Buyers, Buyers everywhere with little-to-nothing to buy.

February 11, 2013

It is déjà vu… All over again.

2013 is starting to look and feel a bit like 2007. Try to remember back to a time when buyers were abundant, inventory was scarce, interest rates were very good and lending requirements were forgiving.

2007 was a perfect example of a market that was totally skewed to one side, creating a true seller’s market, thereby limiting buyer choices and actions. There were very few new homes available and resale properties were flying off the shelves, often times with multiple offers just days or mere minutes after hitting the market. This naturally (or un-naturally) drove sales prices up, up, up so that our average annual appreciation rate of 4 percent shot upwards to 10 and 12 %.

Good news for sellers; bad news for buyers, right? In 2007, it was. But not so today, as we experience valuation problems with the remnants of the HVCC legislation leading to low appraisals (read more about HVCC).

So what is a seller to do? Price competitively but realize that even though you may receive many offers that push the sales price above your initial asking or list price, today’s appraisal process might not allow for the overage. Your Realtor should prepare an appraisal packet including information about any and all updates, valid comparable properties in the immediate area and details of the multiple offer situation. This is still no guarantee that the appraiser will review or consider the data, but it goes a long way to helping your property make value. Sometimes the other terms offered by buyers are more important than taking the highest price. Financing terms are crucial and often the type of financing being used by a buyer can be indicative of future potential appraisal problems. If presented with a cash offer, make sure to negotiate what will happen if buyer seeks an independent appraisal (not required with cash) and the property does not make value.

Yes, a seller’s market is exciting and good for neighboring homeowners’ property values. The only downside, other than potential low appraisals, is an inventory level so low that future buyers stay put because they have nowhere to move and nothing to purchase.

This means everyone is waiting for the next guy or gal to list. That would be such a pity when interest rates on a 30 year fixed are below 3.5 as of today. So go on, jump in the market… The water is warm and inviting.

Advice for Women Seeking Marriage

October 1, 2011

by Christi Borden   

Author Unknown but shared by Pattie Huey

If you want someone who will eat whatever you put in front of him and never say it’s not quite as good as his mother’s…

Then…Adopt a dog.


If you want someone always willing to go out, at any hour, for as long and wherever you want…

 Then…Adopt a dog.


If you want someone who will never touch the remote, doesn’t care about football, and can sit next to you as you watch romantic movies…

 Then…Adopt a dog.


If you want someone who is content to get on your bed just to warm your feet and whom you can push off if he snores…

 Then…Adopt a dog.


If you want someone who never criticizes what you do, doesn’t care if you are pretty or ugly, fat or thin, young or old, who acts as if every word you say is especially worthy of listening to, and loves you unconditionally, perpetually….

 Then…Adopt a dog.


BUT, on the other hand, if you want someone who will never come when you call, ignores you totally when you come home, leaves hair all over the place, walks all over you, runs around all night and only comes home to eat and sleep, and acts as if your entire existence is solely to ensure his happiness….  



Then…Adopt a cat!

(And you thought I was going to say… marry a man, didn’t you?)

Houston Area Water Restrictions – Updated 8/16/11

August 16, 2011

by Christi Borden


Municipality Lawns Address Times Allowed Days Allowed Pools Restricted
City of Houston Yes Even 8p-10a Su, Th No
City of Houston Yes Odd 8p-10a Sa, Weds No
Galveston Yes All None None Yes
The Woodlands Yes Even 8p-4a Even No
The Woodlands Yes Odd 8p-4a Odd No
League City Yes All None None Yes
San Leon Yes All None None Yes
Bacliff Yes All None None Yes
Kemah Yes All None None Yes
Clear Lake Shores Yes All None None Yes
Jamaica Beach Yes All None None Yes
Bayou Vista Yes All None None Yes
Omega Bay Yes All None None Yes


City of Houston

Residents at even-numbered street addresses can water their lawns on Sundays and Thursdays, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m. Residents with odd-numbered addresses can water on Saturdays and Wednesdays, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m.

Any detectable water leaks would have to be repaired within 72 hours.

Failure to comply with the restrictions could result in hundreds of dollars in fines.

The Woodlands

The Woodlands went from a Stage 1 to a Stage 3 drought contingency plan on Thursday. James Stinson, General Manager for the MUDs said, “Lawn watering restrictions are now mandatory.” Residents with a programmable water controller can water no more than twice a week and cycles must be complete by 4:00 a.m.”

Homes with even address are allowed to water only on even calendar days and odd addresses are allowed to water on odd days, and then only twice a week.


The city of Galveston has banned all lawn watering and car washing. Those wishing to wash their motor vehicles can do so on designated days before 10 a.m. or after 8 p.m. The designated days for areas east of 103rd Street are Mondays and Thursdays. For residents who live west of 103rd Street, their designated days are Wednesdays and Saturdays.

League City

League City enacted Stage 5 of the city’s drought contingency plan on Friday, implementing arguably the strictest of mandatory water restrictions in the Houston area. Residents in League City are banned from watering lawns, washing their vehicles and refilling their pools. The city has gone as far as prohibiting restaurants from serving water, unless requested. Residents caught violating the restrictions could be given up to a $500 fine.

Texas City

Irrigation of landscaped areas with hose-end sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems shall be limited to designated watering days and hours. However, irrigation of landscaped areas is permitted at anytime if it is by means of a hand-held hose, a faucet filled bucket or watering can of five gallons or less, or a drip irrigation system.

Even number addresses can water on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Odd number addresses can water on Mondays and Wednesdays between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m.

MUD 12, San Leon MUD and Bacliff MUD

No outdoor watering including for landscaping or car washing.



Galveston County — Other

Besides League City and Galveston, other cities in the county are also under mandatory water bans. Instituting the bans are Jamaica Beach, Texas City, the San Leon Municipal Utility District, the Bacliff Municipal Utility District, the Water Control and Improvement District 12, which covers Kemah and Clear Lake Shores and Municipal Utility District 12, which serves Bayou Vista, Omega Bay and old Bayou Vista. MUD 12 had not set a start date for the restrictions, which will ban all outdoor water use, according to a phone alert sent by the district.



Lunch with The Girls Through the Ages!

July 22, 2011

by Christi Borden

Unknown Author….

A group of 15-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner.
Finally, they agreed to meet at the Dairy Queen next to the Ocean View restaurant because they had only $6.00 among them and Jimmy Johnson, the cute boy in Social Studies, lived on that street.

10 years later, the group of 25-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the beer was cheap, the restaurant offered free snacks, the band was good, there was no cover and there were lots of cute guys.

10 years later, the group of 35-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the cosmos were good, it was right near the gym and, if they went late enough, there wouldn’t be too many whiny little kids.

10 years later, the group of 45-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the martinis were big and the waiters had tight pants and nice buns.

10 years later, the group of 55-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the prices were reasonable, the wine list was good, the restaurant had windows that opened (in case of a hot flashes), and fish is good for cholesterol.

10 years later, the group of 65-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the lighting was good and the restaurant had an early bird special.

10 years later, the group of 75-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because the food was not too spicy and the restaurant was handicapped-accessible.

10 years later, the group of 85-year-old girlfriends discussed where to meet for dinner. Finally, they agreed to meet at the Ocean View restaurant because they had never been there before.

Public Open House Etiquette by a Realtor!

June 24, 2011

by Christi Borden, Realtor

Who doesn’t love to visit an Open House? Come on, you know you do. Go ahead … admit it. You love to see the decorations, to peek inside your neighbor’s home (who never invited you over the entire time they lived there), to learn more about what homes are going for in your area, or to check it out before giving your Realtor a call.

Either way, there are a few bits of advice I can give while visiting a Public Open House.

1. Follow House Rules: Seller may wish for you to remove shoes prior to entering. This may be due to nasty weather, new flooring or a cultural preference. Just ask the Realtor or Host on duty if removing shoes is expected.

2. Monitor Your Kids: Homeowners really expect parents to stay with their children at all times and to make sure nothing is touched or damaged. I have seen many visitors arrive and while the parents are involved with viewing the home, their kids are all over the place – totally unsupervised. The Realtor or Host cannot be expected to babysit or to monitor visiting kids. Please, please keep them with you as the home could experience damage that you quite possibly could be held liable for.

3. Go Before You Arrive: I am often amazed at visitors asking to use the Seller’s bathroom. The Seller’s home is a private residence and as such, unless vacant and only with permission from the Realtor or Host on duty, should you assume that it is okay to use the facilities. Seller’s have prepared the home for viewing… not using.

4. Have a Realtor? Tell Us: You will be asked by the Realtor or Host on duty for your contact information. Sometimes our clients request this information, as they want to know who has visited their home. And many times, the Realtor on Duty would like to contact you to send you more information and to try to develop a future relationship with you. This is not a bad thing and can be very helpful for visitors that are not currently under a written representation agreement with another Realtor. But if you already have such a relationship with a Realtor, simply let us know who it is. We are happy to send them more information about the property you have visited. We all want to honor your relationship with your Realtor but cannot do so if we do not know about it. This is actually a Code of Ethics issue with the National Association of Realtors, which all Realtors must follow.

5. Tell Us What You Think: Don’t be shy… Are we priced right? Do we show well? Are you considering this home? If not, is there anything that our Sellers can do to make your short list? By providing such valuable feedback, you are helping us help our Seller know exactly what the public thinks about the home. And feel free to ask us questions. If we do not know the answer, we will do our best to find it. If answering your questions will help sell the property, we are more than happy to help.

As a Realtor, we love having you visit our Open Houses. In fact, that is why we give up our valuable family time on weekends… just for you. Help us make it pleasant for you and for our Sellers. Happy house hunting and support your local hardworking Realtor by visiting an Open House today!!!

In Honor of National Flip Flop Day…

June 17, 2011

by Christi Borden



Did you know today is National Flip Flop Day? What a great excuse to free your little piggy’s from their torturous entrapment and don your favorite flop. There is actually a history behind the celebration, of sorts and you will find out more than you could ever know about the lovable footwear on . With an ancestry going back to ancient Japan, Rome, Egypt, today’s flip flop has a solid and sordid past. Just check out how the hot babes of Rome would nail designs into the soles of their sandals to leave designs in the sand that would direct potential suitors their way. Hmmm…. perhaps a GPS chip could accomplish the same without the odd nail in the foot? 

My favorites, pictured above, are called Fit Flops and come in a huge array of blinged out designs. They are supposed to tighten the tushy but I love the stylish tops and the excellent arch support. They have replaced the immortal white tennis shoe when traveling abroad and are the first thing I put on when not wearing respectable “work” shoes.

So, in honor of the flop, put away your pumps, stow your stilettos, file away your flats, escape from your espadrilles and grab your favorite pair. Better still, send me photo and we can show our support for the National Flip Flop Day and happy feet!

Realtors (and Community) Helping Tornado Victims in Alabama!

May 12, 2011

by Christi Borden

Mendel Elementary Donations for Tornado Victims

Wow, what a fast and furious few days since this effort was first proposed. Collections continue to come into the many drop off sites around the City of Houston and surrounding suburban areas.

Calls in to the drop off points show a very enthusiastic and generous outpouring of love along with necessary items for our friends in Alabama who are today without everything they held so dear due to the terrible storms.

Quick mention that our first truck is headed east on Monday and will be hitting the pick up locations as early as tomorrow (Katy location to be specific along with other spots).  If you are planning to give and want to make the first relief transport, please consider doing so by tomorrow. If you need more time, do not worry. We have another truck in the works.

I wanted to post the photo above sent to me from Kathleen Cox, Principal of Mendel Elementary in the Aldine School District. Her team of dedicated staff members and her students gathered up this wonderful gift of much-needed school supplies and will be dropping this off at one of our receiving stations today or tomorrow. To Principal Cox, her Staff and Students… I know your gift will be very welcome and you will put a smile on the face of many students and their teachers in the stricken areas.

Do you have something you wish to give? Help us help them!

Thank you all for everything you have done… and you know who you are:).

Shakespeare Said…

May 11, 2011

by Christi Borden

Shakespeare's Philosophy for Life

Shakespeare said: I always feel happy, You know why? Because I don’t expect

anything from anyone, Expectations always hurt.. .Life is short… So love

your life… Be happy… And Keep smiling… Just Live for yourself and:

  • Before you speak »Listen
  • Before you write »Think
  • Before you spend »Earn
  • Before you pray »Forgive
  • Before you hurt »Feel
  • Before you hate »Love
  • Before you quit »Try
  • Before you die »Live

This is my personal philosophy for life and my secret to happiness.

This was shared on Facebook today so I do not claim to be the author. Thank you, Bill-Necmettin Erbil – wherever you are!

Sweet German Shepherd Available for Adoption!

May 7, 2011


German Shepherd Needs a Home!


The amazing people fostering this lovely pup unfortunately cannot keep her and may need to take her to a shelter. We would love to place her so that does not happen.

