What's blooming? Gardeners share what they are growing in and around Houston

By By Melissa Ward Aguilar Summer has arrived. Gardeners are busy adding heat-tolerant plants to the garden as our spring bloomers wilt.
We asked gardeners to show us how their garden grows. Here’s what has been blooming around town in our neighbors’ gardens.
Send photos of your best blooms and gardening tips to melissa.aguilar@chron.com

From: Gardening

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

An Entire United States Spy Town Is Up for Auction

By Susanne Dwyer

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It’s not the first time that an entire American town has gone on the auction block, but it might be the most unusual.

Sugar Grove Station, W.Va. was originally a United States Navy military base to support part of the National Security Agency’s surveillance operation. Though the array of giant parabolic dishes that continue to track location and content of international telecommunications activity is still in operation and not part of the sale, they are completely obscured from view behind a thick forest one mile away. When it became unnecessary to house related analytical staff at the base, it was retired in the fall of 2015 and put up for auction to the highest bidder.

Built between 1960 and 2014, the fenced and gated town has private full-service utilities to support as many as 500 people on over 120 acres. Included are 80 homes on tree-lined residential streets in like-new condition, a swimming pool, bowling alley, youth daycare center, a community center with a fireplace (which was designed to function as a restaurant/bar), a gym, full-sized indoor basketball court, tennis and racquetball courts, a football field, a large playground with kiddie pool, and 12 guest cabins for visitors. There are also several large buildings for multiple use as well as a four-section hobby building for working on cars, woodworking shop and other creative pursuits. For community safety, a police station and fire station are already in place.

Sugar Grove is surrounded by the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests between the Allegheny Mountains and the south fork of the Potomac River. It is located within a 13,000-square-mile area known as the National Radio Quiet Zone, so cell phones, WiFi and any equipment operating on radio frequencies are restricted from use. The Quiet Zone was established in 1958 by Congress so as not to interfere with the operation of the nearby parabolic dishes or the National Radio Astronomy Observatory 30 miles away.

Sugar Grove Station is perfect as a corporate retreat, (cult headquarters), academic campus, (cult headquarters), or corporate training center (cult headquarters). (Listen, I saw “Big Love,” and I know a cult community when I see one. No WiFi!? That can only be an academic campus…..on a cult compound!)

Nevertheless, the area’s now up for auction with a minimum bid of $1 million. The auction end date is to be determined.

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This post was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Check the blog daily for top real estate tips and trends.

From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

6 Ways to Turn off Your Computer and Increase Sales

By Susanne Dwyer

The goldmine isn’t online. Everyone is looking to the Internet for their next lead. I’m as guilty of it as anyone. I was one of the first real estate trainers to offer online classes, I was the absolute first to do a podcast, and I have taught a lot about how to build relationships on the web. But over the years, I’ve seen something happening. A little over a decade ago in 2004, when I started my training company, people were on the web, but the noise factor of interruptions and text messages and messenger and countless other apps weren’t there. You could get through to people with online messages. They actually paid attention long enough to hear what you had to say. But those days are gone.

Too Much Noise
Today there is simply too much noise online for anyone to really get your message. If you doubt this, think about the last time you got online to do something and then got off again an hour or more later and realized that you never did the thing you set out to do. It’s crazy distracting out there!

Old School is the Way to Go
The fact is that you can’t sell a house online. You have to get in person with someone to list or sell a property. That means that if you can start the conversation when you are face-to-face, your chances of closing a deal are exponentially greater than trying to follow up on some anonymous Internet lead.

But It Doesn’t Mean That You Have to Go Low Tech
Do you want to build a market AND use technology? No problem! Here are some great ideas that give you both the tech edge and the ability to look people in the eye.

