Friday, February 27, 2015

Pearland Realtor must endure urological exam . . .

Oh boy!  Today is my first urology exam with a bonafide urologist.  This is about as exciting as a first visit with a proctologist.

Now why am I whining?  It's just a physical exam of my body -- we ALL have one and they're all virtually the same.  Perhaps I shouldn't have googled "what to expect."  There's an internet article entitled "the 7 things a man can expect at his first urological exam."  (OK, they squeeze the dread into number 4 . . . though there it is . . . right in front of me.)

Actually, there it is . . . right in front of him/her!  Genital exam.  Digital rectal exam to check that old man prostate.  Ugh.

I will use my own inner strength to overcome.  What do you do when faced with difficulty?  I put "mind over matter."  I summon my deep down ability to live with a positive outlook and control any negativity I encounter.

Things I've recently removed from my life include full body itch, a symptom of end-stage renal failure.  First, I went to the dermatologist and obtained lots of prescriptions for skin itch.  These cremes were expensive as were the derm visits.  In fact, my nephrologist warned me that some people have committed suicide because of the itch!  That's all I needed to hear to reach down into my soul, find the place to "bury" the itch, and it now rarely bothers me.  No cremes.  No further dermatology treatments.

Another of those is energy.  End-stage renal failure causes chronic, extreme fatigue.  In other words, you wake up feeling like you did when you went to bed.  Not any more.  I always say that my morning workouts are for weight control -- and to an extent they are -- but the real reason is to keep myself going with high energy.  (Of course, the bi-weekly shots I get for $745 each help!  I haven't stopped those!)

So, I can overcome the urology exam.  In fact, I think I'll wear lace panties.  Come on, doc . . . take a look-see!  (As my first mentor Tom Hopkins taught me, "do what you fear most and you control fear.")  Let my control-freak flag fly!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Charge the agents for leads? Hmmm . . . not me!

I read this morning that NRT, the brokerage wing of franchise giant Realogy (which owns Coldwell Banker, Sotheby's, ERA, Corcoran, and others) has launched a national real estate search portal called in 42 markets.  Their attempt is to try to compete with Trulia and Zillow (or is it now called Zulia or Trillow after the merger/buyout....hmmm....) was unsuccessful in stopping the flow of listings to them (so far).

So this new website for these companies seems to follow their usual model . . . the company generates the leads and sells them to the agents for a referral fee.

While I do agree that lead generation should be a primary focus of a real estate brokerage company, it is different at RE/MAX Top Realty.  Here, we have a program called "SWEATHORSES:  21 days of effective lead generation" where we don't "feed" leads to the agents; rather, we teach them how to generate their OWN leads and build their OWN businesses!  This is a completely different philosophy and business model.

I know that many of my competitors have sunk to the "generate/sell leads" position; however, we just won't do it . . . at least not while I'm around!  lol  (still need a

Even if some agents don't "get it" and leave for the codependent model of buying leads from their office, then so be it.  This is a business for entrepreneurs and requires diligent efforts to learn and grow.  Real estate is NOT a sales job . . . it is business building!  You build your own business within the business . . . and we teach, coach, mentor, model behavior, and embrace mastery of skills as you do.  Systems are duplicable . . . learn the best.

Are you a true entrepreneur?  Or, do you wish someone would just sell you customers?  We want business people, intent on building and living a life of abundance.

Build right.  Build your business.  Build a system.  Why fool around with anything but The Top?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Buy a Home in Pearland or Houston - it's worth the sacrifice!

house orange.jpgThere are many reasons people want a home with the most frequent responses being a place of their own, to raise their family, share with their friends and feel safe and secure.  These are all strong motivations fueling the American Dream of owning your own home.
The motivation is so dominant that buyers are willing to make sacrifices to have their dream come true.  According to the 2014 National Association of REALTORS® Home Buyers and Sellers Survey, 72% of first-time buyers cut spending on luxury or non-essential items.  They also cut spending on entertainment, clothes and even cancelled vacation plans.
The value of getting their own home is more important than the immediate gratification of things that are considered less important.  While qualifying guidelines were increased last year, there are still more buyers purchasing homes at near record-low mortgage rates.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I'm staying weird and staying different . . . are you?