Do you know of someone who would love to welcome this sweetie into their home? Per Foster parents:  She’s absolutely adorable – very loving and playful. She doesn’t bite or even nip. She doesn’t seem to be afraid of people or loud noises or anything like that. Last night she slept right through the night with no problem at all. I have attached a photo so that everyone can see how sweet she is. I hope we can find a home for her.

Houston Realtors Helping Tornado Victims in Alabama!

May 3, 2011

The Houston Real Estate Community is coming together to help the Alabama Victims of the recent Tornado. We will have an 18-wheeler and driver deliver all donations to the storm victims in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Please help us help them!

The following items are needed order of priority:

  • Bottled Water
  • Snacks
  • Toiletries
  • Hand Sanitizer & wipes
  • Paper plates, utensils and napkins
  • Tarps
  • Canned food (including baby food)
  • New underwear (men’s, women’s, teen’s and children)
  • Diapers (both for infants and adults)
  • Batteries
  • Flashlights
  • Folding Chairs
  • Coolers
  • Clothing & Shoes
  • Bedding, towels, wash cloths


  1. Century 21 Hardee-Team Realty, 30310 Tomball Parkway Tomball TX 77375
  2. *Prudential Gary Greene – 23922 Cinco Village Center, Suite 123, Katy TX
  3. RE/MAX Hometown 7214 FM 1488, Suite 105, Magnolia, TX 77354
  4. Prudential Gary Greene 18477 W. Lake Houston Parkway, Suite 50, Humble, TX 77346
  5. Princeton Classic Homes 18018 Darling Point Drive, Cypress, TX 774…29
  6. Keller Williams Pearland – 2734 Sunrise Blvd., Suit 208, Pearland TX 77584
  7. Realty World First Choice 18121 FM 306 Canyon Lake, TX. 78133 
  8. RE/MAX Integrity – RE/MAX Integrity.19510 Kuykendahl , Spring TX 
  9. Keller Williams Professionals 8101 Cypresswood Drive, Spring TX
  10. Great American Title (Galleria), 1535 West Loop South #115, Houston, Texas 77027
  11. Texas American Title – 4610 Sweetwater Blvd. #100, Sugarland, TX 77479
  12. Texas American Title – 2000 Bering 10th floor, Houston, TX 77057
  13. Startex Title Hwy 6 N. 8711 Hwy 6 N.,Houston, Texas 77095
  14. Register Real Estate /advisors – 1614 Louetta Rd. – Spring, TX 77388
  15. Prudential Gary Greene – 1939 W Gray St # 100, Houston, TX 77019
 *For those of you near Katy, TX, our drop off location is: Prudential Gary Greene – 23922 Cinco Village Center, Suite 123, Katy Monday – Saturday (10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) Sunday (12:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.).

Call me if you need directions – 832-372-7470. We thank you so much for your donations… it will make a difference in the lives of those affected by the recent storms.

Risotto Milanese… ala Christi

May 2, 2011

by Christi Borden

As promised, this is my version of Risotto Milanese or Milan-style. What makes it Milan-style? I believe it is the addition of Saffron and cheese but perhaps someone wiser than me can answer that question. Regardless, this is my version and I stand by it.

  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 2 Shallots (finely chopped)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, (minced)
  • 1 Cup Abrorio Rice (there is no substitute)
  • 5 Cups Chicken Stock (homemade is best but Swanson’s will do)
  • 1/2 Bottle Dry Italian White Wine (again, use a quality that you would drink. If it is not good enough to drink, it is not good enough to cook with).
  • Pinch of Saffron (expensive but worth it)
  • 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese (freshly grated, not the sawdust stuff in the green bottle)
  • 1 TBS Butter
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

First, Combine stock and wine in a microwave container and heat for 5 minutes. The secret to successful Risotto is adding heated liquids to the rice as you go along instead of shocking the rice with cold liquids and not fully releasing the starches that make this dish so deliciously smooth and delightful.

Second, heat oil over medium/high and saute garlic and shallots for 1 minute (careful not to burn garlic). Add dry rice and saffron, and stir for about 30 seconds to warm and to coat with oil.

Now, the magic of risotto begins: Add enough liquid to cover rice by about 1/2 inch, and constantly stir over medium heat until liquid is almost gone. Continue adding more liquid and stirring mixture until rice is al dente (gives slightly when biting but almost cooked through) and creamy. This takes about 20 minutes or so.

Helpful Hint: I stir about every minute so grab a book and the glass of chilled wine and hunker down. If you walk way and do not stir properly, you will not be happy with the results and may burn your rice. Believe me, the results are worth the effort here.

After rice has reached the perfect consistency, remove from heat and add cheese, butter and salt (check for this as the cheese, butter and stock all add salt so it may not be necessary) and fresh black pepper to taste.

There, your Risotto is done and is the perfect dish to serve as you would pasta or potatoes. I sometimes add baby bello mushrooms to this dish but it will change the color and flavor to create a delicious but less delicate side.

E squisito!

I hope you enjoy this as it has become a family favorite!

Christi’s 100 Clove Garlic Chicken Recipe

April 27, 2011

Garlic is a Gift for the Soul!

by Christi Borden

By request from my friends, I am happy to share one of my kids favorite recipes. Okay, before you start gasping, this is delicious and the garlic is very mild when prepared according to the recipe. This was adapted from a recipe from The Stinking Rose Restaurant in San Fran… go there if you ever get the chance.


  • 10 to 12 chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 5 cups Chicken Stock (homemade is best but Swanson’s is next to best thing)
  • 1/2 bottle of good dry white Italian Wine (Rule of Thumb is do not cook with it if you would not drink it:)
  • 40 to 100 or more peeled garlic cloves (easy when purchased in pre-peeled pack).
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup Heavy Cream
  • Fresh Rosemary
  • 3 TBS Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt/Fresh Ground Black Pepper

First, lightly salt and pepper chicken and brown in heated oil in a large flat skillet. Remove from heat when golden brown on both sides but not cooked. Add garlic to oil and constantly stir for about 5 minutes to coat with oil and lightly brown/roast garlic cloves. Pay special attention not to brown or burn garlic. Add rosemary and chicken back to pan and cover chicken with broth and wine. Lower heat so that it bubbles gently, cover and cook for 45 minutes.

Remove chicken to plate, raise temperature and cook broth/wine mixture for 10 minutes on High to reduce. Place reduction into blender and very carefully blend garlic/broth mixture. Use caution when blending hot liquids – use the toggle switch to turn on very briefly and then allow pressure to be released through lid so that you are not scalded by this mixture under pressure.

Return to pan after thoroughly blended, add cream to taste, cook gently on medium until thoroughly blended and thickened. Return chicken to sauce and you are done! I serve this with Risotto Milanese (will share that one next) and a fresh salad or green vegetable. Your family will love it and you will not have to worry about Vampires for weeks!


Who cares? It is that yummy!

Do you know Sophia? Found Dog in Katy, TX.

March 30, 2011

Sophia - Found in Katy, TX

As you know, I post information on lost and found pets in the Katy, TX area. This is from the kind lady who found her.

“Here is the dog that followed my father home today (my parents are visiting Texas, and my dad was walking over by the elementary school on S. Peek Rd in Katy). 

Sophia followed him home this morning, and has claimed our family.😉 She is obviously still a puppy.  She has one blue eye and one brown eye, pink above her nose, and is loving and affectionate.  She has a heart shaped trinket on her collar that says “Love”, and “Sophia” is embroidered on her collar (along with a tag on her collar that has “Mimi Green” embroidered on it).  We just found out that Mimi Green is the designer for the collar, if that helps.

Thank you for your help.  My phone number is 281-347-0572.”
Lisa Goff

Home Seller: Your “To Do” List Prior to a Home Inspection.

February 22, 2011

by christiborden

Home Inspection Approaches

So you finally have a contract on your home. Congratulations! Now, your buyer has ordered an independent inspection. Believe me, this is a good thing. When so many real estate transactions end in court due to disclosure items, inspections are a wonderful way for both parties to be aware of the condition of the property and hopefully resolve any such issues up front. You should applaud a buyer that thinks enough of his investment to hire an inspector. I am always worried about buyers who don’t. In fact, I would rather not represent a buyer that declines to inspect, even new construction.

Even though it is probably too late to make major repairs prior to the inspection, there are some things a seller can do to help the inspection go well for both parties and most of these items are simply the little nagging, honey-do type of things that we, as homeowners, tend to get used to and ignore.

  • Let there be light: Check all light bulbs and replace those not working. An inspector is not going to test the fixture itself but may call it as a deficiency and recommend that it be examined by a licensed electrician. Quite a costly repair for a blown bulb.
  • Water, water everywhere: Repair any leaking faucets, water fixtures, irrigation systems, etc. If you do not know how to do it, hire a plumber. If you are aware of rotten wood on the exterior of your home, this is usually flagged for repair.
  • Heating, Cooling and More: How long has it been since your systems have been serviced? How long has it been since you changed your filters and cleaned your vents? A well-maintained home will shine at an inspection, helping you and your buyer keep the transaction together.
  • Access to your home: Make sure there is access to your breaker box, the heater/air conditioner, water heater, etc. If your personal belongings block these important items, the inspector will not inspect it causing the buyer to either accept an incomplete inspection, having to pay an additional fee for a further inspection or he may just pull out of the deal completely.
  • Disclose, Disclose, Disclose: Please click here to read my past blog about your responsibility as a Seller to disclose. This is not something to take lightly or to ignore. If you know about it something that you, as a buyer, would want to know about a property, disclose. Even if you have made a repair, it is required to let them know the issue existed.

That should get you started on your way to having your property ready for the inspection. If you have questions about this or other items, contact your Realtor or your real estate attorney for advice regarding the inspection report and repairs. Also, in the State of Texas, you are required to disclose this and any other property inspection performed within the last four years and must note same on the Seller’s Disclosure Notice.

I hope this has helped you and wish you a safe and stress-free journey toward your closing.

Disclaimer: My name is Christi Borden. I am a licensed real estate agent in the State of Texas and a member of the National Association of REALTORS. As such, I adhere to a strict code of ethics and all laws with regard to equal housing, which is reflected in the content of this blog. My broker is Prudential GARY GREENE, REALTORS, 23922 Cinco Village Center, Suite 123, Katy TX 77494. My TX Real Estate License number is 0517398. All of the opinions in this blog are mine, unless otherwise noted.

All for the love of a Dog!

February 21, 2011

by christiborden

Macie, The Wonder Mutt

Our loving Macie who died 2/20/2011

Day one after my sweet loving companion has forever left my side and I am slightly numb. Day two and it promises more of the same.

I still walk gently in the dark to avoid stepping on her. I still wait for her to peek around the corner to see what I am up to. Cats had nothing on her curious nature. My daily routines so wrapped around her needs that I must now reorganize my day. Every little task, a memory of her. Something so simple as pouring that first cup off coffee…her signal that it was time for her treat and a walk to her lake. Pavlov’s theory in full force, although I am not quite sure I wasn’t the one being trained to respond.

Amazing how much our lives become entrenched with those of our pets. When the kids flew the nest, the dog and I developed our “you and me, pal” attitude to get through our day. We eventually settled into a comfortable partnership that filled the void left by their departure. We both loved when our boys and their smelly friends blew in for weekends and holidays. The house then filled up again with laundry, fun and laughter. She would give me that knowing look that said, “ah, this is as it should be”. Both of us sad to see them go but also content with a home at peace.

Quiet… now it is all too quiet and suffocating. I know this will pass. I welcome the day when I can replace the searing pain of loss with the sweet joy of memory. I know in my heart that she was loved and returned that love completely. I know she is not in pain. I know that if dogs have souls, hers is shining above with a bright light, a wet nose and a wagging tail. And for her brief time on this earth, I thank God that I was her Human.

Social Media… Manners Matter!

February 19, 2011

by christiborden

Social Media Sandbox

Where is Emily Post when I need her?

In the time before Social Media, long before Facebook and Twitter, we all knew or should have known the rules of engagement. Someone holds out their hand; you shake it. A stranger smiles at you on the street; you smile back. A woman stands next to you on the bus; you render your seat. Someone sneezes; you bless them. When so many of our relationships now exist outside of the physical world, how do we translate the old rules for today? And have they really changed?

I read a great post by Erica Johnson addressing the etiquette of “commenting” on blogs (read here), which led me to ponder (as I often do) about other areas where we may all need a little direction.

Facebook: Stop the sales pitches, please. I love my many friends on Facebook, but I have painfully started to “de-friend” them when the only thing they bring to the conversation is a sales pitch. Imagine attending a cocktail party and starting in on the “pitch” the second you are introduced to a stranger. No…we strike up conversation, find common ground, add to the discussion and then maybe, if invited, hand them our card and tell them what we “do”. Real life rules apply here, too.

Twitter: See comments above. The sales pitches are even more annoying when squeezed into 140 characters. I think Twitter is best used to share information with like-minded followers. Yes, we can link to our blog or web site. But let the follower decide to follow instead of ramming our business/service/product down their throat with every Tweet. And please turn off the auto-responder. I would rather hear nothing than a canned comment (which usually includes a sales pitch).

