Astrodome & Real Estate Property Debate

The Houston Sports board,, to hear staff recommendations on what to do with the real estate property of the Astrodome site today. The debate whether or not to tear it down or save it from destruction continues today, but as the years of stagnation due to no use start to accumulate, it seems apparent that the old faithful

Astrodome & Real Estate
8th Wonder of the World

Dome full of amazing sports memories, the first of it’s kind, and not to mention the 8th wonder of the world at one time, is doomed to be taken down sooner rather than later. Valuable real estate is at stake along with the notion of “out with the old & in with the new” comes to mind. According to Houston Chronicle’s writer, Kiah Collier,, Harris County has said the amount of money it still owes on the Astrodome is about $30 million. As the Harris County Sports & Convention Corp. prepares to present a publicly funded redevelopment proposal for the 48-yer old stadium, however, county staff say that outstanding debt is actually less than $6 million. “There is no debt that is mortgaged by the Astrodome itself, so the thing is, they could tear it down today & no one is going to say, ‘We need our $30 million,'” said the county’s Chief Budget Officer Bill Jackson.
The fate of the Dome become clearer Wednesday when sports corporation staff is expected to recommend a redevelopment proposal to the agency’s governing board. If the board approves it, the plan will be presented to Harris County Commissioners Court,,  for consideration next week.
Many Proposals
The sports corporation last week said it had received 19 proposals from private individuals & groups for repurposing the former 8th Wonder of the World. Among them: converting the stadium into a restaurant & retail “tourist mecca,” a business incubator & park, a real estate bonanza deal. If any proposal meets the sport’s corporation’s criteria, then they could be presented to the board. If Commissioners Court OKs any plan, it is assumed taxpayers will be asked to foot at least some portion of the bill, making the question of how much is owed on the decaying structure relevant.
Conclusion for now
The county owes less than $6 million on the decaying structure, on which it spends a $2 million a year for insurance, utilities & upkeep for the enormous real estate property. Come November, the question could be whether taxpayers are willing to approve another bond to save the Dome. Jackson, the county budget chief, said he plans to look for a variety of ways to minimize the price tag of any bond package sent to voters, if that is what happens. He said millions potentially could be generated by naming rights deals, some kind of building use fee & auctioning off various salvaged building parts, including the 60,000 seats. But I believe that Houston voters are tired of hearing about the future of the Dome much less footing part of the bill for it’s continued existence. After all other famous landmarks like old Yankees stadium (NY Yankees & NY Giants), Shea Stadium (NY Mets), Hoosier Dome (Indianapolis Colts), Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati Bengals & Reds), Veterans Stadium (Philadelphia Phillies & Eagles), Kingdome (Seattle Seahawks), Mile High Stadium (Denver Broncos), Texas Stadium ( Dallas Cowboys), & the infamous Boston Garden (Boston Celtics & Bruins) all have met their demise. Although it will be a sad day in the history of Houston sports and landmark architecture when the Dome is torn down, progress will continue & change is one definite constant in our lives that we so affectionately call the human race.

Economic frontier in Houston – Good time to move here

Ecomomy of Houston Skyline
Houston Skyline

According to the Houston Chronicle,, on Friday, June 7, 2013, the economic frontier of Houston is looking rather bright. A report from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis,, this past Thursday, stated that the economic activity in oil & gas exploration & production boosted sales in the state of Texas, especially in the Houston areas. Also, the gross domestic product – the total value of all economic activity within a state adjusted for inflation – increased 4.8 % in Texas in 2012. The U.S. average for 2012 was 2.5 %. While the energy industry contributed the most to economic growth in Texas, durable goods manufacturing, which includes the making of oil & gas field machinery, was also an important factor for the state. Only North Dakota, in 2012, experienced a better economic growth rate than Texas.
Now is a great time to move to Texas, especially in the Houston metropolitan area and Westside Houston or better known as the Energy Corridor, which includes Katy, Sugar Land, & Cypress, has affluent areas with excellent schools, great neighborhoods and convenient residential living life styles. Moving to these and other great areas of the city can not be any easier with Laura Hill of Laura Hill Realtor as your personal Realtor, Call anytime to make an appointment to discuss your real estate needs.