Wow, Graham Moore's Oscar-acceptance speech last night seemed to touch the whole world.  I love to hear testimonials like this, because suicide amongst children who don't seem to "fit in" like the "cool kids," is a bigger problem than most realize.

I still don't "fit in."  I'm the square peg for the round way, unless you whittle the edges. Growing up as "the fat kid," like Al Roker (who was teased unmercifully as "Fat Albert"), I developed a thick skin for the taunting I received.  But many kids aren't able to do that and take a different way.

For those kids, there is a national effort called the "It Gets Better" Project and has had the support of major league ball teams, actors/actresses, and even the president himself.  Check it out at . . . a project I've personally supported.

For us grown-ups, being "weird" or "different" is what makes us stand out and, like Graham Moore, can be the source of your own personal style or brand (as we Realtors like to say).  So, as Muttsy (my mother) used to say, "honey, use what you got!"

Turn it around!  Use your "gifts" to make a difference!  If you struggle to be like everyone else, you'll end up like everyone else -- the status quo.  To really be successful, you must learn to harness your differences into your strengths.  Create an enigma!  Be different!  Be YOU!

I make a living by studying and reading people and their intentions.  I was recently at a state convention, and I know that I am a walking puzzle -- others are unsure about me . . . and people like to be sure of others.  (Of course, this is in my own mind, though I consciously try not to fit in......staying true to the premise of this blog!  lol)

I also look at how my RE/MAX office differs from others.  I work very hard to build "Top Realty" as a separate and distinct advantage for agents who want to achieve in the real estate business by making our office "different."  We seek all kinds of people, and love to attract others to our "creative, collaborative culture."  Our dedicated staff is an attraction in an of itself, as they work to empower agents to be everything they want to be.

We know that the pathway to success is paved with hard work, but it helps to be different.  Be weird. I'll continue to do so.  I hope you do, too.  (Thank you, Graham Moore . . . great points.)

Are you interested in associating with a diverse, creative group of top performing Realtors?  Consider joining The Top!  Call Timothy at 713-558-2555.  -Sam Ferreri, Director of Vision, RE/MAX Top Realty

Friday, February 20, 2015

A house paid for and $50,000 cash in the bank . . .

Today I'm having lunch with a man who is my best (living) long-term friend for life!  In fact, three of us are meeting at one of our old favorite restaurants to hash old times, since he no longer lives in Houston.  (no hash involved . . . way too old for that . . . lol)  In fact, he stood as "best man" in my wedding in 1983 . . . ah, those good ol' days.

What's remarkable is that he and I used to sit on his porch for hours and hours, drinking beer, and dreaming of having "a house paid for" and "$50,000 cash in the bank."  "If we could just get that," we mused, "we'd be set for life!"

Well fast forward . . . he's got more rent houses than I do and I think most are paid for.  I know the cash is no longer the issue, but ironically, we both still "bust our butts" every day at the grind of hard labor!  What happened to the dream?  Is it deferred?  Did it dry up like a raisin in the sun?  (Thanks, Lorraine Hansberry.)

I know, I know . . . now you're asking, "who's Lorraine Hansberry?"  Well, you may remember a movie made from a Broadway play entitled "A Raisin in the Sun" starring Sidney Poitier which debuted in 1961.  Lorraine wrote the stage play.

However, a poem that inspired her was entitled "A Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes.  It inspired me and made me ask the questions so many years ago:

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

Pardon me while I get a bit sentimental . . . perhaps at lunch today we'll answer the question . . . or do I already know?  