IM: How in the world do we end a conversation politely? On the phone, I can say “I have to go, good-bye” and hang up.  But online where they can see I am still “there”, how do I tactfully let go? I end up saying goodbye at least 5 times before the connection is severed. I welcome comments here because I have not yet figured it out. Also, can we in good grace ignore a Facebook IM when we are otherwise engaged? Oh, the guilt…

Games: While I am not a big game player, I do enjoy the faux Scrabble Words with Friends. I recently had someone I know well “decline” to play me. Gasp? So, does this mean right now or forever more? Did I do something so heinous that I have been permanently banished from their Scrabble world? Don’t worry, I can still sleep at night but perhaps an explanation would have been nice rather than… “Declined”. Ouch:).

Frankly, I see Social Media as a huge sandbox filled with lots of wonderful, interesting kids all trying to get along and play together. Some follow the rules and some do not.

How well do you play with others?

Top # 10 books for Real Estate

February 14, 2011

I recently participated in a panel of peers speaking on the subject of what we, as full-time, residential real estate agents, were doing to move our business forward in a challenging business environment.

Part of my presentation on the panel was sharing books that contribute to my successful journey in this crazy world of real estate and for life in general. I thought I would share it with a broader audience and ask for your opinion of books that I can add to my shelf of knowledge.

My Current Favorites:

Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands by Terri Morrison and Wayne A Conaway. A fabulous guide-book for anyone working with international clients. While you may need more in-depth information for a specific client, this book helps you understand the decision-making process of different cultures and may help prevent a critical yet innocent faux pax.

Hard Optimism by Price Pritchett. This is a small, concise, easy-to-read booklet that gets to the heart of what is necessary to be truly optimistic. I keep a copy in my car to read when I find myself with a few moments of down time. I also have several copies on my shelf that I loan out and have given away.  Whether you are in real estate or not, it is powerful and I recommend it highly.

E-Myth Revisited by  Michael E. Gerber . This book helped me to see the difference between the “job” and the “entrepreneurial” mentality, which is crucial to success not only real estate but in any business venture. If you behave like an employee, you will never be the boss. And in real estate, you must rise to the position of boss or fail. While it is a little dry in places, this book has a powerful message.

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy. If procrastination is your thing, you need to buy this book today.. no not tomorrow, TODAY. This is short, sweet and to the point. If there is a job you need to do but tend to put off, this book is for you. 

How to List and Sell Real Estate by Danielle Kennedy with Warren Jamison. This was my first introduction to real estate prospecting. In my freelance court reporting past life, I was very familiar with how to attract clients but Danielle helped me focus on the particlar business at hand. Timeless advice for an ever evolving business.

The Tech Savvy Real Estate Agent by Galen Gruman. Although written with the agent in mind,  this book has great technology advice and information that many businesses could benefit from reading.

The Millionaire Real Estate Agent…. by Gary Keller, et al. A well-written book that focuses not only making money but it is one of the most information-packed and practical guides to starting and maintaining a successful a real estate business.

Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. A great book that is not directed at real estate but has provided great insight into marketing strategies that will “stick”.

Exploiting Chaos… by Jeremy Gutsche. Again, a non-real estate specific book but chock full of powerful strategies for thriving in a chaotic economic crisis.

Swanepoel Trends Report and Swanepoel Social Media Report both by Stefan Swanepoel. I always follow this yearly report on trends and market leaders. It provides me with insight into where our industry has been and where it most likely is headed.

101 Technology tools for Business on the Go by Shannon King and Melissa Dittman Tracey. A wonderful quick read sharing tools that every real estate road warrior will want to have. (I had the chance to meet her in Austin this week and she is terrific).

How about you? Read any good books lately that have helped you in your business?

Superbowl … A Lesson in Living The Dream!

February 5, 2011

Today is Superbowl Sunday and, like everyone else, I have my mind on the game. However, it isn’t the game but the athletes themselves that interest me. Okay, the commercials, too but that is best left to another post.

I love learning about their individual stories and how they made it here. How they started playing the game as little boys, and continued to define their strengths, refine their skills, and struggle through years of injuries, hardship and courage to become these men at this time in history. Amazing, when you when you think about it.

Consider the immense number of people in life who start playing, training or studying to prepare for their desired area of expertise, and then consider the number who actually make it. What are the odds? What makes the difference? What is it that gets them from novice to Superstar while others, with similar talents, flounder instead of flourish?

Training: They are always training and have been since they first picked up a ball. I can tell you that the Ben Roethlistberger’s and Aaron Rodger’s of the world never stopped training once mastering their talent. In fact, they never believe it to be fully mastered.

Tenacity: They never give up. Injuries may sideline but still they press on. Even to their physical detriment, they continue to play with broken bones, bruised muscles (and egos), rain or snow, heat or cold. Something deep within drives them to continue when others are given the permission to rest.

Coaching: Every single professional has a coach and this is not limited to sports. The gifted require this external element, whether they are writers, actors, singers, and even Realtors (my field of play). A coach is someone who can clearly see where the athlete needs to be and knows how to get him there. He studies the the strengths and weaknesses and creates a plan of action that is specific to that individual. There is no one-size-fits-all! They develop a continuous push/pull dynamic to their relationship. The coach provides the roadmap, monitors the progress and constantly encourages, presses, cajoles, maybe even threatens to ensure action. An effective coach will not fall for excuses or procrastination. If the athlete is tough, the coach must be tougher.

Desire: They can see it, taste it and smell it, even when it exists only in their mind. What might seem daunting to most will only feed this desire further. Ask a true believer what their goal is and you will be astounded by dreams that appear unattainable at best and possibly even bordering on delusions of grandeur. Could it be we lack the belief system and vision to go there or maybe we never had it in the first place? There are no self-induced limits on their ability to achieve… and what they lack, they go back to the first three items above and create it, fix it or improve it.

So while you watch the game today, pay attention to the back-ground stories that the media uses to fill dead air time. Listen to proud parents as they portray their son’s childhood. Ask yourself; what was unique about the seed planted in the “Sapling” of the kid that helped him grew into this mighty “Oak” of a man? If you took a poll of each player on the field and asked what he wanted most as a kid, he will tell it is today. It is this one moment in time. It is to play in the Superbowl!

Win or lose, they are all champions and should be honored for truly “Living the Dream”!

Hate Not Your Weatherman!

February 4, 2011

Okay, so everyone today is calling for the heads of our “Weathermen” in Houston, TX for the daring prediction of up to 5 inches of snow and ice, urging that it would be impossible for schools, businesses and every living soul in Houston to get anything done today. Hunker down, they cried!

And we, the citizenry of Houston, listened and obeyed. We made alternative working arrangements. We closed our schools. We cancelled all manner of plans. We hit the local HEB in droves seeking emergency supplies to wait out the impending storm. And we woke up today to … nada. Birds singing, sun shining, grass unbelievably green without a trace of winter’s touch.

Oh, the anger expressed amongst our most vocal at the inconvenience and disappointment of it all.

But let’s take a moment to appreciate the plight of our poor local Meteorologist. Day in and day out, the only other forecast they get to make (other than the occasional hurricane where the national boys step in and take over) is: “Today, it will be partly cloudy, hot, and humid with a 35% chance of precipitation”.

So when they finally got a chance to break free and deviate from the norm, who can blame them for going at it with gusto? Who can blame them for their one moment of passionate and unbridled spontaneity in what must be one of the most monotonous occupations in the world?

So to you, Mr. “I better figure a way to cover my back side on this one” Weatherman, we in sunny and dry Houston salute you!

A.A.A.D.D. – Know the Symptoms… Please Read!

February 3, 2011

Thank goodness there’s a name for this disorder.
Somehow I feel better even though might have it!!

Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. –
Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.

This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden.
As I turn on the hose in the driveway,
I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.

As I start toward the garage,
I notice mail on the porch table that
I brought up from the mail box earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.
I lay my car keys on the table,
put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table,
and notice that the can is full.

So I decide to put the bills back on the table & take out the garbage first..
But then I think, since I’m going to be near the mailbox
when I take out the garbage anyway,
I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my check book off the table,
and see that there is only one check left.
My extra checks are in my desk in the study,
so I go inside the house to my desk where
I find the can of Pepsi I’d been drinking.

I’m going to look for my checks,
but first I need to push the Pepsi aside
so that I don’t accidentally knock it over.
The Pepsi is getting warm.
I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold..
As I head toward the kitchen with the Pepsi,
a vase of flowers on the counter catches my eye..
They need water.
I put the Pepsi on the counter and
discover my reading glasses that
I’ve been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk,
but first I’m going to water the flowers.
I set the glasses back down on the counter,
fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote
someone had left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV,
I’ll be looking for the remote,
but I won’t remember that it’s on the kitchen table,
so I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs.
But first I’ll water the flowers.
I pour some water in the flowers.
Quite a bit of it spills on the floor.
So, I set the remote back on the table,
get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day:
the car isn’t washed
the bills aren’t paid
there is a warm can of
Pepsi sitting on the counter
the flowers don’t have enough water,
there is still only 1 check in my check book,
I can’t find the remote,
I can’t find my glasses,
and I don’t remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done,
I’m really baffled because I know I was busy all day,
and I’m really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem,
and I’ll try to get some help for it, but first I’ll check my e-mail…..

Do me a favor.
Forward this message to everyone you know,
because I don’t remember who the  heck I’ve sent it to.

(The author is unknown to me as this was shared by a friend, thanks John. If you wrote this, please let me know so I can give you credit… that is if you can remember writing it in the first place).

Katy, Texas: How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count the Ways!

January 31, 2011

I am fortunate to live and work in the sprawling western Houston suburb known as Katy, TX, recently recognized as the top community for growth in the Nation by the Gadberry Group. Click link to read more…

There are obvious reasons for my statement and a few that are not-so-obvious:

1. Location, Location, Location: Close proximity to the Energy Corridor, a major area for our top employers. 

2. Terrific Schools: Just search to see what our school district and individual campuses have to offer to our residents and their children. (As the mother of a National Merit Finalist and a Semi-Finalist, I can personally attest to the effectiveness of the administrators and their staff.) Thank you Katy ISD!

3. Cost of Living: We still have lots of available land for building and labor is fairly inexpensive so housing is affordable. However, our property taxes tend to be a high but keep in mind Texas does not have a State Income Tax so our property taxes are used to fund our great schools.

4. (Relatively) Easy Commute: Traffic, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and it depends on what you consider an easy commute. Face it, Houston loves its vehicles so the traffic will always be with us. However, with the completion of the I-10 expansion and the Westpark Tollway completion, there are several avenues for timely travel into Houston and beyond. I know some people do not want a commute and are willing to pay higher homes prices to live closer in and perhaps sacrifice a bit on the schools but our many residents feel that the trade-off is worth it.

5. Great Communities: There are so many different neighborhoods available to a home buyer in our area. I tend to call them “communities”  because some of them are larger than many small towns. In fact, Cinco Ranch is currently the number one new home selling community in entire country and has recently acquired 500 additional acres to continue its growth. Katy offers many other terrific choices such as: Grand Lakes, Firethorne, Cross Creek Ranch, Seven Meadows, Kelliwood, Grayson Lakes and more. Our developers have thoughtfully designed and completed their communities with the homeowner in mind. With careful presentation of commercial/retail, beautifully landscaped common areas, abundant resort-style amenities (golf, pools, tennis, hike/bike trails, lakes, etc.), our residents can feel secure that they have made a wise choice with regard to their families’ enjoyment and potential resale value.

6. Quality of Life: Katy offers a true, small town experience with big city features. We have great dining, shopping, and entertainment opportunities for everyone of all ages. We are thrilled to be the lucky recipient of abundant medical care, including but not limited to the new Medical Center’s West Campus: Texas Children’s Hospital, Methodist Hospital, Hermann Memorial Hospital, Christus St. Catherine Hospital and the MD Anderson Radiology Center.

7. Diverse and Interesting: Our area is truly representative of the world’s population. As the destination of choice for most expatriates moving here with their energy sector jobs, you will love our multi-cultural make-up. Our kids grow up with friends from all over the world and so many international buyers (drawn here because of our schools), develop strong ties to our community. I know on my street alone we have residents representing: US, Canada, Africa, India, Russia… and this is one street.

8. Family: Katy is family centric and is a place where you can finally stop, unwind and relax with the ones you love. This is a place where people gather to enjoy everything that a true “community” can offer.  

9. Spirituality:  At one time, this area was known as the “City of Churches” and offers a place of worship for everyone, regardless of your faith.

10. Friendly Residents: I have lived all over US and abroad and can attest that I am living in one of the friendliest places on Earth. This could be one of the reasons so many people keep moving back to Katy, TX. When a family moves away, chances are … they will be back.

Why not drop by and check us out. You just might love it and never want to  leave. For more information, please visit my website .

See you in Katy!

