Friday, December 28, 2007

12/28/07 Houston Real Estate TODAY! Radio Show CNN 650 AM

Left to Right: Connie Parsons, Paul Petropolis, Steve Levine, and Lauris Tam

Houston Real Estate TODAY! is now on the air. You are welcome to watch or listen to the show at this link. Our guests were Lauris Tam, Charter Equity, Inc., Paul Petropolis, Vice President of Sales, Gateway Homes and Connie Parsons, President, Lasting Impressions Home Management.

Listen here: <radio active>

See the show on Google Video below:


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12/21/07 Houston Real Estate TODAY! on CNN 650 AM

The Radio Crew (left to right): Ken and Michelle Pitlik (Exit Realty), Rene Salvatierra (urbanFINANCIAL), Steve Levine, Cory DeBerardino, and Larry Corona (Exit Realty)

Houston Real Estate TODAY! is now on the air. You are welcome to watch or listen to the show at this link. Our guests were Ken Pitlik, Exit Realty Bay Area, Larry Corona, Exit Bay Area, and Rene Salvatierra, President of urbanFINANCIAL
Listen here: <radio active> You Tube Video coming soon!

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Courtney Johnson Rose, George E. Johnson Development

Working Hard to be Houston’s Hardest-Working Realtor
By Woodie Stephenson

Following in her father’s footsteps, Courtney Johnson Rose is ambitious, versatile, and talented. The 29-year-old agent, broker, and developer has only been practicing real estate full-time since 2002, but her face can already be seen on the cover of a recent special edition of Realtor Magazine, touted as one of the publication’s rising national stars in their “30 Under 30” feature.

Employing an array of experience and education alongside support from her family’s development firm, Courtney is able to specialize in several areas of real estate while cementing her reputation as Houston’s hardest-working young star. Whether she’s marketing a single residential property or helping to develop a new-home subdivision, Courtney brings an unmatched intensity that showcases her passion for people and real estate.

Daughter to a developer father, Courtney likes to joke that she “was born and raised in a real estate office.” Her father, George E. Johnson was a licensed brokers operating his own franchise before Courtney, the baby sister of three older brothers, was even born.

A Houstonian all her life, Courtney was raised in a loving Christian environment where she learned the virtues of faith and hard work growing up. A diligent and involved student, Courtney enjoyed sports at a young age, running track and field and serving as the co-captain of the Elkins High School basketball team.

After graduating high school, Courtney attended University of Texas at Austin where she obtained her Bachelors Degree in Business and Economics. Fresh out of college, she took a job working for Fortune-500-Company Accenture, a spin-off of Arthur Anderson. Although she was on the fast track in the corporate world, Courtney still saw it fit to acquire her own real estate license so she could utilize the family business to buy rental property and help friends with real estate decisions. Courtney began making real estate deals and found that she enjoyed helping her clients and negotiating her own success; however, she initially kept her day job. Over the course of the next two years, Courtney’s real estate career took off and she soon discovered that her part-time real estate income matched what she made working at the Fortune-500 company, leading her to consequently decide to pursue a full-time career with her father’s development firm.

“Real estate must really be in our genes,” Courtney says of her family, “My brothers and I all work together with my parents, and although they never pushed any of us to work for them, we all chose to be involved.”

Determined to continue her passion for education, Courtney received her Brokers License in 2002 and returned to college, this time accompanied by her mom, to earn a Masters degree in Community Development at Prairie View A&M University.

Along the path to success in life and real estate, Courtney has always looked to her father for love, mentorship, and support.

“My father has taught me the most important principles in life,” Courtney shares, “At a young age he embedded a strong work ethic in me and my brothers. He taught me that to whom much is given, much is expected. He raised me to be a good steward to the Lord and to tithe my money.”

Courtney’s father, George E. Johnson Jr., is extremely proud of his daughter’s achievements and business practices.