What happened to your dreams from yesteryear?  What are they for tomorrow?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Pearland Arts League Opens "Top Gallery" Today . . . are you coming?

Did you know that you're invited?  PARTY THIS EVENING!

You are!  To the opening show for the Pearland Arts League, a collection of local artists who've hung some of their beautiful artwork -- paintings and photography -- throughout the hallowed halls of RE/MAX Top Realty.

Why not stop by on your way home from work, 5:30-7:30, at The Top for FREE WINE and hors d'ouvres?  Or, if it's not on your way, it's a great opportunity to network with some amazing people.

Come join the fun!

Most of the paintings are for sale . . . and I've had my eye on a couple of pieces for days as the artists themselves have been hanging their work.

Participate in our "collaborative canvas" in the TopRealtyUniversity room in the back . . . artists will be standing by to help you with your "addition" to this original work of art.

Here's a link with more details, including a video.  It's FREE:

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Save on Homeowner's Insurance

iStock_000029570462-250.jpgInsurance is a way to hedge the risk of a possible loss on an asset that a person or entity cannot afford.  The cost of the coverage is determined by risk and exposure to the insurer and reflected in the premium.

Another way to say it is: don’t buy insurance when you can afford the loss.  If you have a mortgage on your home, you must have insurance.  It is probably prudent for most people to have property insurance but certain coverage might be avoided because you can afford the loss if you were to have an occurrence.

  1. Call your current agent and review your insurance coverage.  Ask if there are any available discounts whether your property qualifies for now or after certain improvements are made.  Monitored alarm systems, dead bolts, smoke detectors, updated electrical, certain types and ages of roofs among other things may be eligible for individual discounts. 
  2. Compare the newly revised coverage and premium with other reputable agencies and insurers.  Shopping can be time consuming but experts agree that the exercise can be valuable and should be considered every few years. 
  3. Deductibles are an easy way to affect the premium based on the initial amount of loss that the insured wants to assume.  The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.  Determine the amount of risk you want to assume and select an appropriate deductible.
  4. Consider bundling your home and auto policies for possible discounts and leverage for better service.
  5. Don’t become a co-insurer.  Most policies stipulate that a building must be insured for at least a certain percentage, usually 80% of its insured value to be able to collect the full amount of a partial loss.  Insured value is not always the same as market value.  The land is not considered in the value but replacement cost of the dwelling is.

It isn’t possible to purchase insurance after a loss; it must be purchased before a loss is incurred.  Premiums are based on careful analysis of insurer’s loss and overhead expense plus a profit.  As a homeowner and an insured, it would be equally wise to analyze coverage, claim service, your risk tolerance and the premium you’ll pay for that coverage.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Never ask, "How are you?" (Someone might actually tell you!)

Ewk!  That awkward moment when you nonchalantly pass someone and ask, "hey, how are you doing?"  You, of course, expect the normal "fine, and you?" response.

But have you ever had someone stop you and say, "I'm glad you ask.  Oh my gosh, I've had so many problems.........blah blah blah."  Did you really mean to ask that?  Or did you simply use "how are you" as a standard greeting?

A good test of this is to go to a state convention.  I just returned from the annual big brand state convention in Tourist Town, Texas, having stayed indoors for 3 days at Shady Pines Resort . . . sort of prepares me for my future assisted living days, but oh well, it was as nice a hotel "resort" as there is around anywhere.

This place was so spread out, it reminded me of the Greater Houston Area where you can drive for 2 hours and still be in Houston!  I walked from one end to the other.  And with Stage 5 Kidney Failure, this is no minor feat!

"Oh, how am I doing?"  "I'm glad you asked!"  (Now is the time you can safely click to another screen because I'm about to tell you.  But when you're face-to-face with someone, you have to -- albeit painful -- listen to their crap.)