What if I Build a Blog and Nobody Comes?

January 27, 2011

Does this go through the mind of anyone thinking of beginning a blog? It goes through my mind, still…

I have developed a newfound passion and respect for blogging and bloggers, brought about by a longtime, secret desire to write, the knowledge that it might actually be good for my business and a challenge by blog creator, Who knew a silly online challenge would unleash the writer within?

I am now a true believer and crusader for the power of the blog. I also make every effort to follow other writers to learn more about this exciting craft and have discovered there is a lot more to it than simply throwing words on a wall and hoping they stick.

If there are so many great reasons to do it, why don’t more people try it. And for those of us who do, why aren’t we doing a better job? While getting started seems to be the hardest part, in reality, it is consistency or rather the lack of consistency that trips us up.

So you want to start a blog? Great. Welcome aboard. First, you come up with a title, pick out a theme … now what? Some will plow ahead unhindered by fear or hesitancy, while others will end up staring at a daunting online dashboard, paralyzed with indecision and frozen from elbows to finger tips, unable to render a single word. Sound familiar?

I started with no plan at all. I was meandering from thought to thought and this approach helped me get into the habit of writing. I could continue along this path but I realize to obtain relevancy and longevity, my blog and my thoughts require focus. To help develop your own, draw a wagon wheel on a sheet of paper or on the first page of your blog journal. If you do not have a blog journal, get one. This a great way to capture the white-hot streaks of ideas that race across your consciousness and eventually become seeds for your posts.

Now, write down the focus or main theme of your blog in the center, and add related subjects or topics at the end of the spokes, throwing in a few that may not relate to the central story you are trying to tell but reflect who you really are. Your overall theme may anchor the blog but only by adding a bit of “you” will it be interesting.

How many of us have had blogs for a while but have not posted in months… years even? That is not really a blog, but a dull and static example of how we have missed the most important recipe for blogging success… consistency. A good way to develop the habit of routinely updating or contributing to a blog is to create a daily or weekly schedule for your topics.  An example could be Top Ten Tuesday, Wild Wednesday, Free Thought Friday, etc. This puts a routine to your writing and helps your reader anticipate what to expect from your blog. This is a great way to build your viewership and that goal of all goals, the subscriber.

Finally, let’s talk about syndication, which is important to getting actual eyeballs on your site. Luckily, WordPress will send your posts directly to Facebook and Twitter. I would also suggest advertising the name of your blog along with your static website. There are many people who feel that the blog has taken center stage and basically replaced the need for a separate site. I still cling to mine but have made a link to my blog a central part of my site and have started sharing my blog URL as I would my address or cell phone number.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that if you build it, they will come. But I can guarantee if you don’t, they will go somewhere else.

What are you waiting for? Like me, you may find that you not only like it… you love it.

Happy Blogging, Y’all!

Hard to be Permenant in a Disposable World

January 26, 2011

Just yesterday I wrote about my love of gadgets and today, I received my timely comeuppance.

My college-age kids called me to tell me their phones were malfunctioning and needed to be replaced. How is it that both phones have run amuck at exactly same time?

And the wireless Gods were not smiling upon me because the blessed upgrade from our carrier is not until March. But Mom, they pleaded in their most pitiful voices, we (meaning me) could buy two refurbished phones to get them through the long wait (one month) until the upgrade was within their grasp… and only for measly $ 50 a pop. The phone is regularly $ 300 so this is a deal, right? I am being asked to dole out $100 for what will amount to two disposable phones. I ask you, does that seem logical? It seemed perfectly fine to them and they are now questioning my ability to reason let alone my ability to function without assistance.

When a $ 300 phone or anything for that matter is viewed as “temporary” and we count the days until they can be discarded, where do we draw the line on what is considered valuable enough to keep?

Computers: Laptop technology changes so rapidly that they are pretty much rendered obsolete in 3 to 4 years. I am on my third laptop since beginning my real estate business just 7 years ago.

Cameras: Do you remember how long you kept your first camera? I still have my fully manual Pentax K1000 (remember film, gasp), from high school which has still created some of the best shots I have taken to date. How long do you plan to hang onto your current camera? Or, are you already looking at the newer models and wishing you had them or worse, planning your future purchase?

Cars: I for one like to buy a really nice vehicle (usually one or two years old versus new) and will keep it for a very long time before moving on. While others may own 4 or 5 vehicles during the same time I have kept one. No judgement rendered; just observation.

Has advancing technology created an itch than cannot be scratched, a hunger than cannot be fed, a thirst that cannot be quenched?

 Are we doomed to enjoy temporary satisfaction only to be left wanting more?

What say you?

Cool Tools for Today’s Realtor!

January 25, 2011

Okay, so I am a gadget junkie and an intervention is certainly in my near future, but there are certain tools that help me through my day as a busy and successful Realtor in Katy, TX  – a sprawling suburb located about 20 miles west of Houston and near the center of the Energy Corridor.

My list has nothing to do with being able to perform the business of real estate but haseverything” to do with my being able to perform it well.

1. Tablet PC – I love being able to run my business as paperless as possible. I have an HP Tablet Elite that allows me to take notes, bring up all manner of paperwork, fill in the contracts and have clients sign on site. This is a powerful machine and impresses clients that I have the equipment of a professional.

2. Real Estate Dashboard software by I use this software to keep my documents organized on my computer and it has an e-sign feature that compares to Docusign as well as an upload feature similar to Dropbox.  (I use Dropbox for my iPad, too).

3. Docusign – Even though I have a redundant system on my computer, with so many other Realtors using Docusign, I am an avid subscriber as well. It is easy to use and clients LOVE it. No more driving across town to secure signatures. Experienced relocation clients, especially those out-of-town, now expect this level of service. Check it out… your business will prosper because of it.

4. Mi-fi – I have a wi-fi by Sprint (the Overdrive) that I carry with me always. For a mere $ 50 a month, I am able to access the internet at every opportunity on at least 5 machines: iPad, laptop, etc. I always give my listing appointments LIVE so that future clients can see exactly what is happening in their market in real-time as well I can demonstrate my marketing in action. For my buyers, we can drive around and use the new app or the app to view homes on the fly. I am one of those people who are “always” connected and I like it that way. However, my family does not always agree with me. Use with discretion…

5. iPad – Yes, I know I have a computer but it is not always convenient to bring it along plus my iPad is so much fun! I love the instant access to all of  my Social Media Sites plus my husband steals it from me to play “Words with Friends”. I know that my opponents may notice at times I am a tad brighter than usual… it is all Danny. Sorry but he loves the game and can really crush it at Scrabble. How can I deny him this one joy?

6. Kodak HD Video camera – the best $ 139.00 you will spend, and make sure to get the sport version which is water proof down to 3 meters and can be dropped from 5 feet (not that I have ever dropped a camera anywhere near water…ahem). And it will be perfect to take on my next vacation. Bahamas, here I come…

7. Laser Tape measure – How can any Realtor live without this device? In fact, I have about three because I tend to leave them around or lose them. They are fantastic and sellers are very impressed when you whip them out to measure their home.

8. Digital SLR Camera with a tripod – While I usually hire a professional photographer for my main photos, I tend to supplement with area community shots and they have to be great. I have several point and shoot cameras (the Kodak Video camera has a built-in 5 MP) but nothing really takes the place of a good SLR camera. There is no comparison between the two and having a great range of lenses (wide-angle for indoor shots and long-range for outdoors) helps me truly present the best features a property has to offer. I am a Nikon gal but any of the big guys will do. Shooting with a tripod completely eliminates any motion or shake allowing you to take the clearest of photos. Try a tripod, you will never go back to handheld photography again.

9. Laminating machine – I know this is a weird tool but many times I need to present a great copy of a survey, pool rendering, bullet list of features, newsletter, community update, etc. and a laminated copy always takes my marketing up a notch. The fact that it came from Sam’s and cost $ 99 is beside the point. No one else is using one and my listings stand out because of it.

10. Showing Beacon – This is a terrific box that connects to the phone of the seller and lets them know when a showing is complete by the simple touch of a button. The agent showing the home signals the seller to return home upon leaving the property and the beacon actually calls the seller’s cell phone with the message. Pretty cool, huh? My sellers love it because they are not left waiting hours for an agent that arrives late or does not show at all.

Now that I have gotten started, I could probably list at least 10 more.

What tools would you add to this list and how do you use them?

Top #10 Steps to Sell Your Home!

January 23, 2011


Thinking about selling your home?

Would you like a little sage advice that could save you time, money, anguish and probably a bit of all three?

1. Understand your real estate market – The old adage “Location, Location, Location” not only applies to your home but to your market as well. What you hear on the national news may not have any bearing on your individual area so learning local conditions is a must to determine the best strategy to find a ready, willing and able buyer.  You can learn a lot by following updates from the local association of Realtors in your area as well as contacting active Realtors who make it their business to understand and decipher the current market conditions.

2. Hire a Terrific Realtor – Okay, I had to say it. If you plan to try to sell yourself, then certainly skip to the next step. However, I am a proud Texas Realtor and always think that we are your best shot at getting sold. That said, all Realtors are not the same so making sure you hire the best is crucial. Ask your friends, do research online,  and pay attention to see who seems to list and more importantly “sell” homes in your community. (Just because an agent lists a lot of homes does not mean they actually sell them.)  The Houston Association of Realtors, HAR, has a fabulous rating system online for those agents who participate. This is a great indicator of performance and appears to be helpful to the consumer. For an example, you can see my ratings here. I know Zillow is attempting this as are other sites so you may have access to agent ratings or rankings in your area, too.

3. Check your calendar – Time of year is very important when determining how to position your property in the market place. Seasonal markets will ebb and flow like the seas and your Realtor will be able to help you determine the best time to list. Homes sell throughout the year but there are times when demand will be at its peak and therefore, sales prices will be highest. If possible, take advantage of these peak selling periods. If not, adjust your price and days on market expectations accordingly.

4. Hire a Stager – Staging has become a huge business and has been proven to assist sellers in presenting their homes in the best light possible to potential buyers. This equates to more money in your pocket when the home is sold. Some of us have taken staging courses and either handle it ourselves or hire independent stagers to work with our clients. If you are in the Houston Area, I love and recommend Linda Burnett with Envisions Designs. Regardless of who is doing the work, take the time and effort to follow the instructions of a good stager and it will pay off in the end.

5. Do what the Stager tells you to do – This is the part where some folks get hung up. The stager is a professional who looks at your home dispassionately and is really working for you to try to help you sell your home. The more you can complete of the stager’s honey-do list, the better. I realize there may be unexpected expense here but if it is major, then trust me… it may very well cost you more in the end to ignore rather than fix. Flooring, paint, landscaping… these are all items that can be a major turn-off to buyers if not in great shape.

6. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise – Make sure you have as much exposure as possible. Today’s buyer is really beginning online for their home search so you need to be there, too. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it. A little sign in the yard without an online presence will only net you the few people who happen to drive by. It is a brave new world out there and your home listing needs to be in it. Another must is you need multiple high quality photos and a virtual tour, if possible, to accompany your online advertising, as well as a good description of your home.

7. Offer a Buyer Agent Commission – If you are listing with a Realtor who will place you on the MLS, then there will be a published offer of compensation. However, if you try to go it alone, you really need to consider offering to pay an agent that might bring your buyer. Trust me, agents know more potential buyers than all your friends, co-workers, neighbors combined so it is important to utilize this great resource. In the US, usually the buyer’s representative is compensated out of the listing agent’s commission. But if not, please be mindful that there are wonderful Realtors out there who may have a client that would be perfect for your home but they need to be paid. If compensation is not offered by the seller, then the buyer would have to pay it and they will simply take it off the offer price. This may also cause a bit of confusion for the buyer who does not understand why their agent is not getting paid by the seller. Ask several Realtors in your area what would be a fair amount and then advertise it on your sign saying,” Realtors Welcome”. Besides, you do not work for free, why should they?

8. Consider Public and Agent-Only Open Houses – Public Open Houses are a good way for the public to view your home. Of course, attendance can be affected by time, date, weather, location, accessibility, signage, etc. If you see several Realtors holding open houses in your area, call them and ask if you could hold yours open at the same time. This brings in more traffic and a home that does not work for one buyer may work for another. Also, high attendance elevates buyer excitement.

9. Open Title – Whether your state requires you use attorneys or title companies, it is always best to make sure you have a good, clean title to be able to close. So many issues can run interference with a smooth transaction: probate issues, divorce, tax liens. It is best to get a clean bill of health with regard to your title up front so you are not stalled at the closing table. Another thing to do is find out your payoff amount on your mortgage, if any, to make sure you do not have to bring money to the table to close. If you discover you have to sell but do not have the funds necessary to close, in other words, you are “upside down” , you may want to contact an agent who specializes in what is known as a short sale.

