Roger Martin and Life in the Loop

 

Feb. 11, 2010

Real Estate Communications - How Fast is Fast Enough?

Just like the pace of modern life, the expectation for real estate communications is getting faster and faster these days.  I noticed something fascinating in a recent study by the California Association of Realtors.  (For graphs and charts, etc. read the full draft report at www.car.org/media/pdf/159699/2009HomeSellerSurveyDraft.pdf).  Many customers are demanding a quicker response time from their agents.  Two-thirds of the respondents expected a response from their realtors in less than two hours, and a whopping 35% said that only an instant answer would satisfy them.

When asked to estimate actual response times, these sellers guessed that two-thirds of their agents responded in under four hours, with 9% responding instantly.

Now, I live and work in West University, where improper cell phone usage can get me ticketed by the West U cops – so I simply cannot offer you an instant response every single time!  However, I have plenty of safety nets to make sure I respond promptly to my customers.  Technology provides one fail-safe (my email and text messages roll over to my cell phone), and people provide the other (my fully-licensed assistant Jane can answer most questions on my behalf).

But there is another important question to ask:  Do you want a fast answer - or do you want an accurate one?  Please remember that it takes time to review complicated legal documents and calculations – and that careful review is in your best interest.  My personal preference is for real estate communications that include accuracy as well as speed.

(Sorry, I must end this post here – gotta answer the phone!)

Roger Martin

Jan. 22, 2010

West University Place Retains Small-Town Character

West University Place Retains Small-Town Character
Many thanks to the Houston Chronicle, who interviewed me for this article about real estate in the City of West University Place.

West U Retains Small-Town Character

January 22, 2010

Dartmouth, Georgetown and Rutgers -- Judging by the street names alone, West University Place is an accomplished community, and its not just monikers making this bedroom community popular. Despite being in the middle of the fourth largest U.S. city, West University Place has managed to remain a small town.

With a population of about 14,000 in 2000, West University Place also is referred to as West University and West U. Bounded by Kirby Drive to the east; Bellaire Boulevard and W. Holcome Boulevard to the south; Bissonnet Street along the north and west and Community to the west; West University Place boasts abundant green space and convenience to all Houston has to offer.

"This is a neighborhood that prides itself on knowing your neighbors, biking and walking to restaurants, and sitting on the bleachers to watch Little League baseball while enjoying a hotdog and soda," said Roger Martin, owner of Roger Martin Properties.

West University Place primarily is residential, though there is a downtown area with small shops and offices and with the established Edloe Deli as a focus. The self-sufficient city has a mayor and city council, police and fire departments, trash pick-up and utilities, and six public parks within city limits. Most of the area's commercial centers and nightlife are on the edge of town, including grocery stores, restaurants and bars.

The city plans to unveil a $13.8 million West University Recreation Center, Colonial Park swimming pool and a senior center early this year. Residents passed a bond to fund the project in 2008 and construction of the recreation center is expected to be complete in March. The recreation center will include a large, multipurpose room; several smaller rooms for classes and fitness activities, cardio and weight room, multifunction sports courts, and bathroom facilities with access to year-round swimming pool.

The Colonial Park pool and senior center are expected to be complete by May. The pool will include a zero-depth entry, interactive play features, toddler's slide, lily pad walkway, floating log, lounge and bench seating, and lap lanes. Deep-water amenities include a climbing wall, drop slide and diving board. The senior center will include two multipurpose rooms, poolside concession area, bathroom facilities with access to the pool and a park-side restroom.

Since there is not a 'typical' home in West University Place, buyers will find primarily single-family homes, patio homes and townhomes starting around $400,000 to more than $3 million. With more than 75 year of history, West University Place has older two-bedroom, one-bath cottages.

Resale homes are the primary mover in West U, with new-construction projects slowing. As of Jan 1 there are 185 properites on the market with 64 as resale, 22 rentals, five townhomes, 23 tear-downs, 32 new-construction homes and 11 lots.

Heather Nicholson, the Houston Chronicle

I am proud to be a resident of West University Place. This really is a great residential community.  To read the full newspaper article, click here.

Roger Martin

Posted in Life in West U
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.