walking was made into a movie in 1995 and an opera in 2000.  The author, a Louisiana nun, speaks always in a calm and sensible this-is-what-I-saw voice.  The juxtaposition of this quiet, factual voice against its bizarre and brutal setting makes the contrast more extreme.

Dead Man Walking is well worth reading for the ethical questions it raises.

Recommended by Ann M.

Posted in What West U Reads
March 7, 2011

The Houston Arboretum - One of Houston's Best Kept Secret

The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is one of Houston's Best Kept SecretsWith 155 wooded acres and over five miles of trails, the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is one of Houston’s Best Kept Secrets.  Once inside the woods, you could be miles from the hustle and bustle of city life.  It is hard to believe that this quiet retreat is inside the Inner Loop and just across the road from Memorial Park, the most heavily-trafficed park in the city.

The Houston Arboretum was one of the first nature education facilities for children in the State of Texas.  It is open from 7 a.m. until dusk, seven days a week. Classes and field trips are available at the Discovery Room and Nature Shop, which has public restrooms.  However, the Houston Arboretum is a haven and a sanctuary for native plants and animals – so dogs must be leashed and there is no picnicking allowed.  But if you want a quiet place to see wild birds, butterflies and flowers, this is it.

The Outer Loop trail is my personal favorite – a broad, easy path from woods, to meadows, to ponds.  As you move through all the micro-environments of the park, there is something for every child – little boys can run fast and throw sticks, and little girls can stop to smell the blossoms.  Bug spray is recommended.

The Houston Arboretum and Nature Center is located only 5.35 miles from downtown West University Place – just a ten minute trip if the freeways are moving freely.

Enjoy!

Roger Martin

March 7, 2011

Children’s Museum Wins Award

Childrens Musem of HoustonThe Children’s Museum of Houston has always been a favorite of mine.  It is a must-see visit whenever we have visiting munchkins in town. Truth to tell, it is as entertaining to the big kids (like me!) as it is to little ones.

I remember well the weekend this new facility opened.  The cramped, temporary facility along Allen Parkway was replaced with this state-of-the-art building in Houston’s Museum District.  The porches of the building are upheld by colorful, cartoon-type figures of children.  These pillars are called Caryakids in a whimsical nod to the famous Caryatid statues of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece.

Then, as now, the museum was chock-filled with exciting, hands-on activities.  When we complimented the staff on their fabulous new museum, we were shocked to discover that they had received nothing but complaints.  So my wife sent them a letter detailing how much we loved their new museum and all its exhibits – this letter was posted on the staff’s bulletin board as a morale-booster.

Now it’s official – a survey by Parents.com named our Children’s Museum the best in the country in 2011! 

The Children’s Museum of Houston is located just four miles from the center of West U. It is open Tuesday though Sunday, and entry is free on Thursday nights.

Well done – and thank you for providing the children of Houston with a Playground for the Mind!

Roger Martin

March 7, 2011

John Brown -- West U’s Chief Building Official

John Brown, West U Chief Building Inspector, wins awardCongratulations are in order for John Brown, West U’s Chief Building Official.  John is a Director-at-Large of the Building Officials Association of Texas , and was recently awarded their Jim Whatley Building Official of the Year Award.  “It was a real surprise,” said John.  “I am really honored.” The award is for an official who has “worked tirelessly to provide citizens with safe buildings in which to live and work.”

“I love West U,” said John.  “I’ve been here since 2008.”  Prior to that time, John served in Rosenberg, Jersey Village, and Katy.   John oversees West U’s building inspectors, and is responsible for enforcing residential and commercial building codes in our city.

Roger Martin

Feb. 11, 2011

Pest Control Tips from the Bug Guy

Cold weather can mean night-time visitors. Call your pest control provider.The onset of our cold snap means some critters may try to get indoors where it is warm.  Here are some helpful pest control hints from Robert Schoppe, of Drop Dead Pest Control....

If you hear night-time noises on these cold nights, do not delay.  Immediate action is required because you probably have unwanted visitors -- such as racoons, feral cats, 'possums, or those "squirrels" (the ones with the hairless tails).  Call your pest control service immediately.  Your service professional can provide humane trapping and removal of these large animal pests.