10. Know Rules on Pre-Inspection and Disclosure Requirements – In some cases, it is a good idea or is even required to get your home inspected prior to going on the market. This will help you discover issues that may require repair as well as help narrow down the repair list for the future buyer. More real estate transactions fall apart due to failure to properly disclose items or fear of items that show up on inspection reports. Nip them in the bud and you will have a happier buyer and better transaction. And if you remember nothing from this post, always Disclose, Disclose, Disclose. If it is something that you as a buyer would want to know about a property, then you must disclose it.

As an experienced Realtor with Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors, a top listing firm in the great City of Houston, we do know a thing or two about the marketing of residential real estate. In fact, we have been honored twice now by J. D. Powers and Associates for “Highest Seller Satisfaction”. I welcome your comments or additions to this list. If you would like a market analysis for your Houston Area Home (and absolutely no pressure to list), just let me know. I am happy to help and only hope you will consider me should you decide  you wish to hire a Realtor. I can be reached at or via cell 832-372-7478.

Happy Selling and Good Luck!

What Can a Race Horse Teach Us about Success?

January 20, 2011

I grew up around horses, first my own and then living in a Rodeo-loving, horse-racing town. Horses are amazing creatures. From an engineering standpoint, with their overly bulky body, long block-shaped necks and spindly legs… it is a wonder they can walk much less race.

However, I do think we humans can learn a few things from horse racing:

  • Train every day … rain or shine. A muddy track may be slow but it will slow your competitors as well. The trick is learning to race on a slow track. In other words, never take the easy path. Know how to handle challenges and adversity while others stumble when the going gets tough.
  • Weigh your jockey. A heavy load will slow you down. Getting rid of excess baggage or negativity is a terrific way to lighten the load.
  • Check your hooves. You cannot run a good race if your shoes are shot.
  • Condition to move forward at the instant you hear the starting gun. Getting spooked by a challenge and staying in the gate will not win the race. Know when it is your moment to move and take it!
  • Vie for best gate position. There is a reason they call it “jockeying for position”. A good starting point can affect the outcome. In other words, be emotionally and physically prepared and always optimistic… a great advantage in today’s world.
  • Take advantage of that good position by keeping up pace and leading the pack. If you find yourself in a position of strength, keep moving. Never let up. It is too easy to hold back and lag behind once you find yourself in the lead.
  • Choose your competitors wisely. Racing slow horses will never improve your performance. Only race against the best, win or lose.
  • Put on blinders so that you are not easily distracted from the task or track ahead.
  • Winning by a nose is still a win!
  • And when you do cross that finish line, take your victory lap… you have earned it!

Blogging is Eating My Brain….

January 19, 2011

Okay, so I made the commitment to write a post a day on my blog and made it all the way to day 15 before disaster struck. What happened to this aspiring writer so thrilled with the challenge?

I found myself spending the weekend at a huge author/book club event, in a room surrounded by over 70 intensely talented individuals who have passionately lived the lives they write about and have been through hell and back to get published. I looked inward and saw… a fraud.

Who am I to think I have anything to say and would actually know how to say it? What have I done that merits my time to write it and the time of readers who may happen upon it?

What am I doing here?

Backing up… I have to admit that I absolutely love to read. And anyone who really loves to read knows that deep down in the places we do not share… we would love to write as well. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to read a well-written story… except perhaps the secret desire to have written it.

Recently, I have fallen head over heals in love with a white-haired, bon vivant Irishman by the name of Pat Conroy. Sure, I have read his incredible work in the past but it was not “true love” until I met him and listened to him present the past two years at the book club event know as Girlfriend Weekend.

He is a funny, funny man. He also has a very dark side that you discover when reading his novels. When asked how can he be this totally charming individual on stage while at the same time write about the deeply disturbing subjects of his books, he said, “I have found family a very difficult thing to live through, and my books reflect that.” Even off the cuff, he was profound.

Above all, this man can write. He turns the simplest phrases into magic where every sight, sound and smell leaps off the pages for his readers. Every sentence he writes is fluid, colorful and amazing. Last night, I literally devoured his beautiful cookbook in one sitting… pardon the pun. Ask yourself, when was the last time a cookbook made you cry and hungry at the same time?

Why on earth would I even attempt to continue to speak much less write after that? What could I possibly offer after coming in contact with such talent? Do I get back in the blogger’s saddle and ride again or do I wallow in my own self-inflicted feelings of ineptitude?

I guess in writing today… I have made my decision.

Home Design and Future Trends

January 14, 2011

Home design is fluid and ever changing. Many features we clamor for today may be passé tomorrow. Remember white kitchen cabinets? At one time, this was THE top wished for item and now… It is dated and unwanted. Corian countertops… All the rage in the 1990’s but now, nowhere near the top of choices.

What changes can we expect in the near future?

Based on responses to a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), here are some ways in which builders can expect homes to change by as early as 2015:

Single-family homes will get smaller (74 percent of respondents said).

Homes will have more “green” features (68 percent).

Homes will have more technology features (29 percent).

Homes will have more universal access features (20 percent).

Homes will have more outdoor living features, such as kitchens and fireplaces (10 percent).

The average home size will be roughly 2,150 sf.

Living rooms will merge with other spaces in the home (52 percent), vanish to save on square footage (30 percent), or become a parlor/retreat/library or music room (13 percent).

If the living room doesn’t vanish, it will likely decrease in size (76 percent).

Also downsizing are the entry foyer (66 percent) and dining room (63 percent).

Features “very likely” to be included in a new home in 2015 include a kitchen-living room combo (“great room”), walk-in closet in master bedroom, laundry room and two-car garage.

“Unlikely” features include three or more bathrooms, mudroom, unheated porch, dining room, skylights, three-car garage, four or more bedrooms, media room and two master bedroom suites.

Homebuyers are “somewhat likely” to want universal design features such as stepless entries, three-foot-wide doorways and four-foot-wide hallways, stepless showers that have seating, non-slip floor surfaces and grab bars in bathrooms.

People seem likely to lavish more attention on the kitchen, ensuring that room will retain its status as the home’s social center. Survey respondents said they are “very likely” to want double sinks, recessed lighting, table space for eating and breakfast bars. They’re “somewhat likely” to want a central island, walk-in pantry, recycling center and desk/computer area.

The Accidental Landlord

January 13, 2011

by christiborden

In today’s tumultuous lending environment, so many would-be buyers are being forced into leasing. And this has created an upset to the supply/demand balance … forcing unsuccessful would-be home sellers into making their homes available for lease due to the lack of ready, willing and able buyers. Thus, what I call The Accidental Landord is born!

In many instances, this is a wise maneuver because it allows the seller to maintain a stream of income to cover most if not all expenses (maybe even make a profit), while allowing the seller to sell at a future time when the market is more favorable.

That said, there are so many factors that you, as a future landlord, should take into consideration before making this move. First and foremost, in the State of Texas, you have a wonderful resource available from The Real Estate Center of Texas A&M. Click on the title to view the Landlords and Tenants Guide,  available in PDF format that you can download and read at your convenience. Be sure to grab a comfy chair because it is over 115 pages long and filled with pages and pages of legalese detailing your responsibilities and that of your tenant. I make sure all of my clients have access to this guidebook prior to the execution of a lease contract because it is so very important to understand the rules from the beginning.

Another thing to consider is whether it makes financial sense to lease. Ask your Realtor to run a market analysis of leases for properties similar to yours in the last year. This will give you an idea of where to price your lease. If you are in an area with few leases available or if you have something special to offer (pool, extra bedrooms, extra garage spaces, modern upgrades, close proximity to schools, shopping, transportation, etc.) then you may be safe to list above the average. On the other end of the spectrum, if you are in an area with an abundance of lease inventory and your property is very similar to the competition, you may need to consider pricing at or below market rates to attract a tenant. Another thing you need to consider is you are responsible for your mortgage payment, property taxes, landlord insurance and in most cases, any homeowner’s association or amenities fees. You may negotiate any costs for lawn or pool maintenance and repair items in the lease itself. Do the math! If your expenses add up to more than you think you can lease it for… you may be better off selling.

Big questions to ask yourself: should I allow pets or smoking? As a Realtor who may have to sell a lease home later or try to find another tenant years down the road, these are very tricky.

First, let’s chat about pets. We Texans love our pets and the majority of tenants seeking placement will have a pet or pets in tow. Realizing that pets can and do cause tremendous damage to properties, you may wish to decline to allow pets or to offer consideration on what we call a “case by case” basis. By declining pets outright, you limit the pool of tenants who will see and make applications to lease your property. By allowing case by case basis for pets, you get the pet owner traffic but can turn down any tenant with pets that you feel might be harmful to your property. If allowing a pet, you can ask for a sizeable pet deposit (either refundable or non-refundable) to help defray future repair costs to carpets, wood trim and landscaping – items usually damaged by pets.

Second, let’s chat about smoking. Now, I am not trying to start a dialog about the health issues or social issues behind smoking… I am only speaking from a property owner standpoint and I can tell you that the damage caused by repeated smoking indoors is extensive. Properties will retain the smoke odor (which permeates flooring, walls, all fabric surfaces, etc and also tends to discolor paint on cabinetry and trim) long after the smoker has left. In fact, many times these surfaces must be treated and/or replaced to eliminate the smoke odor – which could be very costly, indeed. This is a personal choice and smokers are not legally considered a “protected class” so you are perfectly in your right to only lease to non-smokers. That said, not everyone is truthful about this issue so some due diligence may be required.

And while we are on the subject of “Protected Classes”, you as a Landlord are required to know and comply with the Fair Housing Laws. Click here to view these requirements as they apply to everyone, not  just Realtors. And remember, ignorance is no defense where fair housing laws are concerned. One look at the penalties and you will certainly want to comply.

One last thought: I have been told by more than one successful real estate investor that a smart landlord is one with an outside property manager. It keeps everything on a non-personal, professional level and helps make sure your tenant is well cared for while living in your property. A happy tenant makes for a happy landlord.

So if you find yourself in the shoes of The Accidental Landlord, a little homework and due diligence will help keep your shoes on the right path.

Annual Pilgrimage to Jefferson aka Girlfriend’s Weekend Here We Come!

January 11, 2011

In a few short days, my friends and I will head off to Jefferson, Texas for one of my favorite getaways to attend the 11th Annual Girlfriend’s Weekend – a wonderful and wacky mash-up of over 70 authors and 500 or more of the readers who love them… with a bit of camp and kitsch thrown in as only Kathy Patrick  can provide.

Kat is the owner of the Beauty and the Book Salon/Bookstore, Founder of The Pulpwood Queen’s Book clubs, Founder-Organizer-Director and Head Queen of the Girlfriend Weekend and author of the book that started it all, The Pulpwood Queen’s Tiara-Wearing Book-Sharing Guide to Life.

This is my fifth year to make this pilgrimage and you may wonder just what is it, exactly, that keeps me coming back?

As an avid reader, I look forward to meeting and getting to know the authors whose faces peer down at me from the spines of my favorite books. There is something magical about watching and listening to a writer passionately share what inspired their creations. It helps me realize that many of them are really just like you and me… only wittier, more talented and with a much better agent!

While I know why I go, what do the writers get from it? I am not saying it isn’t fun but some of the presenters are just plain famous… widely published authors, well-known and celebrated throughout the New York literary scene as well as in Hollywood and Washington.

Jefferson is a sweet town with lots of local color (and a ghost or two) but what on earth must they think of it and us? What is it that brings them to the middle of NOWHERE for what is surely the most unusual literary event in the world? I would guess that the promotion side of their business is very hard work and tedious. Through all their travels to junkets, book fairs, conventions, etc., could it be that nowhere else are they allowed to fully relax and truly enjoy themselves while surrounded and supported by peers and fans? Could it be the only place where they can get a little silly? And believe me, they do get silly. We all do! That is half the fun and that is the very thing that keeps me coming back, year after year.

With an amazing line-up of talent such as Fanny Flagg, Pat Conroy, Jeanette Walls and 70 plus fabulous authors attending, this could very well be the best event to date. Although this year’s Author Extravaganza is SOLD OUT, I encourage you to check it out and join us next year. It promises to be a one-of-a-kind experience that will keep you coming back for more.

Stay tuned for more posts as I blog live from the event and happy reading!

Experiencing Information Overload?

January 10, 2011

Have we reached the point of total saturation? Where our search for information leaves us not wiser but more confused, lost and unsatisfied? Not long ago, I remember when the internet first made its presence in my life, before the era of Yahoo, Bing, and Google. Where any attempt to search for information would lead you down so many dark pathways that you would eventually give up and head back to the library. Yes, we have come a long way, baby… but have we come too far?

And no, I am not going to comment about online content that is not fit for human consumption, or at least not the humans I like to hang around with. I am all for “Freedom of Speech” as protected by our mighty constitution but sick is sick and that is that!

I am, however, talking about the fact that we may be reaching the point where the sheer weight of  information, with much of it conflicting, might just outweigh any benefit. And like its twin, sensory-overload, it may lead to a complete system shutdown.