Belfiore Condominium’s – Signs of a more viable housing market in the Houston area

According to Erin Mulvaney of the Houston Chronicle,, A high-rise luxury condominium project planned in uptown Houston could be a sigBelfiore Condominiumsn of a more viable market than in previous years. The 26-story Belfiore will have 46 residences, including two pent-houses, on 2 acres at the southeast corner of Post Oak Lane & South Wynden Drive. The project is led by developer Giorgio Borlenghi with the Interfin Cos.,, who has developed high-rise residential buildings since the early 1980’s, including Four Lear Towers, Villa d’Este Condo’s & Montebello.
Borlenghi said the new condo tower will be the “most luxurious place in town.” By keeping the building to only 46 units on such a large site, we will truly be able to provide our residents with a level of privacy, exclusivity & service unlike any other property in Houston, he said.
The units will be the largest available for condominiums in Houston, starting at 4,600 sq. ft., including 700 sq. ft. of terraces. The units will have 11 foot ceilings & views of downtown & Tanglewood. There will be a 24 hour concierge & valet service & underground parking.
Construction is expected to begin early next year with a target completion date of spring 2016. The units are expected to have a starting sales price of $600 per sq. ft. or about 2.8 million. Borlenghi said this is a good time to build condominiums because of the improved economy & a demand from empty nesters who want to downsize, but only to a certain point. 14 people have already purchased units.
“The recent demand & real estate market is on the upswing,” said Borlenghi. John Breeding, president of the Uptown Management District, said 12 residential projects are under construction in the immediate area. Breeding praised Borlenghi for quality architecture & attention to detail. He said the developer also has a unique sense of when to move early on projects. “This is the first edge of the wave of perhaps additional condominium construction,” Breeding said.
With the economy improving and getting better now is the time to act in regard to buying or selling real estate, so look no further than Laura Hill at Laura Hill Realtor,, for all of your residential & commercial property needs.

LeAnn Rimes – Spitfire

LeAnn Rimes - New Album Spitfire
LeAnn Rimes – New Album Spitfire

LeAnn Rimes has been a staple in country music since the first time she appeared on the scene at an very early age of 13. Her amazing, prodigy of a voice has captivated all of us. I personally am a big fan of hers and always enjoy listening to her voice and music. She is one of those rare talents that come along just every once in a while that stays true to her roots, the little girl from Texas with a big voice. In the very beginning she was heralded as the second coming of Patsy Cline. She did cross over to pop music and in 1997 recorded, “How Do I Live” ballad which still to this day stands out as one of the most successful singles in music history.
Rimes, now 30, for the past several years has been in the “negative” spotlight, totally unrelated to her music. She has had martial problems with Dean Sheremet’ an affair in 2009 with actor Eddie Cibrian while working on the movie, “Northern Lights.”, and later married Cibrian in 2011. An all out ongoing feud between Rimes & Cibrian’s ex, Brandi Glanville, remains in the public eye as well as fodder for gossip sites and rags. Just this past Tuesday, June 5, 2013, LeAnn Rimes performed her title track, “Spitfire” from the same album on the Jay Leno show,, which is rumored to be about her struggles with Brand Glanville. LeAnn gave an angst-ridden performance of the song, which included the lyrics, “I only got one burning desire to let the whole town know that you’re a dirty little lair.” Rimes says, “If I spent as much time thinking and plotting all these ideas of how to hurt someone, what my next move is, I would be exhausted.”
Instead of ignoring the rumors, Rimes faced them head on with her latest, 11th studio album, Spitfire. Spitfire is a way for LeAnn to tell the truth on her own terms, to express what the “real” truth is, a way to look at her life for the past few years, to bring all of the rumors & whispers to the surface to expose the truth as well as herself. I have to respect a woman like this, who is not afraid of telling the truth, good or bad, telling her story from an emotional point of view so everyone really sees who LeAnn Rimes really is. After all, LeAnn Rimes is just human like the rest of us and it takes great courage, respect and security to let everyone in on her personal & professional life.
“I just said, Screw it. I’m gonna be myself. What do I have to lose by telling the truth? What do I have to lose by showing people who I really am, Rimes says. She co-wrote the album with producer Darrell Brown & was inspired by the confessional tunes of Adele, Ray LaMontagne & David Gray. Rimes says, “You wanna know how I felt when I was laying in bed & going through a divorce and not knowing what to do & the guilt that I’ve had on my shoulders? I felt pathetic. You wanna really know how I feel? Listen to the record.”
With Rimes new release, Spitfire, she feels perhaps for the very first time that she has finally found her “own” footing and in a way starting over. LeAnn is very proud of this Album, not taking anything for granted, not looking past any song and relishing in the fact that her blood, sweat & tears that she created, produced and made happen has really paid off for her regardless how commercially successful the album is. She feels like she is on solid ground again, making her own decisions, controlling her own life destinies. LeAnn says, “The performances are real… I became one whole person making a record.”
Thank you LeAnn Rimes for exposing a little bit of your life, honesty, love, grace & humility because let’s face it, we all need those great qualities in life.