“Courtney is very bright, honest, determined and fears God,” Johnson says, “As a result, she is dedicated to her clients and their best interest. Courtney believes in communicating with her clients before, during and after a sale. She uses her knowledge and real estate experience to advise the client on what she believes are their best options. I am honored to be her friend, mentor, and dad.”

Courtney, who is on pace to have her most successful year to date, prides herself in a client base strictly built on referrals. The eager-to-please agent routinely hosts client appreciation dinners, as well as making time to place phone calls, meet former clients for coffee, and write newsletters to keep in touch.

“The fortune is in the follow-up,” says Courtney, who has implemented a formula that yields an average of 2 referrals per week.

Although Courtney’s formula for client referrals translates into wealth and success, the humble agent prides herself most in her ability to bring people together and surpass her client’s expectations.

“I like to consider myself one of the hardest working Realtors in Houston,” she says, “I fight to get the best possible deal for my clients, and I truly love winning their respect and referrals.”

When listing residential property, Courtney works diligently to promote her listing and instill a sense of confidence in her clients. Using the available resources within her strong family-business network, Courtney engages her mom Thomasine’s design expertise to help enrich her properties to appeal to the needs of potential buyers. Courtney also takes advantage of internet tools to design virtual tours of her properties and increase her exposure by listing on several websites such as,, and Loopnet.

On average, half of Courtney’s deals are residential transactions spanning all areas of Greater Houston, but she also deals heavily in the commercial and development markets. Development, Courtney’s favorite area of the business, excites her most because it ties into her background in master planning. Besides being the listing broker for several residential builders including Equity Building Group, the up-and-coming developer is following in her father’s footsteps as she currently negotiates the land acquisition for a proposed new-home community.

“To me it is just fascinating to be able to see a plot of land turn into a project,” she says, “I have always been captivated with land use, and integrating projects into communities.”

Although Courtney’s father, George, has served as her main advisor and mentor, Courtney has looked to her mother for encouragement and inspiration throughout her career. Her mom, Thomasine, served as her source of encouragement to further her education, even going as far as to attend graduate school alongside Courtney where the mother-and-daughter classmates both earned their Masters in Community Development.

Thomasine believes Courtney has a special knack for leadership.

“I have a very special relationship with Courtney, whom I refer to as ‘Baby Girl’,” Thomasine says, “She is not only my daughter, but someone I consider as one of my best friends in every sense of the word. Courtney exhibits strong leadership skills with the guidance, direction, and professional knowledge she provides to her clients to ensure the best possible service.”

Courtney also sites older brother George Johnson III as a source of inspiration and mentorship. The two siblings have been partnered on many deals where they learn from working alongside one another. “My brother George has been an excellent mentor to me in project management and development, which have been his areas of expertise,” Courtney says.

Those who are fortunate enough to have worked with Courtney understand the attention and detail she brings to each task at hand. Her professionalism and kindhearted demeanor often earn Courtney praise from partners and referrals from clients.

Client and friend Kaye Wright, who was Courtney’s very first client, applauds Courtney’s reliability and professionalism.

“My most recent home is a new construction and Courtney handled everything from beginning to end working with the builder, construction managers, and inspectors,” Kaye says, “She was 100% reliable, resourceful, and completely in control. She was extremely hard-working, caring, and always gave me her own honest opinions based on her experience.”

Dr. Nicole Coleman, one of Courtney’s most-recent clients, couldn’t believe how easy Courtney made her very first home purchase. Less than one month after settling into her new home, Dr. Coleman has already referred Courtney to a friend.

“I was reluctant going into my first home purchase,” Dr. Coleman shares, “but after meeting Courtney for coffee she found my new home for me in just two weeks and made me feel completely confidant. She brings a level of expertise to the table, and communicates in a way that’s never condescending. She is a very busy woman, but she always made the time to fill me in on the details and address my needs.”

Daryl Malloy, President of the Houston Real Estate Association, respects Courtney’s strong business and leadership abilities. Under Malloy’s leadership, Courtney has served as a board member, 2nd Vice President, and education chair for HREA.