  1. Start a Meetup Group about Real Estate: You can run events once a month about different aspects of the real estate business. People who are looking to buy or sell are the ones most likely to attend. You can even get people started repairing their credit so they can afford more.
  2. Find Classes Held by Financial Planners, Attorneys, and CPAs: People with money attend these workshops. Often they will have real estate needs as well. You can learn something from the class, network with the people running the program, and potentially pick up some clients along the way. That’s a triple win!
  3. Hold a House Cooling Party for Your Sellers: Instead of buying a closing gift, host a party for the sellers to say good-bye to their house. Then make a video for the sellers by asking the guests to tell stories of good memories they have from the house. Tell the guests that this video is going to be your closing gift for the sellers. Everyone you talk to will be so impressed that you care that you will immediately become their agent of choice when they look to buy or sell.
  4. Run a Home Staging Class at Your Local Home Depot: If you live near a Home Depot, offer to come in and teach a class on staging your home to sell. Homeowners who are in the pre-listing, fix-it-up stage will come out and you can get some good leads.
  5. Custom Landing Pages for Listings: Put a rider on each listing you own with a custom landing page for that listing (I know – this isn’t new) but as a pop-up before they get to the page, make a video talking about the home-buying process and why it’s important for a buyer to have an agent working for them. Then suggest that they call you to set up an appointment. And have an app that offers to call you right now if they just click the button. (Remember, the goal is to get to talk to them!)
  6. Go to Corporations in the Area and Offer to Be Their Real Estate Expert: Corporations are always looking for low or no-cost ways to offer additional perks to their employees. Offer to answer questions, provide insight, and generally be on call to their people for all their residential real estate needs. You can even take your blog posts and offer them to the corporation as content for their in-house newsletter – thereby giving all of their employees an introduction to you.

Each of these ideas uses technology without leaving you hiding behind it. And this is what technology is meant to do: provide leverage to make sales. So turn off your computer and go make some sales!

Kelle Sparta is the author of The Consultative Real Estate Agent and a leading real estate coach and trainer nationwide. To build a life and a business you can love visit www.SpartaSuccess.com.

From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Economist Says Summer May be the Hottest Season to Buy and Sell

By Susanne Dwyer

While spring is traditionally the busiest time for real estate sales, this summer could prove to be the hottest time for buying or selling a home, according to a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University.

“From a buyer’s perspective you have more choice, but you’re also competing against far more buyers,” says Ken Johnson, Ph.D., a professor of finance and associate dean at FAU’s College of Business, who also has sold hundreds of homes as a real estate broker. “Sellers are also looking to sell over the summer, particularly if they have children and want to get a deal done before school starts again.”

U.S. new home sales posted their strongest month in more than eight years in April, while existing home sales rose for the second straight month, spurred by steady job growth and historically low interest rates. Johnson doesn’t see the strong demand for housing slowing anytime soon.

“In some cities, especially in the Midwest, prices have plenty of room to go up,” says Johnson, co-author of the quarterly Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index. “Real estate is still a really good buy in places like Cincinnati, Chicago and Cleveland.”

While he has some concern about some cities such as Dallas, Denver and Houston, where the real estate market has been particularly hot, Johnson doesn’t foresee a dramatic downturn in prices for most of the country. In South Florida, where Johnson lives, fundamental factors supporting the housing market such as rising personal incomes, appear to be strong.

However, prices are probably too high for those looking to buy real estate as an investment right now, especially in certain markets, said Johnson, noting the difficulty buyers will have in finding a good deal right now.

“In markets like South Florida, Seattle and Portland, you may find you’re going to start to see lower probabilities that you’ll be able to successfully market your property,” he says. “But while you may see extended marketing time and prices going flat, there’s no reason to believe there’s going to be a big dent in prices in these cities.”

Johnson urges buyers to get prequalified for a mortgage before they start shopping. He also discourages buyers from making the purchase contingent on the sale of their own home or asking to take possession of the home before closing. That’s a prescription for disaster, he said.

“Be up front. Disclose pertinent information,” he says. “Do not ask the seller to take on risk that might seem trivial to you. You have to think about the other party.”

Sellers should make themselves and their home available to be shown by real estate agents and make sure it’s as pristine as possible, Johnson said. Make necessary improvements such as new paint, fixtures and flooring. But don’t go too far, Johnson warned.

“Be careful,” he says. “What you think is a nice improvement is another man’s gold shag carpeting.”

For more information, visit www.fau.edu.

From: Remax Real Estate Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893