Example # 1: Online medical sites  ask you for your symptoms and Viola, they give you a long list of possible diagnoses. The only problem is that the results can run anywhere from a common cold to advanced terminal lung cancer. Want to really start to worry? Make a visit to one of these sites next time you have the sniffles.

Example # 2: Ever tried to find a simple recipe online? Your search leads you to so many variations of what it is you wish to cook that you may end up stymied and order pizza instead.

Example # 3: Real Estate, my specialty. I am currently working with a lovely international couple  buying their first home in the US. Being engineers, they began searching for information months ago. Every online inquiry took them in another direction until they did not know where to go next. They had discovered so much data that it no longer made sense. That is, until they found me. And yes, they found me online – a subtle irony to this post that is not lost on its author.

It took us hours to wade through their spreadsheets and pages of questions and concerns. Afterward, we then did something you cannot do with a click of a mouse … we left the information highway and went off-road (offline) by visiting the communities, the builders and the homes themselves. Nothing really beats being there and having an expert along for the ride.

As a Realtor and a fairly tech savvy one at that, I know online resources have undoubtably helped the real estate process. With great sites like, or (sorry, couldn’t help myself), today’s consumer can discover an amazing amount of data about almost everything you would want to know about a home, a community, a developer, a builder, etc. In fact, they are an invaluable tool for me as well.

But is the information itself enough? Does that mean that I am no longer needed in the process? The experienced Realtor brings specific knowledge that cannot be found by Google, negotiation skills that are not offered by Yahoo!, and a level of expertise (needed to shepherd a transaction from contract to close) that is not found with Bing.

How do we handle information overload? I think adding the human factor will always the answer.

Winter… Finally arriving in Houston but are you ready?

January 9, 2011

by Christi Borden

Cold fronts are few and far between here in South Texas. Oh, sure the folks up in Dallas will often get ice, sleet and occasional flurries of the white stuff, but by the time it travels down Hwy 45, we usually get a soggy, windy mess.

Hold on to your hats folks because it looks like we are in for quite a storm. With 100% chance of rain (and it must be serious because our weather experts rarely risk putting themselves out there beyond the usual 35% chance), high winds in the morning expected to be up to 30 mph and temps reaching into the low 30’s by nightfall… Houston, winter has officially arrived.

If last year’s cold fronts taught us anything, we need to protect our property from costly damage due to freezing conditions. I posted information about freezing pipes this time last year and it bears repeating.

(January 2010)

 This information is taken directly from

Icy winter weather can cause water pipes to freeze and burst if you haven’t prepared them for the frigid temperatures. Outdoor pipes, pipes in unheated areas, and pipes that run along uninsulated exterior walls are susceptible to expanding and bursting if they freeze. The result can be thousands of dollars worth of water damage to your walls, ceilings, carpets, and furniture.

Prepare for the Freeze

You can protect your home by taking the following precautions to prepare your pipes for a freeze:

  • Protect faucets, outdoor pipes, and pipes in unheated areas by wrapping them with rags, newspapers, trash bags, or plastic foam.
  • Insulate your outdoor water meter box and be sure the lid is on tight.
  • Cover any vents around your home’s foundation.
  • Drain water hoses, unhook and store them in a garage or shed.
  • Protect outdoor electrical pumps.
  • Drain swimming pool circulation systems or keep the pump motor running. (Run the pump motor only in a short freeze. Running the motor for long periods could damage it.)
  • Drain water sprinkler supply lines (and cover above-ground piping).
  • Open the cabinets under the sinks in your kitchen and bathrooms to allow heated air to circulate around the water pipes.
  • Set your thermostat at a minimum of 55 degrees, especially when you’re gone for the day or away for an extended period.
  • Let indoor faucets drip, but don’t run a heavy stream of water.
  • Make sure you know where your home’s shut-off valve is and how to turn it on and off.
  • If you leave town, consider turning off your water at the shut-off valve. Leave your faucets on when you turn the water off to drain the pipes.  Make sure you turn the faucets off before you turn the shut-off valve back on.
  • If you drain your pipes, contact your electric or gas utility company for instructions on protecting your water heater.

If Your Pipes Freeze

If a pipe bursts and floods your home, turn the water off at the shut-off valve.  Call a plumber for help if you can’t find the broken pipe or if it’s inaccessible.  Don’t turn the water back on until the pipe has been repaired.

If the pipe hasn’t burst, thaw it out with an electric heating pad, hair dryer, portable space heater, or towel soaked with hot water. Don’t use a blowtorch or other open-flame device. They are fire risks and could produce dangerous carbon monoxide.

Apply heat by slowly moving the heat source toward the coldest spot on the pipe. Never concentrate heat in one spot because cracking ice can shatter a pipe. Turn the faucet on and let it run until the pipe is thawed and water pressure returns to normal.

If You Have Damage

Contact your insurance agent or company promptly. Follow up as soon as possible with a written claim to protect your rights under Texas’ prompt-payment law.

Review your coverage. Most homeowners and renters policies pay to repair houses and replace personal property damaged by the bursting pipes. Most policies also pay for debris removal and for additional living expenses if you have to move temporarily because of damage to your home. If you can’t find your policy, ask your agent or company for a copy.

Homeowners policies may require you to make temporary repairs to protect your property from further damage. Your policy covers the cost of these repairs. Keep all receipts and damaged property for the adjuster to inspect. If possible, take photos or videos of the damage before making repairs. Don’t make permanent repairs. An insurance company may deny a claim if you make permanent repairs before an adjuster inspects the damage.

Most homeowners policies do not cover loss caused by freezing pipes while your house is unoccupied unless you used reasonable care to maintain heat in the building; shut off the water supply; and drain water from plumbing, heating, and air conditioning systems.

Stay warm, Houstonians!

Networking… Love it or Hate it?

January 8, 2011

by Christi Borden

I absolutely love networking. This is one of the things in life that I know I do really well.  I always have. It is as much a part of me as my arms and legs and as effortless as breathing air. If you put me in a room with just one or one hundred other living souls, I can guarantee you I am networking – and usually not for business. I do it for pleasure. I truly enjoy meeting new people and getting know now more about them. The fact that my business benefits, I assure you, is purely accidental.

Alternatively, I know it is something that I scares the pants off of many others. I think one reason is the word “networking” has gathered a negative connotation throughout the years… Bringing forth dark and dreary visions of pushy salesmen, pyramid schemed promotions, and endless and painfully boring functions.

But can I ask you to look at it another way…

It really is something we have done all our lives. Of course, when we were kids, we called it “playing “. When we grew to be teenagers, we called it “hanging out”. As we became young professionals, we called it “Happy Hour”. So, now that we are finally grown ups, we find ourselves using the dreaded word “Networking” to describe the simple act of getting out there, meeting new people, making new friends and hopefully building relationships along the way. Now, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

So have you decided: Love it or hate it?

Technology is Great… Except When it isn’t!

January 7, 2011

by Christi Borden

Yesterday, we experienced an issue with our email and were taken off-line for the better part of the day. Does the thought of being “off-line” even for a moment send chills down your spine? It was an unexpected event that was beyond our control and as professionals, we dealt with it… At least some of us did.

Funny how we get so wrapped up in today’s technology and tools that we forget how to get things done IRL (in real life). Some may have decided to take the day off. I mean, how can anything be accomplished? On the other hand, some decided to plug ahead using now-antiquated methods of communications such as fax and … gasp… the landline telephone. 

This, of course, got me thinking that we all probably need to have a contingency plan for the tools that we use everyday to get business done:

  • Cell Phone: Do you have access to a second phone? I keep a second line for my team and can always carry that line if my primary phone decides to take a bath. Cell phones are a lot like cats: Attracted to water, cannot swim and will make us pay dearly if we drop them in.
  • Email: If we lose our Outlook and email capability, do we have a “printed” version of our clients’ contact information so that we can at least give them a call or a text to let them know we are still there for them, even if our email is not?
  • Computers/Data: What do you have to protect your data? External hard-drives are fine until it fails and loses all the photos from your trip to Europe … failed utterly and completely. Gone! Of course, I had reused the memory cards thinking my precious photos were safe. Gone! Sigh… Now, I use an online backup system but keep my photos on my memory cards as back-up to the back-up. Redundancy is my new middle name. (The bright side is it gives me another reason to return to Rome… as if I needed a reason.)
  • Ourselves: Finally, what is your back-up if you fail or become incapacitated? I discovered the need for this when I broke my ankle several year’s ago and realized that my clients’ needs went on even when I could not. Make sure you have someone who can easily take over in the case of emergency and that they can weed through your office to find your files. Disability insurance is also important to look into so that you might remain somewhat solvent during a time of crisis or incapacitation.

So what did yesterday’s little experiment in Murphy’s Law do for me? It reminded me that while technology and tools may fail, we need to act like Scouts and “Be Prepared”. 

What is your back up plan?

“How can I be lost… If I’ve Got Nowhere to Go?”

January 5, 2011

by Christi Borden

Okay, my kids will absolutely fall over laughing that their boring mom is quoting Metallica (“The Unforgiven III”, I believe)… but it is January and again, I find myself in the middle of goal setting and planning. This song verse reminded me how important it is to actually have a personal and professional goal. In other words: a plan or a roadmap. Otherwise, how will you realize where you want to be and what road to take to make it.

So many times we plod through our lives with nothing more planned than where we want to eat for lunch and what we want to watch on TV. That is not a goal. A goal is something that should be written, long-term, far-reaching (meaning a bit out of our reach so that we have to stretch to get to it) and something meant to be shared.

I am pretty good when it comes to professional goals. It is the personal ones that somehow get pushed to the way side and only reviewed this time of year.  I am committing to several things this year and sharing:

One is this blog. I have committed to posting every day and here on Day 5, I am truly enjoying the process.  Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Another is education: I am working toward the Master’s sessions of my Certified Negotiation Expert series – a necessity in my business. I am also an avid reader and plan to read something (whether serious or silly) everyday and chose to fill my mind with words rather than television. I watch so little of it now but truly plan to tune it out this year.

Personally: To be a better wife to my husband, a better mom to my kids, a better master to my dog and a better friend to my pals.

What about you?  Have you got somewhere to go? Share….

Films and Fashion… How deeply do they affect us?

January 4, 2011

by Christi Borden

Sunday evening I got the chance to see the Coen brother’s version of True Grit. Well done! It was a terrific film and homage to both the original and the book by Charles Portis. (Now at number 6 on the NY Times Paperback Trade  Fiction list and well worth a read).

But in seeing the new version, I was taken back to my childhood when my Grandfather (a huge Duke fan) took me to see this and every other John Wayne Movie as well as numerous re-runs on television. (Yes, boys and girls, this was before Cable, Netflix and videos …).

One of things I remembered most was wanting to be Kim Darby, who originally played Mattie Ross. She was tough, cool, sassy, cute and really gave those “honery” adults a lesson or two. The fact that she was 20 and playing a 14-year-old only speaks to the gullibility of my youth but in my mind… we were kindred spirits.

As a middle class kid growing up in the Panhandle town of Plainview, Texas, the only way I could be like Kim or Mattie was through my feeble attempts at fashion. My poor mom had to hunt and scour through catalogs at J. C. Penny’s, Sear’s and Anthony’s to find the hottest ticket item for girls at that time…

Gauchos! (No, not the South American cowboy variety.) I am referring to that terrific western wear fusion between pants and a skirt. Nobody looked as cool in a pair of Gauchos as Kim did and I and every other young girl had to be just like her… a trend was born.

Thinking back, my wardrobe seems to have been influenced by Film/TV a few other times in my life  and not always in a flattering way:

Saturday Night Fever – Lycra bodysuit, wrap skirt and platforms. Hey, at least I had the body for it then and could dance!

Grease  – Candies pumps and leather.. yeah, we all thought we were Olivia Newton John and some of us were even foolish enough to try to carry off her hair.

Annie Hall  – Boyish vests, ties, baggie pants, loafers and hats. My mom’s favorite because almost everything came from garage sales and resale shops.

Dynasty – Hey, I loved the big shoulder pads, bigger hair and way out there jewelry. I am a Texan, after all.

Urban Cowboy – Need I say more? You know you fell for it, too.

Can you add to this list? Think back to when a film or television show’s influence actually transformed you into a fashion plate or victim.

My only complaint about the new version of True Grit is that the Wardrobe Designer missed a wonderful opportunity to nod at the fond memories of all the women who, like me, wanted to be “the coolest girl in the world.” Who knows, maybe Gauchos would be making another comeback.

Top Restaurant Cities in US Named by Esquire… Surprised by Houston?

January 4, 2011

by Christi Borden

Houston, TX - # 7 Top Restaurant City in US

Esquire magazine has just published their list of top food cities in the United States and Houston .. Yes, Houston…came in at number 7. Does that surprise you? If you knew Houston, it shouldn’t?