“Courtney is a true multi-tasker,” Malloy says, “she is very focused and goal oriented. Courtney is a consensus builder; in that whatever capacity she holds, she first seeks to understand and then to contribute and be understood. I have served on numerous committees with Courtney and watched her operate with all female organizations and multi-ethnic groups. In both cases she rose to the top as a chair or co-chair. In leading, Courtney is very unselfish and has the big picture of the group she is leading in mind.”

William Traylor, Lead Investor of Equity Building Group LLC, believes Courtney is “not your average Realtor.” Courtney has worked alongside Traylor as a sales, marketing, and development partner of small multi-family income properties.

“Courtney is not your average Realtor; she brings a high level of business acumen and analytical ability to the business,” Traylor says, “She blends an innate understanding of real estate, along with a corporate consulting level understanding of finance, business development, community development and marketing. She has been instrumental in our strategy and analysis for new projects and development feasibility studies that have provided critical insight towards allocation of investment dollars.”

When Courtney is not building her future one transaction or acquisition at a time, she is a dedicated wife to her husband Teeba Rose, whom she met through a family member at a housewarming party in 2002. Courtney and Teeba, partners in life and business, enjoy sharing in one another’s work and success. Courtney assists her husband in his own enterprise, Pre-Paid Legal Services Inc., where the husband-and-wife team provide legal and identity theft protection for families. The two top-earners are proud recipients of the $100,000 ring award in Teeba’s business, which has flourished alongside Courtney’s real estate enterprise. Determined to aid his wife in her day-to-day affairs as well, Teeba serves as an invaluable asset to Courtney’s business.

Teeba praises his wife’s dedication to helping her clients as well as her real estate peers.

“I am the proud husband of Courtney Rose,” Teeba says, “She is a great real estate Broker for several reasons. She always has the client’s best interest at heart. She listens intently to what the client wants and needs before makings suggestions. Courtney is one of the most driven and knowledgeable real estate professionals in the market today. She dedicates her spare time to teaching real estate classes and has helped a countless number of people achieve their goals. I try to model my passion and drive after her.”

Although they work hard and play little, Teeba and Courtney consider working on Sundays non-negotiable, and they reserve the day for their devout commitment to God and family. Teeba and Courtney share many hobbies together including going to the movies, dining in romantic restaurants, and traveling. The self-described film-buffs enjoy taking in action and comedy films at the movie theatre. In their travels, Teeba and Courtney have visited Hawaii, The Bahamas, Cancun, Miami, and most recently Chicago, where Teeba surprised his ecstatic wife with tickets to The Oprah Winfrey Show. Although the happy, young couple have no children as of yet, Courtney eagerly anticipates expanding her family with Teeba in the years to come. “Children for us are a definite,” she says, “and are in the one-to-three year plan.”

Despite holding Bachelors and Masters Degrees, Courtney has continued to expand her education with various accreditations. She is a licensed GRI, and a CCIM candidate. Her hard work and diligence have paid off with several special honors beginning with a New Comer of the Year award from the National Association of Real Estate Broker’s Houston chapter, HREA (The Houston Real Estate Association). Courtney has gone on to be recognized by Realtor Magazine in their “30 Under 30” feature, as HREA’s Realtist of the Year, and one of Rolling Out Magazine’s 25 Most Influential Women in Houston. Of her awards, Courtney takes the greatest honor in her Realtist of the Year honor, a proud title bestowed on her by HREA, the local chapter of NAREB, the oldest and largest minority trade association in America. The title Realtist goes back to a time when minorities were forbidden the title of Realtor due to discrimination.

Lending herself to charity and volunteer work, Courtney is an active member and volunteer for her sorority Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. Courtney is also involved with the Community Development Association of Houston, The Houston Association of Realtors - Young Realtors Advisory Board, and she serves on the Prairie View A&M Graduate School Alumni Chapter Board. She is also the founder of the Agnes B. Johnson Scholarship, a memorial scholarship Courtney gives annually in memory of her maternal mother, Agnes Johnson, who unfortunately passed away in 1993.

