Roger Martin and Life in the Loop

 

Jan. 1, 2010

Curb Appeal - Weeding Between the Lines

Proper landscaping contributes to curb appeal, a buyers first impressionThe cliche is true -- first impressions really do count in real estate.  The house itself is only part of that essential, early curb appeal. Landscaping can be crucial part of the first impression, working for or against your property.  Check out the entry to this home... dappled shade, comfy garden chairs, and bright "pops" of color.  All combine to create curb appeal for a potential buyer.

The next time you pull into your driveway, take a fresh look at the exterior plantings. Do they enhance your home?  Good landscaping flatters a home by providing a visual transition from the lawn and walkways to the house. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it does need to be well thought out and well maintained.

Yes, you need to weed. Tidy up that garden kitsch and yard clutter. Tackle the tangles. Take on the overgrown garden – and the worn spots.

If your landscaping looks dated, freshen it up, especially if you have updated your home’s interior. An inside job can be negated by what’s ignored outside.

Refreshing your landscaping doesn’t need to be massive, expensive or seasonal, it just has to be neat. Color helps.  So does a light feeding of fertilizer.

If you opt to overhaul your landscaping, accept that you live in a subtropical climate. Add shade and appropriate plantings, but let your house breathe. Landscaping planted too close to the foundation is a wick for termites and rot. Similarly, adjust sprinkler system heads so the spray doesn’t rot out windows or French doors.

In sum, plan well. A little landscaping can go a long way toward improving curb appeal. If you’re landscaping impaired, befriend a nursery.

And when you view your grounds, don’t forget the fences. Good fences do make for good neighbors, but only if they’re well-maintained.

Roger Martin

Jan. 1, 2010

Roger Martin - HAR Top Producer 4th Quarter 2009

Roger Martin, of Roger Martin PropertiesThanks to the Houston Association of Realtors, who has named me one of their 2009 4th Quarter Top Producers for my work with real estate buyers.  and as always, thank you to my wonderful clients who made this award possible.

Roger Martin

Dec. 4, 2009

Snow in West University Place

Yes, it DOES sometimes snow in West University Place, TX

Yes, sometimes (rarely!) it DOES snow in West University Place, Texas.

We Texans may not have a great deal of experience at winter weather -- but give us a brief snow flurry, and we can certainly figure out what to do with it!

Even if Mr. Snowman is only a foot tall!

Roger Martin

Posted in Weather in West U
Dec. 2, 2009

Tips for Home Sellers - Home for the Holidays

Holiday TableWith the holidays fast approaching, home sellers sometimes wonder whether they should take their properties off the market and wait until the season is over.
But one of my tips for home sellers is…  The holidays can actually be your best time to sell!

Here’s why…

  • During the holidays, only serious buyers are out there shopping for homes. Casual lookers are in the malls hunting for other things.
  • Corporate transfers often choose to move at the winter break, to minimize the disruption in their kids’ schooling.  So expect to see out-of-town buyers hunting for homes at this time of year.
  • Your home will never look better nor feel more welcoming. You’ve decorated and freshened in anticipation of visiting friends and family.  That wreath on your door?  In real estate lingo, we call that curb appeal.  Everyday clutter has been cleared away and replaced with holiday decorations.  Hey!  Your home is staged!
  • And how about them cookies! With all the baking going on, your home simply smells its “homiest” during the holidays.

With the hubbub of holiday preparations, showing your home can be inconvenient. We usually recommend that a homeowner leave home for showings. (The buyer is more comfortable talking to their agent if you are not there.) However, if you are preparing for a dinner party, most people are very understanding. Just wish them the seasons greetings, hand them a cookie, and ignore them while you do what needs doing!

Tips for Home Sellers: If you have a Christmas tree, putting an inexpensive $5 battery powered smoke detector in that room is a good idea.

Roger Martin

Dec. 1, 2009

Ten Thousand Villages - Commerce with a Conscience

Ten Thousand Villages offers commerce with a conscience

Ten Thousand Villages illustrates one of my favorite principals...  I have always practised double-duty gifting whenever possible.  For example, if I am serving cookies at a real estate open house – they might as well be Girl Scout cookies, right?

The same principles apply when shopping for gifts, jewelry, housewares, toys and stocking stuffers -- there is no better choice than Ten Thousand Villages at 2424A Rice Blvd.  Ten Thousand Villages is a non-profit retail store, carrying Fair Trade items from more than 130 artisan co-ops in 38 countries.  Men and women around the world all share the same simple dream – to earn an honest living, to provide for their children and to be gainfully employed in a job that brings dignity and joy. Ten Thousand Villages improves our world by partnering with thousands of talented artisans in long-term, healthy business relationships. So go to www.villageshouston.org to check out their baskets, ornaments, scarves, stationary and other reasonably-priced gift items.