Fallen Firefighters – May 31, 2013 – Houston, Tx

Anne Sullivan Firefighter
Anne Sullivan Firefighter
Matthew Renaud Firefighter
Matthew Renaud Firefighter
Robert Garner
Robert Garner Firefighter
Robert Bebee Firefighter
Robert Bebee Firefighter

All of our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the firefighters who were killed this past Friday, May 31, 2013, while battling a blaze at a hotel on the Southwest Freeway as well as to Captain Ruy Lozano who is in “extremely critical” condition according to Memorial Hermann hospital, According to Anita Hassan, Carol Christian & Dane Schiller from the Houston Chronicle,, Anne Sullivan, 24, was the youngest of the four firefighters killed Friday. She was a 2007 graduate of Dulles High School in Sugar Land. She graduated in April from the Houston Fire Department Training Academy’s “fast track” class for certified firefighters, having previously finished the Wharton County Junior College Fire Academy’s certification program. “She pushed herself so much to achieve goals,” her boyfriend, Daniel Lipsanen, said. She was 5’2″, but acted like she was 10 feet tall. Sullivan, who worked at Fire Station 68, was the 2nd Houston female firefighter to die on duty. Lipsanen described Sullivan as “a little piece of heaven that God sent down for everybody.”
Robert Bebee, 41, was an engine operator & EMT began his career in August 2001 and signed on at the Jersey Village station 3 years later. Bebee is described as having a great smile & personality, & was wonderful at making personal connections when he responded to emergency medical calls in Jersey Village. He never complained & always took extra initiative, said Jersey Village Fire Chief Mark Bitz.
Robert Garner, 29, loved his fellow fire crew at Fire Station 68 just as much as being a firefighter himself. “He really enjoyed being a part of the camaraderie,” said his older sister, Nicole Garner. “He made it seem great.” He joined HFD in 2010. Although the 2nd youngest of four children, Robert Garner often seemed like the older brother, protective of his three sisters.
Captain EMT Matthew Renaud was the highest ranking of the four killed on Friday. Matthew joined the department in 2001 & was with Fire Station 68. Sweet & always ready to lend a hand, the 35-year-old firefighter loved his family & enjoyed being an uncle to his toddler nephew, said Margie Knudson, his brother’s mother-in-law. Renaud was recently honored for valor by HFD. “He was just a hero in every aspect of his life,”… a wonderful person, said, Knudson.

As homebuilding booms, projects for your handyman also take off

Handyman Masters
John & Trenna Briley own 3 Houston-area franchises of Handyman Masters.

