Roger Martin and Life in the Loop

 

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

Dec. 30, 2010

1509 Morse - SOLD in the River Oaks Area

1509 Morse is a classic Montrose brick bungalow, updated and expanded for modern living.  Vaulted master bedroom suite with fireplace is located upstairs.

Property Information

  • Sold For: $375,000
  • House Size: 1,777 sq ft
  • Lot Size: 5,250 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 3 or 4
  • Bathrooms: 2.5
  • Listed by Roger Martin
  • MLS #40703246

Features

  • Hardwoods
  • Two bedrooms down, Master bedroom upstairs
  • Updated kitchen with granite countertops and tile backsplash.  Island w/ jennaire cooktop.
  • Converted garage

>More Great River Oaks Area Homes for Sale

 

Dec. 13, 2010

Houston Shopping Ranked Best in Nation by Forbes.com

Houston Shopping Best In NationAlright, it’s official! Houston shopping is the best in the nation!  I guess that means that we Houstonians are the biggest Shopaholics in the USA!

Forbes.com has just ranked all the major metropolitan areas in the country for their retail savvy, and Houston topped the list.  Surprisingly, hot spots such as New York and San Francisco fell to the bottom of the list.

The ranking is based on amount of retail space, number of major malls, the Consumer Price Index, and the sales tax for each city.  In fact, a fourth of the retail shopping space in the US is located in Texas.  Here in Houston, we have a LOT of shopping space (both mega-malls and boutiques) and a relatively LOW tax rate.  The combination pushed us to first place.

To read the full story by Meghan Casserly of Forbes.com, click here. 

I am pleased to learn that Houston shopping opportunities lead the nation.  Yes, we Houstonians DO love to shop.  But the larger lesson is this... thanks to the strength of the Houston economy, we not only have plenty of retail choices, but we actually have the green stuff to go to the mall when we want to. 

Congratulations, Houston!

Roger Martin

Nov. 24, 2010

The New/Old Edloe Deli

Edloe DeliMy back-door neighbor, The Edloe Deli, has just reopened under new management.  Well, not exactly new – E.I. Thomas is the chef who has been running the restaurant and he and his wife Jill have now stepped up into an ownership position.

The Deli has been closed for a week so that everything could be freshened and re-organized.  I have seen past owners Janet Carter and George Boehme up here as the redo progressed.  Their input guarantees that the Edloe Deli will retain its unique ambiance and flair as the neighborhood’s “meet and greet” location.

The menu is a mix of old and new as well.  The Berry Salad is a favorite, and the Pulled Pork Sandwich is absolutely to die for.  Chef E.I. is working on some new items as well.  One of the first new additions is a gorgeous dessert menu, and there are rumors of a soft-freeze ice cream machine in the works.

So best of luck to the new venture!  We look forward to being your neighbors.  The restaurant's website is currently under construction, but for more information, go to www.edloecafe.com

Roger Martin

Posted in Where West U Eats
Nov. 20, 2010

Johnston Middle School - Blue Ribbon School

Kudos to the students and staff of Johnston Middle School!

The US Department of Education has named Johnston one of their “Blue Ribbon Schools” for 2010.  This award is the highest honor an American school (whether public or private) can achieve. 

Johnston was nominated by the TEA (Texas Education Agency) because of its improved performance.  In 2009, Johnston achieved a Recognized rating for the first time in the school’s history.  They followed these results in 2010 by achieving Texas’ highest rating of Exemplary. 

Principal Dave Wheat held a drawing amongst the Johnston Middle School staff, with the winners accompanying him to the awards ceremony in Washington DC.  Wheat made sure that the entire group trooped across the stage together to receive the school’s flag and plaque, “because we all did this as a team.”

Congratulations to all at Johnston Middle School for a job well done – and especially to Principal Wheat for his gracious and generous gesture!

Roger Martin

Posted in Our Schools
Nov. 3, 2010

Halo House Foundation

Halo House Foundation - Providing Residential Assistance for Cancer PatientsHalo House is something that needed doing – so some residents of West U made it happen!  Halo House Foundation provides residential assistance to cancer patients.

Of course, West U is located right next to the Texas Medical Center.  In fact, I’ve been told that we have more doctors per capita than any other city in the nation.  And many of them work in cancer research and treatment.

These dedicated professionals have seen their many of their patients struggle with life-and-death decisions.  Treatment at the Medical Center may be their best chance of survival – but staying in Houston for the length of those treatments can financially crippling.

Now we have Halo House Foundation, a brand-new 501(C)3 organization.  Halo House provides inexpensive furnished housing to lymphoma and leukemia patients.  They have just received a grant from the drug company Cephalon, and they plan to have their first patients housed in time for Christmas.

Here’s how you can help…

And if anyone has an un-used guest house or garage apartment, what about hosting a cancer patient and family?

Happy Holidays!

Roger Martin

Posted in Helping Others
Oct. 29, 2010

Housing Market - West University Place Report

So how IS the housing market in West University Place? A number of friends, neighbors, and customers have approached me recently.  They are concerned by recent newspaper reports that prices in West University Place are “down ten percent”.Well, sort of.

Since 2007, I have kept rolling average statistical reports for West U single family homes.  On a house-by-house basis, I find that most properties are worth now approximately what they were worth two years ago -- which is absolutely great in comparison to the horrendous price drops reported across the country.

The issue with our statistics is that the property mix being sold in West U has changed radically in response to the subprime mortgage meltdown.   Check out this chart...

Housing Market - West University Place - Age of HousesThe subprime crunch found West U with a large inventory of big, new-built “spec homes”.  These were liquidated as quickly as the market would allow.  In June, 2008 the average age of a home sold in West U bottomed out, reflecting the prevalence of these new home sales.  However, there were very few new homes coming on the market to replace them, because financing was difficult or impossible for builders to obtain.  Therefore, the average age of homes sold began to rise, and now exceeds its pre-crunch values.

The old house/new house issue shows up in the average price statistics as well.  While big houses dominated the market, the average price was high and vice versa.

Now let’s look at dollars per square foot…

Housing Market - West University Place - Ave Dollars per Square FtThe overall upward trend is clear.  It is also clear that from 2006-2008 there is a divergence above the trend line – representing the higher prices during the “spec home” boom.  Values have since returned more to their normal trend and begun to rise once again.

In fact, the total volume of real estate sold annually in West U has run between $200 and $250 million dollars a year for most of this decade – the exception being the “spec market” boom years of 2006 and 2007, when it was about $50 million dollars higher.   Remember that each “spec” home is really two sales – one for the original lot, and once again for the new-built home.  This explains, in part, the statistical double whammy that those sales had on the West U home market.

Housing Market - West University Place - Sales VolumeIn conclusion, it appears to me that the housing market in West University Place probably bottomed out in December, 2009.  Please be aware that “spec home” anomalies will continue to work their way through our statistical reports over the coming months and years.  However, right now the supply of homes on the market is actually tighter than I would prefer – which, in my observation, usually precedes an uptick.  Interest rates still remain historically low, which means that buyers can afford more house for their money.

The message is that the old adage (“location, location, location”) really works.  During a crunch, prime neighborhoods retain value better -- and recover faster -- than other areas.  West U is proving this point.

So if you are interested in selling your home – or if you want to discuss theses reports, please give me a call.  Or drop by for a cup of coffee and we can chat about the housing market in West University Place.

Roger Martin