The future looks promising for Courtney and her family’s real estate dynasty at George E. Johnson Development. Working alongside her father, mother, three brothers, and husband, Courtney is able to receive excellent support and mentorship as she prides herself in working under an umbrella of services in residential, commercial, and development.

For anyone new in the business who wishes to achieve her level of success, Courtney advises them to seek God’s guidance, earn the GRI accreditation, focus their initial marketing on their sphere of influence, and work hard to build a referral network, i.e., the fortune is in the follow-up. Lastly, education is the key.

“Education brings you confidence,” Courtney advises, “and confidence is what will separate you from the rest of the pack.”

Residential and Commercial Realtor, Broker, Developer, Director of the Board, Trainer—for Courtney Johnson Rose, the title of “hardest-working Realtor in Houston” doesn’t sound so far off.

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"Houston Real Estate TODAY!" Now Streaming LIVE On-line!

Tune each Friday at 1PM from the comfort of your computer. "Houston Real Estate TODAY!" now streams on-line. Bookmark the link and tell a friend. Listen this Friday, here: <radio active>

"Houston Real Estate TODAY!" brought to you in part by urbanFINANCIAL.

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

12/14/07 - Houston Real Estate TODAY! Radio Show

Left to right: Stephanie Robinson, Publisher of Builder Architect Magazine, Tom Lorenzo of urbanFINANCIAL, Steve Levine, our Host, David Flory, and Greg Carr of MHI

Houston Real Estate TODAY! is now on the air. You are welcome to watch or listen to the show at this link. Our guests were David Flory, Greg Carr, Sales Director for McGuyer Homebuilders, Inc./MHI , and Tom Lorenzo, Vice President of urbanFINANCIAL. Listen here: <Radio Active>

Stephanie Robinson of Builder Architect Magazine, also joined us in the studio.

Sign-up for our newsletter on this page and see our Flickr photo blog. Want to be a guest, sponsor or advertiser? Contact Andy Valadez today at 713.560.3348 or e-mail:

Special thanks to Connie Parsons of Lasting Impressions for recording the video for this edition.

Special thanks to our sponsors urbanFINANCIAL and Delaney's Roofing and Restoration

This show was produced by Steven Kay Media

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

12/07/07 - Houston Real Estate TODAY! Radio Show

Rene Salvatierra, Steve Levine and Tim Sojka

Houston Real Estate TODAY! is now on the air. You are welcome to watch or listen to the show at this link. Our guests were Tim Sojka and Rene Salvatierra, President of urbanFINANCIAL. Listen here: <Radio Active>

Sign-up for our newsletter on this page and see our Flickr photo blog. Want to be a guest, sponsor or advertiser? Contact Andy Valadez today at 713.560.3348 or e-mail:

Special thanks to Connie Parsons of Lasting Impressions for recording the video for this edition.

Special thanks to our sponsors urbanFINANCIAL and Delaney's Roofing and Restoration

This show was produced by Steven Kay Media

Show Introduction With Steve Levine

Part 2: More Details on the Sub-prime fix with Rene Salvatierra

Part 3: How can People Get a Loan/Introduction of Tim Sojka

Part 4: Tim Sojka on Marketing and Differntiation/Marketing and Sales

Part 5: Tim Sojka - Is this the best time to buy? Working with Invetors.

Part 6: Where is a good place to buy and interviewing a Realtor

Part 7: Buying Foreclosures/Staging a Home

Part 8: Show Wrap-up with Great Real Estate Tips

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Lauris and Lisa Tam—Charter Equity, Inc.

