Roger Martin and Life in the Loop

 

Sept. 23, 2010

3922 Villanova St - SOLD in West University Place

3922 Villanova is a traditional brick home close to Colonial Park.  There is an art studio/guest quarters with full bath and closet above the garage.  

Property Information

  • Sold For: $679,500
  • House Size: 3,264 sq ft
  • Lot Size: 5,000 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 4
  • Bathrooms: 3.5
  • Listed by Roger Martin
  • MLS #28128763

Features

  • New appliances and A/C
  • Master suite includes 2 cedar closets and 2 walk-in closets
  • Master bath includes marble counters, jetted tub and separate shower.

>More Great West U Homes for Sale

 

Sept. 21, 2010

First Time Home Buyer Assistance - That Has NOT Expired!

First Time Home Buyer AssistanceOf course there has been much press coverage about the expired federal first time home buyer assistance program.  But did you know that the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs has two STATE programs still in effect????

  • Their first program gives downpayment assistance and low-rate loans, and

  • Their second program (my personal favorite!) provides a tax credit of up to $2,000 per year over the life of the mortgage.

There are also special programs for persons and places affected by our recent hurricane, although the window of opportunity for that program is closing soon.  In any case, go to www.myfirsttexashome.com for more information.

Be aware that to qualify for first time home buyer assistance, the home, the loan, and the buyer must all meet stringent program qualifications.  This process takes time and effort, and may extend the length of time necessary to purchase a home.  The help of a really good real estate professional comes in handy when jumping through all these extra hoops!

Actually, one of us here at Roger Martin Properties has personally qualified for the tax credit program, so I can honestly state that we are in a position to advise on first time home buyer assistance programs.

Call us if we can help.

Roger Martin

Sept. 13, 2010

Hurricane Ike - Two Years and Counting

Hurricane KatrinaThe Texas Association of Realtors held their annual convention in Galveston this year.  Interestingly enough, the dates coincided with Hurricane Ike’s second anniversary.

Given the destruction caused by Hurricane Ike, I am astonished at the improvement in the City of Galveston.  True, a few buildings are still boarded up, and some are gone completely -- but overall, the city looks really great!  In fact, if I hadn’t seen the piles of trash and the blue tarps myself, I wouldn’t believe that a major hurricane had scored a direct hit here.

Galveston (and Houston, as well) are to be doubly congratulated.  It is easy to forget that we took a one-two punch that week.  It was in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike (and over a battery-powered radio to boot!) that I heard of the national subprime mortgage crash.  So our region's recovery (both phyically and economically) is twice as impressive.

Roger Martin

Aug. 31, 2010

Hurricanes - the Effect on Houston's Housing Market

Hurricanes and the Effect on the Houston EconomyWe Houstonians will always be proud of our response following the twin disasters of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. We rose to the challenge as a caring community and not as the impersonal mega-metropolis that our size might indicate.

Houston’s housing market easily absorbed the 240,000 people who were displaced by the storms.  An intriguing article on Forbes.com attributes out ability to house theses evacuees to our lack of zoning.

Marc Scribner said, “Thanks to the city’s liberal land-use policies, Houston enjoys lower real estate prices, increased availability of affordable housing, lower population concentration and more opportunities for entrepreneurs.  If not for these conditions, displaced Gulf Coast residents would have faced even tougher–and likely more deadly–challenges following the disaster.

“Zoning laws had put up artificial roadblocks to the construction of affordable rental units during the preceding decades in communities along the Gulf Coast.  This made homelessness even worse for low- to moderate-income residents after Katrina and Rita made landfall.

“In Louisiana and Mississippi, emergency temporary housing was zoned out of many of the worst-hit areas…”

He concludes, “A laissez-fair attitude toward land use is justified not only economically, but on humanitarian grounds as well.”

To read the full article, click here.

This is an interesting notion…. that Houston's lack of zoning lead to plenty of affordable housing choices, giving Houston the ability to house people displaced by the recent hurricanes.  And that influx of residents, in turn, gave Houston's housing market a boost.

Way to go Houston!

Roger Martin

Aug. 1, 2010

First Time Home Buyer Credit - Effect on Houston's Housing Market

First Time Home Buyer Credit
First Time Home Buyer Credit

 

The federal First Time Home Buyer credit program has just expired.  We real estate professionals saw an increase in sales from this program.  But was the effect of this program temporary or long-term?