According to Erin Mulvaney from , a rebounding economy & a residential building boom have sparked a boomlet for the handyman. “As we see homebuilding rise, we go right up with it,” said Andy Bell, founder & president of Denver-based Handyman Matters, which handles jobs as small as fixing a tear in a screen door to projects as ambitious as remodeling a bathroom. Bell said Thursday, 5.30.13, that he plans to perhaps triple the number of franchise outlets in the Houston area following near-record business here in 2012 & the beginning of this year. He said 30% of his business comes from franchises in Texas. Earnings were up 10% in 2012 over a year earlier. Bell said the company earned $25 million last year.
“Construction & home repair is just going crazy right now,” Bell said. Houston’s new home market continues to heat up, with home construction up 33% during the first 3 months of 2013. John & Trenna Briley, who started in 2004 & now operate Handyman Matters franchises in Houston, Sugar Land & Cypress, say their personnel can handle more than 1,100 tasks for residential or commercials properties. When the economy is good, when people are building homes, we get busier,” Briley said. “It looks like it’s going to be a record-breaking year for us.”

College Questions? Looking for a job while choosing a college

According to an article by L.M. Sixel in the Houston Chronicle,, she takes a great look at what questions to ask prospective colleges before committing to them. She states, “Besides the usual inquiries about average class size & graduation rates, I’m going to be asking which companies come regularly to recruit their graduates.” “While I’m sure it will annoy my son – after all, which question during a tour doesn’t annoy a teenager? – the answer will offer an insight into whether it’s a good fit & a good investment. You might want to ask your kids, do you want to work with a blue-chip multinational energy company? Do you want a job with one of the big accounting firms? Or maybe you prefer a boutique law firm specializing in patent law. It makes sense to find out before you, or your parents, write that first tuition check whether your dream employer or your dream industry actually recruits on the campus of your dreams.
Every school has a list of employers that regularly show up to interview perspective job candidates. They’re at every career fair. They get to know the professors, so they have a pipeline to the best graduates. They sponsor research & have internship openings for up-and-coming students. The key is to find out which companies come to your college campus of choice & whether that’s where you want to work.
Beyond Energy

It’s also important to determine whether a university college attracts a variety of industries to campus. Oil & gas is the 800-pound gorilla in Houston, but not just energy companies that come to set up recruiting tables. Of the nearly 700 companies that come on campus, many have nothing to do with energy. There are medical device makers, law firms, small consulting firms & financial firms that want engineers for huge data-mining jobs.
Ask the Recruiter
Another way to find out how to land a job is to ask the person you’d likely approach: the recruiter at your dream company about where they find their best & brightest. According to Kim Ferrarie, Senior Vice President at Air Liquide,, she first looks at The University of Texas, Texas A&M University, Georgia Tech & Purdue University. “We want to go to recruit where we have familiarity,” Ferrarie said.
So, make sure you do your homework before you commit to which college you would like to go to by asking the right questions. And someone who can always give you the right answers in the real estate world is Laura Hill Realtor,


Brighton – Give Back to Kids

Brighton - Give Back to Kids - Local Katy Realty
Help support kid’s arts programs across America.

Helping Brighton,, “Give Back to Kids” art programs is a great way to help our future generation. I encourage everyone to help to inspire and develop these children into the artists they choose to become. Especially if you like Brighton’s products, it’s a no brainer. It is such an awesome testimony to see children change right before our eyes into these talented, inspiring artists. They end up influencing everyone around them including “us” adults. The talents include everything from painting to music, to dancing and so much more. To witness when these kids learn something so valuable that’s new to them, it’s a wonderful and changing point in their life. There’s so many positive outcomes which result from these donations for our future generation. Thank you Brighton and everyone who participates.


Realtor Viewpoint

Realtor's advise on emotions
Don’t let your emotions get the best of you when negotiating real estate.