As the 5th largest city in the US, Houston is probably one of the more diverse cities in our nation and offers so many different nationalities, cultures, and amazing cuisines  that it truly can compete with the finest gastronomic epicenters of the Globe. And the experts agree…

As an avid Foodie, I am particularly thrilled about this recognition. We Houstonians are used to being at or near the Top of many lists and they have not always been positive: Fattest City, Worst Traffic, Longest Commute, Least Attractive, Least Walkable City, etc. There has been such a negative bias against H-Town that it is so sweet to have positive recognition. In fact, as one of the top areas that people are chosing to relocate…Like it or not, it is getting pretty hard to ignore us any longer.  

What type of epicurean experience awaits you when you visit here? First and foremost, you will have to narrow your focus because it would take a lifetime to try them all. The ethnic make up and geographic location of this Port city are truly reflected by the choices available to the lucky diner. We have the most amazing: Steakhouses, Barbeque Joints, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai, Italian, French, Soul Food, Cajun, Creole, Seafood, Middle Eastern, Russian, Latin American, Catalan, Indian … Well, you get the idea. You want it… we have it and it is divine.

I have to make a special mention about my favorite… which is Mexican – made authentic and delicious due to our close proximity to the origin of this amazing cuisine. There are so many variations that fall into the basic description of “Mexican Food”, you may need the help of a local to find the one that appeals most to you. I am personally a fan of what is commonly known as  “Tex-Mex”, which tends to be “spicier” and “cheesier” (my word and I am sticking with it) than the South of the Border variety. Pure heaven on earth…

If I am given the choice of one last meal to enjoy prior to departing this sweet earth, I can tell you it will probably be a steaming platter of Grilled Chicken Breasts smothered in a fire-hot Habanero Cheese Sauce at El Jarrito’s Mexican Restaurant in Katy, TX … along with a frozen pitcher of the best Margaritas in the City.

How about you? Any favorites you wish to share? The world is finally watching and for that, we in Houston thank you, Esquire Magazine!

FYI: The  article list goes follows and you can read the entire article here.

1. New York

2. Chicago .

3. San Francisco

4. New Orleans

5. Los Angeles

6. Las Vegas

7. Houston

8. Washington, D.C.

9. Boston

10. Seattle

I welcome you to comment your thoughts and to subscribe to TheBordenReport.

Where is your Favorite Place in the World?

January 2, 2011

Your passport to a truly global real estate experience

One of my favorite things to do is travel and luckily throughout my husband’s career, we have been able to see much of the World.

As a consequence, I am often asked to name my favorite place. Frankly, this is a lot like being asked to name your favorite child. You love each one in their own way and for different reasons. But today is a day for introspection so I will give it a go… I would love to know if you agree with me or can help me see the error of my ways.

Here is my list of My Favorite place(s) so far:

Beauty: Country – New Zealand, North and South Islands and Alaska
Beauty: City – Prague and Paris
Food: Italy, hands down favorite … Hong Kong, Thailand and anywhere in Southern Louisiana
Ancient Ruins: Ephesus, Turkey, Rome and Athens (in that order)
History: Italy, Greece and Egypt
Walking Accessibility: Rome and San Francisco, CA
Friendliest Locals: Costa Rica and Indonesia
Adventure: South Africa and Zimbabwe (at least back when it was safe to visit)
Exotic: China
Most Resilient People: Russia and Hungary
Comfortable/Easy for first-time travelers: Germany and England
Relaxing: Home:).

All time favorite city that I wish to return to the second I leave: Rome!

This is just my list and I know it differs from yours. With luck, this list will continue to grow and change as I change.

Where is your favorite place in the world and why?

Transformation by Passion!

January 2, 2011

 by Christi Borden

If you were to ask anyone who knows me very well for a description… the following adjectives would not necessarily make the short list:

Patient, Methodical, Analytical, Calm or Organized. Sad, but there it is.

This does not mean that I cannot be these things when I really put my mind to it,  but I have yet to master these traits. I have spent endless hours (okay, years) trying to develop systems to enhance my skills. In the end, I have managed to hire a fabulous staff… delegation is a wonderful thing.

However, as I spent ALL DAY today (and yesterday) cooking, I realized that cooking is a task that by its very own nature requires the exact traits that have so long escaped my grasp. Yet through it all, I absolutely LOVE to cook. I always have. Following the passion of my professional chef Grandfather… I derive sheer and utter joy from the planning, organizing, creation and completion processes involved. And each time I delve into a very complicated recipe or menu plan … I become someone different in the process. I am transformed into the gal I have always wanted to be.

So to anyone out there that might want to know me – Yes, I can be Patient, Methodical, Analytical, Calm and Organized…Well, at least while I am cooking.

What transforms you?

I would love for your comments and welcome you to subscribe to my blog … .

New Year’s Day Calls for Football, Black Eyed Peas and Gumbo!

January 1, 2011

As we all wake-up this morning, dreary eyed from either late night with the kids, family or friends and perhaps a little tired from “over-celebrating”, many of us will settle into our New Year’s Day Celebrations and Traditions. What are yours? Do you even have one? And I ask you if not …why not?

Mine are a bit diverse as we moved around a lot. As a native Texan from the Panhandle city of Plainview, we grew up knowing that our year would be filled with luck because my Grandmother, Sweetie Nicholson, (yes, she was so Sweet it was the only name the entire town knew her by even though her name was Olive) made her yummy salt pork black-eyed peas and cornbread. I have never been able to truly duplicate her efforts… the secret was in the seasoned wrought iron pan and the love she poured into the dish.

The other tradition we have comes from spending much of my youth from teens to 30’s in South Louisiana – a huge pot of homemade Gumbo to ring in the new year. (And I hate to start the centuries old Gumbo debate but we make a dark roux, chicken and sausage Gumbo in this house….not a shrimp, oyster or okra pod in sight.) Cajun Gumbo rules!!!

Traditions are a wonderful thing… they bring along the tastes, smells and memories of our past and co-mingle them with the our present. If you do not have a New Year’s Tradition… Start one. It is that easy. Your kids will thank you years down the road when they mimic the celebrations from their childhood and pass along their take on your ideas. If you ever worried about leaving a legacy, this is your chance. Make it meaningful.

For my family, it is the togetherness we share that makes it wonderful… that, and a pretty darned good bowl of hot, steaming Gumbo. If you want my recipe, I am always happy to share.

Happy New Year’s Day to You and Yours!

Christi Borden

The Borden Report: I am Posting Everyday in 2011!

December 31, 2010


I’ve decided I want to blog more. I have found myself getting wrapped up with work/family/life, etc. and not contributing as I had originally planned. Rather than just thinking about doing it, I’m starting right now.  I will be posting on this blog once a day for all of 2011. They may be short and pithy or long and verbose but will strive for relevance and interest.

I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The DailyPost, and the community of other bloggers with similar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way. Any suggestions for desired content are always welcome. I wish you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year! 2011 will be great!



Texas Realtors Launch Program to Assist Homebuyers!

August 17, 2010

 TAR (Texas Association of Realtors) INITIATIVE TO HELP HOMEBUYERS

 AUSTIN (Texas Association of Realtors) – The Texas Association of Realtors (TAR) has announced an initiative to help more homebuyers take advantage of housing assistance programs and make homeownership more affordable for Texans.

According to TAR, Texas ranks 44th out of 50 states in overall homeownership, partly because of a need for more affordable housing. That homeownership gap is widest in Texas among Hispanics, who account for 36 percent of the state’s population but only 5 percent of homeowners.

 “The good news for our state is that many programs do exist to make homeownership more affordable for Texans,” said TAR Chairman Bill Jones. “The bad news is that few people know about them and even fewer know how to take advantage of them.”

To address this issue, TAR has launched, an online searchable database of housing assistance programs in Texas.

In addition, Texas Realtors are partnering with local lenders, housing counselors and others throughout the state to host educational events for consumers. At these events, attendees will learn about workforce housing issues, consumer needs for workforce housing and Texas-specific programs available to make homeownership more affordable.

Christi Borden, Realtor receives the “Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®)” Designation

August 6, 2010

Professional negotiation skills a must for all real estate agents helping home buyers/sellers, especially in current market

Christi Borden, a Relocation and International Property Specialist with Prudential Gary Greene in Katy, TX has been awarded the Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®) designation by the Real Estate Negotiation Institute.  The CNE® is earned by real estate professionals by successfully completing formal training in the art of negotiation and persuasion.  Agents who receive this certification are in the top 1% of all agents nationally.

With professional negotiation skills, agents are able to help clients obtain better results in the sale or purchase of their home.  CNE® agents have a powerful competitive edge because of their ability to 1) uncover more information, 2) work collaboratively with others, 3) exchange value during sales/purchase negotiations, and 4) retain control over desired outcomes.  Bottom line, CNE® agents know how to influence and persuade others more effectively than agents without professional negotiation training. 

The Real Estate Negotiation Institute, the leading negotiation training and coaching company in the real estate industry (based in Peoria, AZ) provides the CNE® certification training.  Tom Hayman, the CEO and co-founder of the Real Estate Negotiation Institute, is a professional negotiator with 35+ years of experience, including 25 years with The Procter and Gamble Company, a Fortune 50 company.  Hayman asserts “Any Buyer or Seller who hires a CNE® agent can feel confident that they have the best trained agent in the business.  They will get superior results and have better resolution of any issues when hiring a CNE® agent.”

 For more information call me at 281-492-5984 or visit

Proof that Texas is Truly the Best Place to Live!

July 23, 2010

by christiborden

As a natural-born and very Proud Texan , I could spend days going into so many reasons why Texas is currently the most popular destination for those who have had the misfortune to have been born elsewhere:). Disclaimer: I have lived and travelled abroad so I know I am taking a risk when making such a bold statement but it is my opinion and as any self-respecting Texan…I stand by it.

Just a few reasons would be our great culture, welcoming smile, wide-open spaces, varied but pleasant climate, friendly residents and more… but some would argue that those items are not necessary objective.

According to the Texas Real Estate Center located in at Texas A&M (Whoop): ” Texas is leading the United States in the current U-shaped economic recovery. The state’s economy experienced its second month of positive annual employment growth after 16 months of job losses.

“Texas’ annual employment growth rate was 0.9 percent from June 2009 to June 2010 compared with a negative rate of 0.1 percent for the nation. After 17 months of job losses, the state’s private sector posted a positive annual employment growth rate of 0.4 percent.

“The state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose from 7.8 percent in June 2009 to 8.2 percent in June 2010, while the U.S. rate in June was 9.5 percent, the same as in June 2009.

“Six Texas industries — education and health services; mining and logging; professional and business services; leisure and hospitality; manufacturing; and transportation, warehousing, utilities — and the government sector had more jobs in June 2010 than in June 2009. Five other industries experienced net job losses over the same period.

Sixteen Texas metro areas experienced positive employment growth rates from June 2009 to June 2010, up from 13 for the period from May 2009 to May 2010. College Station-Bryan ranked first in job creation followed by San Angelo, McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood and Waco.

The state’s actual unemployment rate in June 2010 was 8.5 percent. Midland had the lowest unemployment rate followed by Amarillo, Lubbock, San Angelo, Abilene and College Station-Bryan.”

If you would like to view more information about this great economic news, please click here.

Having been born and raised in the Panhandle and currently living in fabulous Katy, a huge suburb west of downtown Houston, I can tell you our State is as varied and amazing as one would expect from the second largest state in our union. Our people are quick with a joke and a smile, and it takes a while for non-Texan’s to get used to complete strangers waving at them as they pass.

We offer breathtaking landscapes, job opportunities, affordable housing, metropolitan/urban areas for culture and suburban areas for those seeking a slower pace.

And did I mention the food and wine? So many choices and some of the best Bar-B-Que and Mexican Food to be found in the nation… and our wine industry continues to win global recognition for quality.

With so many reasons to make Texas you home… what are you waiting for? Come on over, we are waiting for you!

Low Home Appraisal? What Do You Do Now?

July 20, 2010

by christiborden

So everything seemed to be going well in the home selling process…

  • Listed with your favorite Realtor – Check
  • Home Staged to attract buyers – Check
  • Good showing traffic and feedback – Check
  • Ready, Willing and Able Buyer presents an offer, which is negotiated and accepted – Check
  • Inspections are performed and repair items negotiated – Check
  • Appraisal is performed – Check
  • Appraisal comes in lower than acceptance price… WHAT? Back up a minute. How can that be? Shouldn’t a home be worth what a ready, willing and able buyer is willing to pay for it?

Not according to the buyer’s lender. In fact, the home needs to appraise not only at what the buyer is financing but the entire sales price as well. Why? Fraudulent loans and appraisals have caused such a backlash that lenders are very cautious and need to make sure their collateral (the property itself) is at lease worth the indebtedness so that they are covered should the buyer walk away without benefit of paying off the loan.

So, now what do we do?

Appraisals are really just the opinion of that one person and they are only human… mistakes are made. If the appraiser is unwilling to reconsider or revise, then you (the seller) can do one of three things.