Ask your pest control service provider about organic products.  Organic products can be as effective as the nasty stuff, and are much healthier for your family.  For more information on organic pest control, check out the National Pest Management Association website at http://www.pestworld.org/.

The way to eliminate offensive or stale odors in your home is surpisingly low-tech.  Just use a Glade "Neutral Air" aerosol spray or deploy some dryer sheets.

Recently, the Houston area has seen a huge increase in bed-bug infestations.  Don't panic  -- but if you suspect you have this problem, call your pest control provider for treatment immediately.

Roger Martin

Jan. 24, 2011

6523 Westchester St - SOLD in West University Place

6523 Westchester is a charming West University Place brick cottage with a great floor plan located on a 50' x 150' lot. 

Property Information

  • Sold For: $599,000
  • House Size: 1,803 sq ft
  • Lot Size: 7,500 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2
  • Listed by Roger Martin
  • MLS #24352054

Features

  • Hardwood
  • Dine-in kitchen with garden window
  • Den features built-ins and gas fireplace

>More Great West U Homes for Sale

 

Jan. 19, 2011

Electronic Signatures - Handy for Real Estate

Docusign - electronic signatures are valid on real estate contractsElectronic signatures are being used more and more often in real estate deals.  They are safe and fast.  In fact, I have just processed my first contract offer using electronic signatures. I have to say I liked it a lot.  At Roger Martin Properties, our client base is heavy on doctors, attorneys and other busy professionals. I expect electronic signatures to be quite popular with them as well.

E-signature technology has been around since 2003, when Congress enacted legislation that made electronic records and signatures legally binding. In the case of a real estate offer, all documents are secured “in the cloud” and completely encrypted so that only the proper individuals can read and sign them. A court-admissible audit trail is created for each document, and every change is logged, dated, and time-stamped. To read up on the legal intricacies of electronic documents, go to www.docusign.com.

In practical terms, this means that we can now eliminate a lot of time spent faxing/emailing offers to multiple parties who sign individual documents. The obvious benefit to our clients is that we can respond more quickly in a competitive bidding environment. And it will be especially useful for international or out-of-town customers.

Be aware, however, that title companies still insist on pen-and-ink signatures on your final closing documents – and then only after first viewing your photo ID. And of course, we can still use paper copies if our clients prefer that method.

But for now, those electronic signatures were really convenient.  They made it possible for me to finalize my client’s offer while I waited in line to purchase my sack of dog food!

Roger Martin

Note:  this article also ran in the Real Estate News column of the Houston Chronicle on February 27, 2011.

Jan. 7, 2011

Houston Home Prices Expected to Rise in 2011

Houston Home Prices to rise in 2011Forbes.com predicted that Houston home prices will rise in 2011, according to this article dated January 6, 2011...

"Today the real estate research provider released its monthly Clear Capital Home Data Index (HDI) market report, recapping the price fluctuations of 2010 and asserting market valuation forecasts for 2011.

"According to the report 70% of the U.S.'s major markets dropped in value in 2010 and 2011 will witness further price declines.

"... Thirty-five out of 50 [of the largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas] are expected to further depreciate this year, pulling the average national values down another -3.6% by this time next year.

"But there is a shining beacon of hope in this scenario: the other 15 metros. The national market as a whole may still be hemorrhaging value but some cities are already sprouting the beginnings of a property value rebound...

"... A list of the top 10 cities that Clear Capital expects will rise in property value in 2011[includes] ... 2. Houston, TX: 3.6% price increase y/y."

Morgan Brennan, Forbes.com

To read the full article, click here.

Great news for us to hear that Houston home prices are expected to rise in 2011!

Roger Martin

Dec. 31, 2010

Roger Martin — HAR Top Producer for 2010

Roger Martin, of Roger Martin PropertiesMany thanks to the Houston Association of Realtors, who has named me one of their 2010 Top Producers for my work with real estate buyers. And special thanks to all my clients who made this possible.

Roger Martin

Dec. 31, 2010

Roger Martin – HAR Top Producer 4th Quarter 2010

Roger Martin of Roger Martin Properties - HAR Top ProducerThanks to the Houston Association of Realtors, who has named me one of their 2010 4th Quarter Top Producers for my work with real estate buyers.  And many thanks to my wonderful clients, who made this award possible.

Roger Martin