OK, so here's my list, directly from the internet (so you know it's true!):

Symptoms that can occur in stage 5 CKD include:
  • Loss of appetite - I force myself to eat!  lol
  • Nausea or vomiting - none yet
  • Headaches - regular - tend with Tylenol
  • Being tired - this is the worst. Being a "high-energy" person saves me somewhat.  But even after a night's sleep, I wake up tired.  I also treat this with regular workouts, which help.  Strangely, sometimes alcohol gives me a lift, but it takes two days to recover!  lol
  • Being unable to concentrate - I can't travel alone; I can remember answers when prompted.  Meeting customers after 2 pm is difficult.
  • Itching - constant, body-wide.  I've been to the dermatologist and have all the cremes and emollients that money can buy.  The best way is "mind-over-matter."  Much of the itch is controlled with my mental stability.
  • Making little or no urine - quite the contrary - I pee all the time, every 30-45 minutes.  This is how I've stayed off of dialysis so long, even with very little to no kidney function.  
  • Swelling, especially around the eyes and ankles - swelling in all the wrong places!
  • Muscle cramps - second-worst.  These can be so severe as to make me jump out of bed at night in excruciating pain.  I've found that the workouts help, as do PCS-style Rockport shoes.  Air Nikes also help minimize the inevitable cramps.  
  • Tingling in hands or feet - nope.
  • Changes in skin color - age or kidney disease?  lol
  • Increased skin pigmentation - I don't even know what this one is!
  • Irritability - really?  You have to ask?  lol
So, now you know.  And I feel much better now that I've vented.  Just you wait 'til I get a new kidney . . . I'll be a new man!  Fiddle-dee-dee . . . tomorrow IS another day!

Most everyone is born with two, but you only need one.  I am seeking a live donor.  If you would consider donating one kidney, please call Methodist Hospital at 713-441-5458 and tell them that you're interested in donating a kidney to Sam Ferreri.  They can advise you of the risks and benefits to you.  You can read more at my old blog,, but please do NOT call St. Luke's Hospital (ewww).  I'm switched to Methodist.  Thanks, and God Bless you.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Homeowner Tax Tips

iStock_000006029471Medium-250.jpgEven if you’re having a professional help you with your income tax return, you need to provide them with information on the money you spent that might be deductible.  Look at the following list to see if any of these things need a little more investigation to determine if they apply to your situation.

  • If you refinanced your home for the second or subsequent time in 2014, there may be points that can be taken as an interest charge.
  • Compare mortgage interest, property taxes and other eligible itemized deductions to your standard deduction to see which will give you a larger deduction.
  • If you’re paying mortgage insurance premiums with your payment, you may be eligible to deduct them.
  • If you purchased a home in 2014, there may be some deductions found on the HUD-1 form you received at closing.
  • If you purchased a home in 2014 and the seller paid points on your behalf in order to get a mortgage, you may be able to deduct them.
  • If you purchased and installed in 2014 qualified residential energy efficiency property or improvements, you may be eligible for tax credits.
  • If you have dedicated, exclusive space in your home for a home office, you may be eligible for a deduction that may include a pro-rata share of insurance, utilities and other things.

For more information, see IRS Publication 936, Home Mortgage Interest Deduction; 2014 Instructions for Schedule A.

If you need another copy of your closing statement for the home you purchased or sold in 2014, contact your real estate professional.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pearland Real Estate is now Houston Real Estate???

So last week, I had to be at the world-famous Methodist Hospital -- you know, the one where President George H. W. Bush goes periodically -- for a 7:30 kidney appointment.  Since I live just down Highway 288 in Pearland, I projected that leaving at 6:30am would give me ample time to find my way to a parking spot and arrive early.

In fact, the instructions from Methodist Hospital advised me to "arrive 30 minutes early or risk having to be rescheduled."  ("Alrighty," I thought, as it had taken a month to get this appointment and my kidneys won't last forever!)  So, I left "early," remembering that the drive from Pearland to Houston up 288 only takes 15 minutes.