A report from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas discusses the effects of the First Time Home Buyer credit program on Houston's housing market...

August 2010

"... Both new- and existing-home sales in Houston took a predictable dive with the expiration of the first-time-homebuyers’ tax credit.  The incentive pulled the usual strong summer sales figures forward into the spring, and its expiration left year-over-year sales of new homes down 35 percent in July and existing home sales down 25 percent. Builders anticipated the sales decline, leaving permitting of single-family homes quite weak and closely controlling inventories of spec homes..."

So in effect, the First Time Home Buyer credit program "borrowed" sales from future months.  These closings were accelerated to meet the program's deadline.  But the feeding frenzy dropped off when the program expired.  Was there a long-term effect on Houston's housing market?  I am doubtful.  When looking for long-range effects on the Houston housing market, I place more importance on the fundamental health of the Houston economy.  Houston's abiltiy to create jobs will have a larger and more lasting effect on our housing market than any temporary buyers assistance program.

Roger Martin

 

June 25, 2010

New Rec Center Pool for City of West University Place

State-of-the-art lap pool in West UniversityThe City of West University Place has just re-opened its two newest sports facilities – and boy, are they terrific!

This photo shows the new Recreaction Center pool.  The Rec Center, as it is known locally, is located at 4210 Bellaire Blvd.  The City purchased this property form the Southwest Family YMCA, which had occupied the site from 1947 to 2001.  Following renovations, the building and pool were re-opened by the City in 2004.  Unfortunately, damage from Hurricane Ike made the building unsafe, and the City was forced to tear it down.  That's the bad news.  The good news is that a municipal bond election in 2007 funded the redevelopment and expansion of the current Rec Center, which just opened in 2010.

The addition of a second neighborhood pool means that play-swimmers now concentrate at Colonial Park Pool.  The Rec Center's eight-lane, twenty-five-yard pool is reserved for adult lap swimmers, classes, and swim teams.  It is heated and covered year-round.  Large garage-like doors enclose the pool, and the doors are opened whenever the weather permits.  A glassed-in observation room allows visitors to watch the classes and swim meets.

Membership information and class schedules can be found on the City’s website at www.westu.org.  Or just call the Rec Center at 713-662-7420.

Roger Martin

June 25, 2010

West University’s New Colonial Park Concession Stand

Concession Stand at Colonial Park, West University PlaceIn 2010, the City of West University Place completed major renovations to two of its sports facilities.  This photo shows the newly-built concession stand at Colonial Park Pool (4130 Byron St.)

The concession stand at Colonial Park is run by the Edloe Street Café and Deli, which has long been a favorite “watering hole” in downtown West U.  Now, the most popular and kid-friendly menu items are available poolside as well.

Burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs and tacos are all on the menu, but what makes this concession stand unique is the delicious salads.  I especially recommend the Berry Salad, a light combination of greens, blue cheese, spiced pecans, pulled chicken and fresh strawberries, topped by a balsamic vinegar dressing.

And no trip to Colonial Park Pool is complete without a Cherry Icee!

Roger Martin

June 25, 2010

West University Place - New Colonial Park Pool

Colonial Park Pool has been re-designed for water-playOur local kids are all raving about the new neighborhood pool complex for West University Place.  Colonial Park Pool, located at 4130 Byron, has been newly-renovated in 2010 as a water-play feature!

When this was the only pool in West University Place all the lap swimmers, swim teams, swim classes, and free-swimmers were forced to compete for space in this one facility.  Not so any more!  The lap swimmers have all moved over to the new West University Place Recreaction Center at 4120 Bellaire Blvd.  This pool has been re-designed as our own enormous waterpark.

The pool is divided into several different areas, each with a different purpose.  A sun-bathing area with in-water lounge chairs separates the shallow end from the deeper water areas.  The shallow end includes a large climbing structure with several small slides and a bunch of water cannons.

Of course one of the deep-end activity areas is your classic diving board.  But in addition to the diving board, there is also a water slide and a climbing wall (shown above).  Another pool is dedicated especially to water sports (water polo or volley ball or basket ball or what have you).  The balls are supplied by the City.  There is also a lily-pad “bridge”.

The much-beloved shady and grassy areas have been preserved for picnicking, including the enormous deck under the live oaks.  Colonial Park also features a giant playground, a pavilion, and two lighted tennis courts.

And the concession stand – well, that’s another great story!