Community-Minded Realtors Leading Houston’s Prospering Asian-Americans
By Woodie Stephenson

Asian real estate icons Lauris and Lisa Tam of Charter Equity have developed an incomparable partnership in business and life. The husband and wife partners have established themselves as not only a real-estate powerhouse with the potential to sell entire subdivisions, but as a fixture of Houston’s prospering Asian-American community. Lauris, a veritable jack of all trades, with experience in architecture, design, photography, and customer service has exhibited strong leadership as President of the Asian-American Real Estate Association. Meanwhile, Lisa has served as Lauris’ backbone, working alongside him as the secretary of his association and as a successful Realtor at Charter Equity.

Lauris, a Houston resident of 42 years, first arrived in Texas in 1965 via Hong Kong eager to study at the University of Houston. Convinced by his father that a career in civil engineering was the path to take, Lauris began taking classes but hit a major road bump when he flunked a course in calculus mathematics; however, the young student was undeterred and decided to pursue a new path in his education.

“My father wanted my two brothers and I to study engineering,” Lauris shares, “He thought if we were all engineers we would be guaranteed good jobs. I always loved to draw and design—it just seemed so natural to me—so I studied architecture and graduated #2 in my class rankings.”

Lisa, also a native of Hong Kong, arrived in Houston at the age of 17 to live with her parents and grandparents and attend Lamar High School.

Meanwhile, Lauris worked hard studying and waiting tables in his uncle’s restaurant, Hunan II, formerly known as Hoi Sai Gai Restaurant, on Post Oak Blvd. It was through Lauris’ coworker at the restaurant, Lisa’s brother, that he met his future wife. The two Hong-Kong immigrants began a courtship that quickly led to love and marriage.

“She came here to marry me,” Lauris jokes, although there was no such arranged marriage. Lisa remembers recognizing qualities of greatness in a young Lauris that made her believe also that it was their destiny to meet.
“When I first met Lauris, he was very smart, bright, and gentle. He would travel back to Houston from Texas A& M University every Friday afternoon to wait for me in the Lamar HS parking lot, and he would take me out to see the city. I said to myself, ‘this is my future husband. He can take care of our family and he will be an excellent mentor to me in everything.’”

Eager to learn more and excel in his field of study, Lauris earned his Master of Urban Planning degree from Texas A & M University. He returned to Houston to find rampant development changing the face of the city as the Greenway Plaza, West Loop, Galleria, and Downtown areas were booming with growth. Lauris joined the Keiser Architecture Firm as an architect and quickly found himself at the helm of many projects.

In 1980 Lauris established his own architecture firm, Office Interiors, Inc. Lauris’ design company thrived working for high-profile clients such as Gerald Hines, Century Development, and the Horne Company. Office Interiors, Inc. was named in the Top-200 Interior Design Firms in the nation for five consecutive years. At the company’s pinnacle, Lauris employed over 25 architects and engineers with branch offices in Corpus Christi, Austin, and Houston. As the ‘90s arrived, Lauris found his business less pleasant as many of his best clients retired, leaving him to ponder the same option. In 1993 Lauris closed his office and retired from architecture.

As Lauris had been flourishing in the architecture business, Lisa had meanwhile been experiencing her own success in real estate. Serving the burgeoning Asian community in Houston, Lisa earned the respect of her peers and clients through her heartfelt service and rock-solid ethics. Lisa felt that her personality was a natural fit for real estate.

“I enjoy talking to people and being involved in the community,” Lisa says, “I offer my clients the best real estate services, knowledge, integrity, and patience they cannot find anywhere else. I take care of my clients’ business just like my own, and they know it.” When Lisa learned of Lauris’ early retirement, she gave her husband a challenge.

“Lisa told me that I was much too young to retire and sit on my butt,” Lauris says, “ She kicked me out and challenged me to work in real estate. She really didn’t think I could make it, but she underestimated one thing: I had been dealing with clients for such a long time that it had become a second nature for me to please the people I do business with. I love to deal with people and I have always worked extremely hard to sell myself.”

