Roger Martin and Life in the Loop


Sept. 10, 2011

"Rising Tide" by John M. Barry

Rising Tide by John M BarryHere in Houston, we know all about natural disasters.  We know how to clean up after them.  We know how to feed people who have lost everything.  We know how to take care of people while they get back on their feet.

It hasn’t always been like that.

In the teeth of the Mississippi Flood of 2011, we visited some friends in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.  At the time, everyone was anxiously watching the news to see if the great spillways would be opened, diverting flood waters from the Mississippi to the Atchafalaya.  They were.  One of our friends gave me a book titled Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America by John M. Barry, 1997.  It made fascinating reading – especially against the backdrop of the 2011 flood.

John M. Barry is an absolutely gifted writer – able to make dense, complicated issues as gripping as a detective novel.  His vivid descriptions of the people, places and events of this enormous natural disaster rival only the stories about the 1900 hurricane that hit Galveston.

The Mississippi River drains 31 of the 48 contiguous states, so a system-wide flood has national impact. At one point during the disaster, the river was one hundred miles wide and over thirty feet deep.  There were 40,000 refugees from one county alone, lined up on an eight-foot wide strip of levee.

Scientific in-fighting, political back-room deals, and social engineering - this book has it all.  This is not an “easy read”, but it is an excellent one.

Recommended by Ann M.

Posted in What West U Reads
Sept. 4, 2011

Lighting Tips - How to Light Up Your Home!

Lighting, Page 1 CroppedWhen preparing your home for sale, keep in mind these lighting tips, taken from a Ballard Design catalog, include some great suggestions on fitting shades and chandeliers to the furniture and rooms that they illuminate.  For example…

  • Add together the length and width of your room.  If your answer is 24 feet, then a 24 inch chandelier will be perfectly proportioned to the space.
  • Multiply the length and width of the room, and multiply the result by 1.5.  This number is the total wattage you will need to adequately light the room.
  • My personal favorite rule of thumb is that all chandeliers should be at least seven feet from the floor.  This allows tall people (like me!) to pass safely underneath.

A great-looking house is important in today's real estate market, so check out the “How To” section of the Ballard Design website, for more problem-solving decorating tips.

Roger Martin

Sept. 1, 2011

2633 Pemberton - SOLD in West University Place

2633 Pemberton Drive is a New England style home that was built in 1940 and updated in the 1990's.  Architectural details include alcoves, niches, crown moldings, plantation shutters, coved and vaulted ceilings, working fireplaces, a round window, and a bay window with a window seat.

Property Information

  • Sold For: $1,108,000
  • House Size: 2,674 sq ft
  • Lot Size: 9,450 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 3 or 4
  • Bathrooms: 2.5
  • Listed by Roger Martin
  • MLS #1,150.000


  • Hardwood floors
  • Island kitchen with granite
  • French doors and windows
  • Two-car garage with workshop downstairs and studio upstairs

>More Great West U Homes for Sale


Aug. 31, 2011

Housing Market Stabilizing

There are clear signs of the housing market stabilizing, both in our daily real estate transactions and in published economic sources. The following analysis is exerpted from an article by the Federal Reserve Bank of Texas.  The emphasis in the highlighted sections is mine.  TRM

Housing Market Stabilizing“…When will the housing market stabilize and support the economic recovery? We suggest that new home construction may stabilize and start recovering slowly within the next year or so. Our econometric results also indicate that national house prices may hit bottom late this year or in early 2012 and then recover slowly…

The most recent house price and construction run-up exceeded levels recorded during the 1990’s economic expansion, when unemployment rates fell even lower and income grew faster. Why is this? Standard econometric models [of supply and demand] … simply cannot explain the surging house prices and building seen in the mid-2000’s.

Our research suggests the missing factor is mortgage credit standards, which, with other factors, determine whether potential homebuyers qualify for a loan. More people qualified for a mortgage during the so-called subprime boom because lenders eased the minimum down-payment ratios, maximum debt-payment-to-income rations, minimum credit scores and other criteria…

During the subprime boom, construction of single-family homes surged to a high of 1.8 million units per year, far above the 1.1 million units required to cover population growth and physical depreciation of structures. Construction then collapsed, falling roughly 75 percent from the peak by mid-2009… [I]n June 2009, housing permits picked up somewhat, aided by a series of federal tax credit programs, many aimed at first-time homebuyers… Before expiring, these tax credits temporarily boosted home transactions, partly by shifting sales forward, although the housing market’s fundamental weakness remained…

Affordability has [since] improved, and the impact of the supply overhang may be overstated because deeply underwater and foreclosed homes are concentrated in a handful of states, including Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada. With job growth expanding in areas where less overbuilding occurred, housing starts will likely pick up in states such as Texas. Additionally, as the economic recovery continues, the pace of household formation is likely to rise, bolstering demand. On balance, many forecasters see single-family home construction recovering slowly to around 500,000 units next year from an annual rate of 400,000 in early 2011…

The housing sector contributes to gross domestic product growth directly via new home construction and indirectly through consumer spending. In the early and mid-2000s, the contribution was large. When the subprime bubble burst, housing exerted a substantial drag on the economy. The loan losses and increased uncertainty that accompanied the bust also slowed the economy by impairing the ability of financial intermediaries and securities markets to provide finance. Although the short-run outlook for the housing market is uncertain, it appears that new home construction and house prices at the national level will stabilize and start slowly recovering within the next year or so.”