  1. Accept the appraisal value and lower your sales price to match.
  2. Negotiate with buyer to pay either the original sales price regardless of appraisal or to meet somewhere in between (may mean buyer has to bring more cash to the table depending on his loan).
  3. Let buyer terminate (could be with a return of earnest money depending on the contract terms) and go back on the market hoping for a better appraisal with your next buyer. One item to note, if the buyer had an FHA loan, this appraisal stays with the address for any future FHA loans within 6 months).

How can we insure a good appraisal?

In today’s lending environment and with the HVCC  (Home Valuation Code of Conduct) rules in place, the lender has no control over who handles the appraisal. But there are things you can do to increase the chances of the property appraising if it is indeed selling for or below market value:

  1. Make sure property is in good working order on day of appraisal.
  2. Leave behind a list of any and all upgrades to the home that you wish the appraiser to consider.
  3. If there were multiple offers on the home which may have driven the sales price over list price, leave data supporting this such as copies of other offers to show a demand for this property over and above the competition.
  4. Provide comparable properties for the appraiser to view in the event he or she is not familiar with the community. While the appraiser may not use these exact comps, he or she may find it helpful. I find it is always better to offer the assistance up front prior to the appraisal rather than afterward so that there is no hint of impropriety or influence.

In our market, the majority of appraisals turn out as they should. However, as every Boy Scout knows… Be Prepared!

Why has our Buyer Cancelled the Deal? Today’s Home Seller Dilemma…

July 7, 2010

by christiborden

While real estate certainly has its ups and downs (one of the reasons I love it), some of the hardest minutes are those right before I have to call my seller to tell them that their buyer has terminated their contract. Whether it be on the last day of their Option Period* or the day prior to our closing date, it is still a very hard pill to swallow. And for the sellers, it can be devastating.

In this very interesting (read, volatile) real estate and economic climate, this is occurring all too frequently. Why? First and foremost, buyer confidence has certainly been impacted by the economy, worries about tax increases, health care reform costs, job security (or lack thereof) and locally, the issue of the BP gusher in the Gulf. When you come to think of it, with all of those worries, it is a wonder buyers can get out of bed each day, much less commit to purchase the largest financial investment of their lives.

Second, we in the Katy, TX (and much of Houston) markets have to deal with the issue of abundant, reasonably priced inventory (much of it new construction). Buyers will commit to one property, write an offer, agree to a contract price, even go through inspections only to find that their dream home has now come onto the market and all bets are off. Goodbye, Buyer…

Third, I have seen recently quite a few buyers cancel a contract over inspection items that in the past would not have been of great concern. It seems like today’s buyers want a resale home to be perfect in every way – and frankly, even the new homes rarely pass inspection with flying colors. Most if not all inspection deficiencies can be repaired but there have been instances where seller agrees to repair everything and the buyer is still not satisfied. Why is that? I think in some cases it has to do with cultural misunderstandings of how our inspections work here and the grandfather clause for many changes in codes through the years. Another factor may be the lack of an experienced and professional Realtor representing the buyer (who should prepare their buyer for what to expect upon inspection and what may be reasonable or not reasonable to expect a seller to repair). I have actually seen agents send over an inspection list and say to the seller, “Buyer wants you to repair all items”. If the agent had done their work in counseling their client, they would have told them that inspectors are required to inspect with today’s code in mind but sellers are not mandated to bring their homes to today’s standards. This can go a long way in helping keep buyer’s expectations reasonable and could alleviate a lot of frustration on the part of all parties when and if repair items are requested.

So, how do we help our sellers understand that a contract is only as strong as the buyer behind it (or as strong as the buyer’s Realtor and Lender, but that is another story indeed). First, we must truly analyze the offer as to all terms, not just price. Even with multiple offers in hand, remember that the buyer you let go may be the one you wish for 2 weeks down the road.

All parties need to have a back-up plan if the transaction fails. One thing I tell my seller is DO NOT start packing until the inspection is completed and all repair negotiations, if any, are worked out to the satisfaction of all parties. In Texas we have a Termination Option* that allows the buyer a given amount of days after the execution of contract to terminate for any reason, whatsoever, and still retain his earnest money. This is usually the time period that inspections are completed and any repairs negotiated.

Once that period expires, then the buyer is contractually committed to close. Does that mean it is a sure thing? No way! There is also a time frame within which the final loan approval process must be complete and this allows the buyer to be released from the contract with his earnest money in tact if for some reason the loan cannot move forward – loss of job is a great example here.

So what is a seller to learn from this?

  • Please be aware that a contract is no guarantee of a closing.
  • Have a back-up plan so that you do not find yourself homeless if the deal falls out at the end.
  • Be informed: Stay in touch with your Realtor and make sure he/she is constantly in touch with all the parties involved: buyer’s agent, title escrow officer, buyer’s lender, etc.
  • Allow a flexible timeframe between your next purchase and the closing of your current home, even if it means asking for a temporary lease from your buyer or moving your family to a hotel and your household items to temporary storage to allow for closing delays – which unfortunately is more frequent that we would all like. I have seen transactions built on multiple back-to-back closings crumble like a deck of cards which could have been prevented if all parties had left wiggle room in between the closing dates.
  • And if by chance your buyer terminates, it is not the end of the world. Pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, repair needed items presented on inspection and proudly put yourself back out on the market … You will find that your next buyer was really the best buyer for you and everything eventually always works out for the best.

Good luck and happy selling!

Realtors working hard for homeowner’s rights! Tax Credit Deadline extended and Flood Insurance issue resolved!!!

July 1, 2010

by christiborden

Last night, the Senate passed the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 5569), an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program until September 30, 2010. This will allow transactions to move forward. The bill is retroactive and covers the lapse period from June 1, 2010, to the date of enactment of the extension. National Association of Realtors members sent more than 250,000 letters to Members of Congress encouraging them to extend the program.

Additionally, Congress passed an extension of the closing deadline for the Home-buyer Tax Credit, the Home-buyer Assistance and Improvement Act (H.R. 5623). The extension applies only to transactions that have ratified contracts in place as of April 30, 2010, that have not yet closed. The legislation is designed to create a seamless extension; the new closing deadline for eligible transactions is now September 30, 2010. There will be no gap between June 30 and the date the President signs the bill into law. Extending the tax credit closing deadline will help provide additional stability to real estate markets across the nation.

This was crucial as we all worked so hard for our buyers to help them write contracts before the April 30th deadline… only to find ourselves out in the cold when it came to making the closing deadline of midnight, last night. Underwriting restrictions and backlog simply made that deadline a fantasy rather than reality for many. Another reason for delays in closing was inability to purchase flood insurance across the nation. For many of those in areas that mandate this purchase, their hands were tied and their transactions were unable to close.

Our political action committees across the nation (whether at a national, state or local level) worked hard to get our members motivated to send emails, letters and phone calls to our legislators to show them how important it was to our clients and fellow constituents, to get these matters taken care of NOW!

Looks like they listened….

Q.What is the big deal about Master Planned Communities anyway?

June 13, 2010

by christi borden, realtor

A. I just finished writing an offer for a client and he and others always ask me what makes Cinco Ranch or other master-planned communities so special, i. e. more expensive and more elusive than other housing options in the Katy/West Houston Area.

One word explains it all… security. And not in the usual sense of the word from a personal security standpoint. I actually refer to security as it relates to your financial investment in your home. No Realtor with any sense will guarantee a buyer that his or her home will appreciate in any area in the United States or at least they should not – even in an area with a pretty darned good track record like ours.

All we can do for our clients when advising them as their buyer’s representative in a real estate transaction is to inform and disclose all we know that could have a positive or negative impact on the value of their property and the value of the quality of life. There are so many variables to the process that no one can predict what will happen so we have to look at the past to help us understand the future.

As Houston is not a city with proper Zoning for residential areas, developers (the really good ones) take it upon themselves to master-plan or self-zone their developments with one goal in mind: helping their residents enjoy their lifestyle while retaining property values. This is a good goal and some do it better than others. One of the reasons the South Katy market has consistently been one of the hottest markets in Houston is our developers have taken their role seriously and have created award-winning and world-renowned communities such as: Cinco Ranch, Grand Lakes, Seven Meadows, Cross Creek Ranch, Firethorne and even the older areas like Kelliwood and Green Trails. Richmond and Fulshear are also areas with great new communities such as: Lakes of Bella Terra, Fulshear Creek Crossing and Weston Lakes.

So how much difference does a neighborhood make when comparing similar houses? Well, it could mean more available amenities to improve quality of life, a Home Owner’s Association that has stringent rules and enough capital to take care of the community, and when you plan to sell in the future: the difference of a quicker sale for top dollar or an extended stay on the market and less than you hope to sell for in the future.

When searching for a home in the Katy market, make sure your Realtor knows the area well because “where you buy” is often more important than “what you buy”, which makes for very big deal… indeed.

Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors is ranked as Houston’s Market Leader

May 20, 2010

by REAL Trends 500

HOUSTON, TX – May 13, 2010 – Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors ranks as the market leader in residential real estate in Houston, Texas, as reported in 2010 REAL Trends 500. The annual report was released this month by Denver-based REAL Trends, Inc., a leading source of analysis and information on the residential brokerage industry.

Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors achieved Houston Market Leader status with more closed transactions and more closed volume than any other residential real estate company in Houston in 2009.

The company also ranked as one of the largest regional brands in the country. Gibraltar Mortgage Services and Greater Houston Financial Services, in Prudential Gary Greene’s Home Services division, were also recognized as national leaders in their fields.

Marilyn Eiland and Mark Woodroof serve as partners of Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors, which was founded in Houston in 1963 as Gary Greene, Realtors and became part of the Prudential Real Estate Network in 2000. The real estate services company provides a single point of access to all move-related service needs.

“We strive to be a trusted source for the consumer during what is often a difficult time of transition,” said Eiland. “We are proud of our leadership and our expert sales professionals who continue to not only meet, but exceed the expectations of our clients,” added Woodroof.

Recently, Eiland and Woodroof were honored by Prudential Real Estate Services as Broker of the Year, an award given for outstanding professionalism, honesty, integrity, business savvy and community service. In presenting the honor, James Mallozzi, chairman and CEO of Prudential Real Estate and Relocation Services, Inc., commended them on their perfect blend of leadership and ownership. “Even in challenging times, this company has grown in size, stature and influence and represents a strong force in Texas real estate.”

Prudential Gary Greene offices cover the Houston area, with locations in Houston’s Inner Loop area, Bay Area, Champions/Louetta, Friendswood, Galveston, Katy, Memorial, Northeast Houston and Wallisville, the Northwest/ 290 corridor, Sugar Land, The Woodlands, and its newest office in the booming community of Cypress.

On the philanthropic front, the company has made a difference through their fundraising efforts for the Sunshine Kids Foundation, which they have supported for the past 17 years. In 2009, they donated over $330,000 to the nonprofit that offers support to children with cancer and their families. Their work for the Sunshine Kids includes the annual Craig Biggio Celebrity Gala and Golf Classic and other events throughout the year sponsored by their branch offices.

G. W. Bailey, executive director of the Sunshine Kids Foundation, said: “Marilyn Eiland, Mark Woodroof, and their whole organization, have made it possible for us to create more activities for more kids with cancer – not only in Houston but all across the U.S. and Canada. They have had an enormous, incalculable impact on our operations.”

Found Dog in Katy, TX

September 28, 2011

I love helping our Katy TX residents find lost pets. This was sent to me by Lisa, who posts lost pets in Grand Lakes and surrounding areas.

This cute little dog was found in Cinco Ranch, the Katy Creek Ranch subdivision.  No collar or micro-chip.  Please contact Jamie if you know this little one, 469-360-2642.

Found Dogs in Katy, TX – Two Schnauzers!

September 8, 2011

by Christi Borden

Found Two Schnauzer in Katy TX!

These two adorable Schnauzer have been found near the intersection of Coffee Bend and Westheimer Parkway…near Parkway Oaks Subdivision in Katy, TX. They’re clearly someone’s pets, and were taken to the vet by the wonderful person that found them (Karen Edmunson). They had no chips and no tags. The vet is kenneling them for the night, but we MUST find the owners ASAP!

Lost Dogs in Katy – Pit Bulls – Bena and Boomer!

September 8, 2011

by Christi Borden

I am often contacted by loving pet owners who are missing their pets. Please help this family… from Bonnie Vargo.

Lost dogs in Katy, TX - Bena and Boomer

“MISSING PIT BULLS:  The white one is male. He is Boomer. The tan one is Bena (short for Solabena). She is the mother. Both of them have tags.  Alex rescued them from a man who was using Bena as a baby maker. They were so scared in the beginning when Alex took them in. Now they are so sweet and trusting.

We had them for 7 years and I think someone stole them. We have put up flyers and have searched all over for them. The neighbor was watching them while we were in Corpus Christi this past weekend. They both came up missing on Saturday. We are all heartbroken. I pray that they are not being harmed. Thanks for your help.”

If you have seen these pets, please post here or let me know at christi@chrisitiborden.comso that I can help their owner find them. Thank you.