Happy Holidays!

Roger Martin

Posted in Helping Others
Dec. 1, 2009

Houston Economy - Federal Reserve Update

Houston Economic Update - Federal ReserveThe Houston economy is so vibrant that The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas keeps an economist on staff here.  This article gives an interesting update on the state of our city.

December 2009

Houston at year-end showed clear signs of sustained economic improvement: Job losses continued to shrink, the unemployment rate fell slightly and the local purchasing managers were increasingly optimistic. Houston’s recovery is probably still trailing that of the U.S. economy by a few months, but the difference is narrowing, especially in local job growth. Stabilization and improvement in oil-related jobs have been key to these gains...

That's all good news for the Houston economy!

Roger Martin

Nov. 30, 2009

"The Help" by K Stockett

Besides the traditional family turkey, the other high point of my Thanksgiving weekend was a book called The Help by K. Stockett. These days, it seems I am the last one to hear of any good "reads", but this one was was gripping. It is sort of an upstairs/downstairs story set in Jackson, Mississippi during the civil rights era. The wonderful, brave women described in this story manage to overcome social injustice of both the racial and Jr. League varieties.

I highly recommend The Help by K. Stockett!

Ann Martin

Roger Martin Properties

Posted in What West U Reads
Nov. 1, 2009

Houston Economy - Federal Reserve Update

Houston Economic Update - Federal ReserveThe Federal Reserve reported on the state of the Houston economy...

November 2009

... Both new and existing home sales were up sharply in both September and October in Houston compared with 12 months ago. Local agents point to a definite impact on the local market from the new-homeowner tax credit, but it is difficult to judge how much it affected sales. Both September and October 2008 were heavily affected by Hurricane Ike and its prolonged aftermath, so this year’s 15–20 percent gain in sales is significantly exaggerated..."

To read the full article, click here.

Oct. 30, 2009

Civility - Is Our Nation Divided Against Itself?

A discussion of civility in politics

Civility - does it exist in our political process any more?  Is compromise now a dirty word?  Are we a nation divided against ourselves?  And if we are, what can we do to heal the widening breaches?  This week, I attended a lecture at the Rotary Club of West U (www.westurotary.org) that addressed exactly these issues.

Cassandra Dahnke, of the Institute for Civility in Government, believes that there are two key threats to a nation’s political health:

  • Apathy – evidenced by a lack of participation at all levels of government, for our neighborhoods to our Capitol, and
  • Polarization – the fragmentation of our society along lines of race, socioeconomic groups, religion, age, politics and special interests.

Any nation experiencing both polarization and citizen apathy is a nation seriously at risk.

Cassandra and the Institute for Civility in Government do not endorse any political candidate or position.  Instead, they promote the process of civil discourse by teaching civility training workshops, organizing congressional student forums, and taking groups of high school student to Washington DC to experience government first hand.  Through their activities, they promote listening and communication skills, the importance of teamwork, resources for building civility, and a respect for other belief systems.

So there is something we can all do!  For more information (or to join the non-profit, 501 (c)3 Institute for Civility in Government) go to their website at www.instituteforcivility.org.

Roger Martin

Posted in Helping Others, Rotary
Oct. 26, 2009

Juliette Gordon Low - Happy Birthday!

Brownies celebrate Juliette Gordon Lowe's birthday

We have all celebrated birthdays at Palace Lanes on Bellaire (see http://palacebowlinglanes.com/but this party was unusual -- the birthday girl was absent!   This annual gathering of 70 giggling girls was hosted by Evergreen Service Unit in honor of Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of Girl Scouting.

Juliette, nicknamed “Daisy”, was born in Savannah, Georgia in 1860.  It is easy for kids to remember her birthday, because it always falls on Halloween!  When Juliette Gordon Low was 26, she married a wealthy Englishman.  It was in England that she met Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouting.  When Juliette returned to Savannah, she started a similar program for American girls. Her niece was the first registered Girl Scout.

Juliette Gordon Low died of breast cancer in 1927.  She never had any children of her own, but the movement she founded continues to this day.  Girl Scouting has influenced over fifty million young women worldwide.

Thank you, Juliette Gordon Low ... and happy birthday!

P.S.  The chocolate fudge birthday cake from the new HEB Buffalo Market was absolutely awesome!  I highly recommend it.

Roger Martin