Exerpted from When Will the U.S. Housing Market Stabilize? By John V. Duca, David Luttrell and Anthony Murphy, Feberal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Vol. 6, No. 8, August 2011.

Roger Martin

Aug. 30, 2011

Lost Dog!

Louie the Lost DogWe are looking for Louie who went missing on the afternoon of Sunday, August 28, 2011.  The City of West University Place always does an excellent job of finding and returning missing animals in our city, but Louis has apparently escaped them this time.

Louis is a German Shorthair/Labrador mix.  He has the pointed nose, short hair, and slim arched tail of the pointer side of his family.  He has the black coloring and flop ears of his Labrador relatives. Louis is ten years old - his snout is entirely white, almost back to his eyes.  He has white on his chest, and a touch of white on his paws.  Louis is a neutered male, medium in size, VERY friendly, and all his shots were updated on 6/9/2011.  He is the most intelligent dog we have ever owned, and full of mischief.  This little Houdini has managed to squirm his way out of every collar or harness we have ever strapped on him. Then he goes to town taking the collars off of other dogs.

Louis went missing from Mercer Street, in the City of West University Place. Our yard backs up to Poor Farm Ditch, which in turn feeds into Braes Bayou. If he went south, it is possible that he could go quite a distance along the banks of the bayous – which would also keep him away from traffic and major intersections.

Clearly, Louis is too old to meet the usual criteria for a cute, adoptable young animal.  So if you see a lost dog matching this description, PLEASE call me at 713-661-2300.


Roger Martin

Aug. 19, 2011

Tiny Boxwoods in West U – Now for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Tiny Boxwoods in West University PlaceOur newest West U restaurant, Tiny Boxwoods, is now in operation for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yay!  I have sampled the breakfast – our menu items were creative and delicious, especially the breakfast pizza.  The setting is serene and lovely, as one would expect from ace landscapers like Thompson + Hanson.  I look forward to trying Tiny Boxwoods new lunch menu.

Roger Martin

Posted in Where West U Eats
Aug. 19, 2011

3330 Las Palmas - SOLD in Highland Village

3330 Las Palmas #6 is a fabulous 1 bedroom, 1.5 bath upgraded condominium in Highland Village.  The home has two outdoor spaces - a rear courtyard with BBQ and bar, and a side yard.

Property Information

  • Sold For: $206,000
  • House Size: 1,046 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 1
  • Bathrooms: 1.5
  • Listed by Roger Martin
  • MLS #88795015
  • Garage: 2


  • Brazilian mahogany floors
  • bay window, crown moldings
  • Marble counters, cherry cabinets and stainless appliances in kitchen
  • Private courtyard and side yard

>More Great Highland Village Homes for Sale


Aug. 18, 2011

Neighborhood Watch - Burglary in Sunset Terrace

Neighborhood BurglaryOur inner city communities are well-policed and secure... Most of the time.  But it is important for us all to maintain a neighborhood watch on the homes in our communities.This photo, taken from TV Channel 13 on Saturday, shows a police officer at the scene of a local burglary. A friend of ours (another real estate agent) was leaving her home in Sunset Terrace to come to our office.  She never got here, because she stopped to report this burglary in progress at her neighbor’s house.

This is the second time that that particular home has been burgled this year, and there have been other similar incidents in the neighborhoods fringing West U.  The officers told our friend that an organized gang is responsible for these crimes.  The gang members ring the front doorbell – if no one answers, they jump the fence and kick in the back door.  So far, no one has been injured, but one gang member was caught on camera carrying a gun.

The customary safety of our neighborhoods can lull us all into a false sense of security.  Complacency is dangerous, so please be vigilant.  Call the police if you notice anything at all out of the ordinary.  They can piece together small clues (the color of a car, a partial license plate, a general make and model, etc) from multiple sources to make a coherent picture.

In addition to keeping a neighborhood watch, it is also a great idea to register on the City of West U’s website for their Code Red emergency notification program.  The City will notify you by email, phone or text if there is something dangerous happening in West U.  This security service is HANDS DOWN one of the best benefits of living in West U.

Stay safe!

Roger Martin

Aug. 18, 2011

Houston Neighborhoods in the News

Great Places to Live per CNNThree Houston neighborhoods have just landed on’s lists of great places to live.  On August 15, 2011, Deer Park placed tenth on the list of the 100 most affordable communities.  Reference was made to the good jobs available at the Shell refinery and to the “low crime rate, well-funded schools and slow pace.  ‘It’s Mayberry R.F.D,’” said Debbie Westbeld, the city’s Economic Development Administrator.

That same day, West U and Bellaire ranked 12th and 24th respectively among the 25 top-earning towns.  Mention was made of the great schools, parks and recreation facilities in the two cities.  It is worth noting that these two communities have both worked hard to update and approve their aging infrastructure.  It’s nice to see that somebody noticed!

To see the full articles on these Houston neighborhoods, click here:  Deerpark, West U, Bellaire.

Roger Martin

July 11, 2011

Roger Martin - HAR Top Producer 2nd Qtr 2011

Roger Martin, of Roger Martin PropertiesMany thanks to the Houston Association of Realtors, who has named me one of their 2nd Qtr 2011 Top Producers for my work with real estate buyers.  And additional thanks to all my great clients who made this award possible.

Roger Martin