To make a long story short -- contrary to my usual making a short story long -- I arrived at my destination at 7:45.

Wow!  When did Pearland become Houston?

Now I'm not complaining, mind you, because property values across our fine area have increased steadily for the last few years!  Demand out here is strong because it is relatively close to town.  So, I learned some things.

My transplant coordinator remembered me from 30 years ago, and after reminding me of our past relationship, I woke up and realized that he and his wife are fellow Pearlanders!  "So, Russ, how do you deal with the traffic?" I queried, expecting a grunt and a sigh.

But no!  Russ had a plan!  He leaves at 5am, goes to the medical center gym, works out for an hour, then goes to the hospital.  Duh.  Of course!  There is a way!  

Why don't more people follow this plan?  It may be simple rethinking.  I am sitting here writing this blog at 5:30am . . . I went to bed at 9pm last night, got up at 3:30, went to the gym at 4.  Then I came home, had some tea, and began writing.  If I worked in the medical center, it would have been easy!

So, a plan would help make the commute easier.  Yet I turn on the TV -- the morning news -- and watch the traffic jams daily.  And yet, flex-time has been around as long as I can remember.  So, why don't more people have a good plan?

Yes, my blog went into a different direction -- maybe because I listened to the founder of RE/MAX this morning on my iPhone as I worked out, who explained that a step-by-step plan toward a big goal is required for success and a good attitude.  And I saw that living in Pearland -- with its amazing schools and quiet lifestyle -- could be reality even for commuters.  I mean, at night, should you wish to go to the theatre, a ball game, a club, or whatever -- the 15 minute drive returns.  (Try doing that from Katy or Cypress.)

Pearland has simply become the southern border of Houston.  And it's a good thing.

To find your Pearland home, call at 832-200-5656.  Sam Ferreri is a 40-year veteran of the Houston real estate market, and leads one of the most successful teams in the area, year-after-year.  RE/MAX Top Realty.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Oil . . . Oil . . . Oil . . . All my life, all this talk of Oil and its effect on Houston and Pearland Real Estate

And so I have customers asking me, "is the drop in oil prices going to have an effect on our house values?"

"Are we moving into another real estate recession?"

Hmmm . . . let me get my crystal ball . . . nope, doesn't look like it!

Let's examine the indicators:

Sure, the oil companies are planning layoffs whilst at the same time, Exxon has built a huge campus-facility up near The Woodlands.

Builders are continuing to build, buyers are continuing to buy!

Land sources for new construction are drying up . . . unless you go "wayyyy" out.  And the developers do keep moving out, making the Greater Houston Market the most expansive territory ever.  The other day, I drove out to a new community in Cypress called "Bridgeland."  It was nearly an hour from my office, and I'm on the beltway!  Where else in the world can you drive for an hour and a half and still be in the same place?

In the entire Houston MLS (a/k/a, there is a 2.7 months supply of single family homes! That is the lowest in recent memory, making Houston a seller's market.

Frankly, Houston has added more jobs than it's lost, making the oil price drop appear as more of an "adjustment" or "market correction" than anything.  And I always think that politics are involved....hmmmm.....

Nonetheless, it's a great time to sell . . . and buy in this market.  It looks like we're in for some great real estate market periods ahead.

Want to get into the market?  Call at 832-200-5656 and put us to work for you!  RE/MAX Top Realty.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

1/2% Could Make a Big Difference

PMMS Mortgage Rates2.png
Over 50% of homebuyers don’t shop to find the best interest rate for their mortgage.  While a buyer would rarely purchase the first home they look at, they will accept the rate and terms offered by only one lender.

While the borrower and the property affect the rate and terms that a lender may offer, it is not to be said that all lenders will offer the same terms and rates to the same buyer.  Credit score, home location, home price and loan amount, down payment, loan term, interest rate type and loan type all affect the interest rate but different lenders can interpret this information differently.