For pool hours and fees, visit the City of West University Place website at www.westu.org.  I can't think of a better way to beat the heat!

Roger Martin

June 18, 2010

Houston - Best Cities for Young Professionals

Houston named best city for young professionalsHouston has just been named one of America's best cities for young professionals, according to Forbes.com....

June 17, 2010

University valedictorians, overachievers and would-be entrepreneurs across the country graduated this month into a bleak economic landscape.  Faced with 9.5% national unemployment, even the most ambitious young people are thinking carefully about how to find their best shot at success.

Our advice? Consider moving to Houston, Texas, Washington, D.C., or Minneapolis, Minn. These three cities to Forbes' fourth-annual list of best cities for young professionals--places where ambitious college grads can get a strong start on a high-powered career."

Francesca Levy, www.Forbes.com

Yes, Houston is a job-creating engine, and it just keeps on.  To read the full article, click here.

May 29, 2010

Houston - a Model 21st Century City

Houston - a model 21st century cityAccording to Forbes.com, Houston is a model 21st century city...

June 7, 2010

Innovation, job growth and immigration put Houston ahead of New York and Boston

Do cities have a future? Pessimists point to industrial-era holdovers like Detroit and Cleveland. Urban boosters point to dense, expensive cities like New York, Boston and San Francisco. Yet if you want to see successful 21st-century urbanism, hop on down to Houston and Texas, the Lone Star State.

You won't be alone: Last year Houston added 141,000 residents, more than any region in the U.S. save the city's similarly sprawling rival, Dallas-Fort Worth. Over the past decade Houston's population has grown by 24%--five times the rate of San Francisco, Boston and New York. In that time it has attracted 244,000 new residents from other parts of the U.S. while older cities experienced high rates of out-migration. It is even catching up on foreign immigration, enjoying a rate comparable with New York's and roughly 50% higher than that of Boston or Chicago.

So what does Houston have that these other cities lack? Opportunity. Between 2000 and 2009 Houston's employment grew by 260,000. Greater New York City--with nearly three times the population of Houston--has added only 96,000 jobs. The Chicago area has lost 258,000 jobs. San Francisco 217,000, Los Angeles 168,000 and Boston 100,004.

Politicians in big cities talk about jobs, but by keeping taxes fees and regulatory barriers high they discourage the creation of jobs, at least in the private sector. A business in San Francisco or Los Angeles never knows what bizarre new cost will be imposed by city hall. In New York or Boston you can thrive as a nonprofit executive, high-end consultant or financier, but if you are the owner of a business that wants to grow you're out of luck.

Houston, however, has kept the cost of goverment low while investing in ports, airports, roads, transit and schools. A person or business moving there gets an immediate raise through lower taxes and cheaper real estate. Houston just works better at nurturing jobs.

It's not just smug coastal places getting smoked by Texas. Since the collapse of the housing bubble Houston has outperformed Sunbelt counterparts like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. A big factor has been that manufacturing, professional services, international trade and technology industries have been the primary drivers of the city's economic growth--rather than construction and speculation. Ironically, this has increased home values. Since 2007 prices of homes in Houston have ticked slightly higher, while those in Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and the Bay Area each are down by more than 35%.

Some traditional urbanists will concede these facts but then try to shift the focus to 'qualitative' factors: the best-educated residents, the highest salaries, the most expensive real estate. Although it also attracts a large number of low-skill migrants, Houston has considerably expanded its white-collar workforce. According to the Praxis Strtegy Group, Houston's ranks of college-educated residents grew 13% between 2005 and 2008. That's about on par with 'creative class' capital Portland, Oregon and well more than twice the rate for New Your, San Francisco or Los Angeles.

But Houston's biggest advantage cannot be reduced to numbers. Ultimately it is ambition, not style, that sets Houston apart. Texas urbanites are busy constructing new subrban town centers, reviving inner-city neighborhoods and expanding museums, recreational areas and other amenities. In contrast with recession-battered places like Phoenix, Houston remains remarkably open to migrants from the rest of America and abroad.

Houston, perhaps more than any city in the advanced industrial world, epitomizes the Rene Descartes idea-applied to the 17th-century entrepreneurial hotbed of Amsterdam--of a great city offering 'an inventory of the possible' to longtime residents and newcomes alike. This, more than anything, promises to give Houstonities the future.

Joel Kotkin, Forbes.com