Realtor’s knowledge can help you avoid mistakes in negotiations
According to Danny Frank of Prudential Anderson Properties,  & the 2013 chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors, in Sunday’s May 19, 2013 article from, negotiating in a real estate transaction is exciting or terrifying, you won’t get the things you don’t ask for. If there is something special you want, speak up! Your Realtor, Laura Hill Realtor,, is an expert at hashing out contracts so both parties are content. Whatever your opinion of the process of reaching consensus may be, here are some mistakes to avoid when negotiating a deal.

People, including some real estate agents, often let emotion dictate their negotiations. I recently had an agent lose their cool, lost their perspective and threatened a law suit 2 days before closing over $100 worth of curtains. It can get really ludicrous sometimes because agents allow their emotions control way too much of the current situation instead of coming to a calm resolution of issues like I always prescribe to. Cooler heads prevailed and the closing happened on the closing date.

Don’t get angry when a buyer presents a low offer for your home. He’s not insulting you, and he doesn’t think your house is poorly maintained. The buyer needs to start the negotiations somewhere. He may be testing the waters to see how low you’ll go. Or his negotiation tactics could have been formed where negotiating is handled differently. Whatever the case, if you see the offer as an insult and choose not to counter, you may be cutting off the process that would have resulted in a sale.
On the buying side, don’t get bent out of shape if a seller rejects your offer or counters with his original asking price. You may have determined that you presented a very fair price for the house. Good for you. Try again or move on.
It’s not personal!!!
Keeping emotions out of a deal also means maintaining a business relationship & not feeling sorry for the other side. If the seller rejects your fair offer based on “needing more money for my retirement fund,” ask for a reason that’s relevant to the property sale. On the other hand, if a buyer said they can’t afford your asking price, but you believe you’re asking fair market value, stick to your guns. Maybe yours isn’t the house for them.

What’s the lowest price you’ll accept for your home? What concessions, if any, will you make? Answer these questions before you put your home on the market and revisit them if your home isn’t seeing the activity you hoped for. And for buyers, what’s the absolute most you can afford? How close are you willing to come to that number? Whether you’re buying or selling, be sure to share this info with your Realtor so he or she knows your priorities.

Splitting the difference
Whether you’re buying or selling, don’t allow an extreme offer to affect your counter. Are you willing to jeopardize the sale of you house because the buyer wants the entryway mirrors to stay? As a buyer, how will your monthly payments really be affected if the seller won’t drop the price another $5,000? Sometimes you have to take a step back to make sure you’re not over emphasizing one detail that is standing between you and your objective. This is when your Realtor should come in and explain the “real” pros & cons of each transaction in order for the buyers & sellers to have a better perspective and view of the bigger picture. At Laura Hill Realtor, we are always putting our clients interest first to make sure they receive the best service and to deliver their needs to them and their family. We can help you analyze the current market and put together a specific, detailed buying or selling strategy that will always benefit you.

Real Estate Area Housing Starts Rose 33% in 1st Qtr. 2013

New Housing Starts up 33% 1st quarter 2013
Houston area up 33% in 1st qtr.

According to Nancy Sarnoff of, activity in Houston’s new home market, still just about half of what it was during the housing boom (2006) is heating up again. Area housing starts rose 33% during the first 3 months of 2013, as more buyers jumped into the market. The inventory of existing houses for sale has been shrinking as demand spikes & owners remain cautious about selling. The result has been a seller’s market in many neighborhoods. Homes are selling as quickly as 1-2 days. According to Metrostudy, builders started 6,462 homes in the 1st Qtr. 2013. It was the first time in five years that quarterly starts went above 6,000. New Housing starts are especially up in the Cinco Ranch (Katy, Tx) & The Woodlands area, The time to sell is obviously now, but with home sales prices, construction costs going up, & low interest rates, the time to buy is also now. Homes in the Katy & Woodlands areas are a hot spot for real estate buyers & sellers now. Like I always say, not having a Realtor agent when buying/selling a home or property is like going to court without an attorney. Look me up at