Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Nostalgia, Baseball, and the Memorial Small Town Feeling

This has been an unbelievable season for the Memorial Mustangs. For me, it’s confirmed why life is good in Texas: you can live in a great neighborhood in the middle of the city and still have it feel like a small town. For our kids, it’s a valuable experience. It’s how life is supposed to be.

The game last week was in Pearland—far, but not too far for Mustang Fans to pack the stands. The best seats in the house, though, were those of the teenagers that pulled their F-150’s and Dodge Rams up to the outfield fence and stood on the tailgates cheering. It reminds me of the Little Rascals: Spanky and the Gang! The next night, my son informed that me they found an even better seat, with lawn chairs on top of the shed for a bird’s eye view. The weather was that perfect Houston summer night weather: warm but comfortable, a breezy 74 degrees. I sat in the bleachers as the crowd packed in close. Fans would always scoot over to make room for one more. The kids home from college came to say hi.

I don’t have a son on the team but my heart goes out to every mother who does. The nerves have got to get to you! A tip from my days as a club soccer mom: peanuts are a nervous mother’s best friend. Shelling those peanuts during a game is the only thing that got me through!

There are a few things that feel constant to me throughout every game in the Memorial community. The smell of the burgers grilling. The elementary school boy who sat in front of me and bragged about being the bat boy, reciting the stats of every player like they were already in the majors. There’s the team manager Philip, who is somewhat a celebrity in Memorial. The other day, I ran into a friend whose daughter was home from college and was going to Carrabba’s for dinner just because Philip was working that night.

I grew up with baseball. I went to all the Colt 45 games with my dad, who is a huge baseball fan. If you gave him the choice between living in Paris and living in Cooperstown, there’s no question what he’d pick! After a glass of wine, I can still the sing the fight song of the Colt 45: Shoot ‘em down Houston Colts, fire away Houston Colts, there is a game today…

Three years after the Colts became the Astros, a new family moved in next door, and for my family it was a dream come true: they were the grandsons of the owner of the Astros, and they became my little brother’s best friends. We had so much fun on that block! I was old enough to baby sit, so I had to come along for years to the Astros games. This was back in the days of Larry Dierker, Johnny Edwards, Roger Metzger. I remember Cesar Cedeno when he was a rookie. My husband is still shocked at the extent of my baseball knowledge today!

So, to the MHS baseball team, thank you for showing us all that is right in this world and bringing that small town feeling into our hearts.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's Not All Bad News

All the bad news today seems aimed at making people more cautious in their spending.

But let’s cut through that for a second. It’s actually a really good time to buy a house in Houston.

This is an emerging trend nationwide. CNN Money posted an article today that begins, “For the first time in years, buying a home may beat renting.”

And Houston is on the up-and-up. We are a migratory city. We have people moving into this city  and a large percentage of them are coming here for careers. Texas encourages business, and that’s why we haven’t suffered nearly as much as other regions during the recession.

An increased number of white-collar workers are moving here. With the Internet making satellite offices redundant, many companies are moving managers and executives out of the outposts and into their main office.

This is happening in a big way in the oil business, which has kept the Memorial home market strong. These executives have children and they want the best schools for their kids; since many private schools have long waiting lists, SBISD comprises the schools du jour.
If you want to take advantage of this demand and sell your home, know that buyers these days are looking for updated homes. I would venture to say 50% of home buyers have been transferred to Houston for work, and they do not want to come into a new city and remodel. No way! They’ll pay top dollar to avoid this.  There is virtually no new construction in the city, so a home that is in move-in condition with great schools sells fast.

Homeowners worry that home prices will decrease even further. I disagree. First of all, Houston is a cheap place to live, even with $4 gas (but let’s hope that that stops sometime soon). These transferred executives will stay in Houston till they retire, and only some will go back to their previous city. People who move here will fall in love with the climate; once they learn to stay indoors during those months of 100-degree heat, they’ll enjoy never ever having to be snowed in!

But most importantly, as few new homes are being built, the demand will soon outpace the supply, bringing us closer to the years of price stability and safe investments that we all loved so well!