Shopping around to compare rate and terms for a mortgage is a reasonable exercise considering that a half percent lesser interest rate could not only lower the payment but the cumulative interest that is paid while that loan is outstanding.

Some borrowers don’t shop the mortgage because they are concerned that having their credit checked multiple times could adversely affect their credit score.  The credit bureaus take this into consideration when several requests are made by the same category of lender in a short period of time.

Check to see the difference 0.5% could make in the mortgage you’re considering by using the calculator provided by Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Contact your real estate professional for a list of trusted mortgage professionals to consider.


Would YOU buy a house from an Uber Driver?

I keep reading these Inman News stories -- stories about the real estate industry, written by "credible" authors.  One of them was recently in an Uber cab and realized that the driver was a real estate agent. Wow!  Imagine, your Uber driver could show you a house you've been eyeing on the way to the airport.

Of course, you found this house on an app that interpreted your feelings and desires, and suggested it to you.  The Uber driver conveniently arranged for you to see it.  You quickly got a mortgage on another app (or perhaps the same one), and voila!  Home Sweet Home.

Sorry, this old school skeptic doesn't buy it.

I mean, it sounds like a good idea!  It sounds so easy!

But it's not.  There is a wild world of offer and negotiation, inspections, crazy sellers, crazy buyers, stressed-out crazy agents, title companies, weird lending practices, goof-ball builders, and other not-so-simple complexities in a home purchase.  How in the world would all these emotional areas be managed by an app?

The truth is, they won't.  These are pipe dreams.

I've listened to similar stories for 40 years, and yet, real estate buying and selling still needs a qualified transaction manager -- a licensed agent -- to handle the details.  Even (and especially) buying a brand new home requires a third party fiduciary (great word) for the buyer.

The consumer wants lower costs of buying, yet the costs of real estate brokerage go UP, not down. And broker profitability goes down with the cost of doing business.  

So, without radical changes in how buyers and sellers react with one another -- I mean, the core root of human behavior will have to change before Uber drivers become successful real estate agents.

I doubt I'll be buying or selling a home with my driver anytime soon......will you?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Technology Conference? Tablets? Does that include my Big Chief Tablet?

Actually, I love the changes that technology has brought to our world.  My MacBook Air, My iPhone, my iPad . . . yes, I replaced my Big Chief Tablet and Big Fat Pencil with an iPad.

But now I have to get appy.  And I have to master SEO . . . I did do that a few years ago, I even went around the country teaching it, but I need some brush-ups.

So where is it going?  To Zillow and Trulia?  To  To  To Redfin?

I just read an article on Inman that describes how the BOF ("brokerage of the future" for all you knuckleheads like me who aren't into acronyms) will be built around sophisticated agents who "bid" for the business from the brokerages, bringing only the elite producers together into 1,000 square feet of technology-laden space, suitable only for reporters.

Ok, wait a minute.  The internet will suggest which home you will love based on your input emotional needs?  And you'll buy it, based on Mac's suggestion?  In fact, this is in direct contrast to every existing brokerage model in the industry?  And this will be the BOF in 2 years???

Holy cow!  I think of myself as being somewhat "forward thinking" and a "sophisticated" Realtor.....but......can I get a grasp on that concept in 2 years?  OK, maybe, if I get a grasp that I'm in the "home-selling" business, a concept I never understood either.  That's not what I do.  Rather, I enhance people's lives and bring them family comfort by providing exceptional representation to them when buying or selling............can I become a 'bot?  Is that what BOFs (buyers of the future!) want?

Now I find myself in the training business.  I help buyers, sellers, and agents build their personal business and family life by providing counseling and consulting to provide solutions.

It's a good thing that I stay "learning-based," because it sounds like I'll need it.  Learn and grow in our creative, collaborative culture.  I got this.  I'm on it.  Let's do it!  Onward through the challenges! (May I please have my Big Chief back?)