Lauris found himself back in school studying at the Champions School of Real Estate. After learning the business, Lauris, along with his business partner Pius Leung, founded his own real estate company, Charter Equity, Incorporated for Lisa and him to list and sell homes. While the husband and wife team worked to impress Asian clients with their experience and personality, Lauris began working as a consultant for Ideal Builders which was eventually bought out by KB Home. By sharing his expertise in architecture and design, Lauris was able to offer home builders a better understanding of what features and design the typical Asian customer sought in a home.

With Lauris’ new position as a consultant, he and Lisa were able to help sell and market homes that their customers were much more apt to be impressed by. It wasn’t long before Tom Walker of Gateway Homes had his eye on Lauris’ skill and expertise and sought to recruit the Asian real estate sage to work for his growing company.

Tom Walker and Lauris have found great success in their partnership; Lauris has become the #1 national salesmen for Gateway Homes while selling close to 95-percent of his homes to Asian-American clients. Lauris prides himself in anticipating his buyers’ needs.

“The Asian buyer is very particular,” Lauris shares, “They buy houses from us because we are recognized and trusted throughout the community and much of our business is generated through referrals. I always listen to what my clients want, and most importantly, when we make a promise to our clients, we always keep our promise and deliver.”

Lauris and Lisa take pride in the diversity of their skills in serving clients. The two Realtors are able to serve not only Chinese buyers but many Asian clients of varying nationalities.

“It’s very important to speak a client’s language if you want to earn their respect,” say Lauris and Lisa, “We have many Vietnamese clients and we have taken the time to thoroughly learn their language. Being able to speak the different dialects makes a world of difference.”

By combining his expertise in architecture and design with his sensitivity to his clients’ needs, Lauris has been able to help design better communities for Houston’s growing Asian presence.

“Our clients really look for good feng shui in a house,” Lauris says, “They are particular about the design and flow of a house’s space, the architecture design, and even the direction the house is facing. More than 85-percent of our buyers love a house that is facing either north or south because it is more energy efficient.”

“I love it when a client challenges me on design features,” Lauris says, “I spend a lot of time sketching and designing the homes that we sell. After talking with me, our clients are convinced they will get a better home because we know what they want and I’m an architect so I know how to deliver the home they will love.”

Lauris and Lisa’s friends and associates praise their leadership and generosity to the community. Friend and business partner Shawn Guo attributes the Tam’s success to their strong marriage and their “warm” personalities.

“Lauris has a great quality of leadership,” says Guo of RE/MAX United, “He is a man with a lot of energy, enthusiasm, and strong character. Most people judge a man’s success based on his earnings and business achievements, but what has made Lauris so successful is his ability to reach out to the community and be a strong leader.”

Guo believes that much of Lauris’ success can be attributed to the driving force in his life, Lisa.

“Behind every successful man you will find a strong and successful woman,” Guo shares, “Lisa is Lauris’ other successful half. Wherever you may find Lauris, Lisa is there supporting him. Together, they have raised a great family and made themselves a strong fixture of the community.”

“Lauris and Lisa are the most giving and generous people I have ever known,” says Trish Bui of First American Title, “Lauris is completely unselfish and he wants genuinely wants to do good for the Asian community. He is a very intelligent and strategic businessman who has always planned the best for our community. Lisa is the strong woman behind him; she has helped and guided him. Without Lisa, his projects would not be as successful. Lisa is a wonderful, kind, and intelligent woman.”

Pius Leung of Realm Business Solutions says, “Lauris and Lisa are extremely dedicated to their profession and to the Asian-American community. Once they commit themselves to a task, they are 110-percent dedicated to accomplishing their goal. They have great honesty and integrity and are highly respected in the community.”

“Lauris and Lisa’s ability to network so well has made them successful,” Kenneth Li of Century 21 Southwest says, “They have a strong bond with the professionals in their industry and everybody wants to work with Lauris and Lisa. As an architect, Lauris knows the details that make a great home and is able to design a satisfying product. He is able to deliver the homes that his clients will love because he knows how to listen to their wants and needs and deliver the results to the homebuilders he works with.”

“Lauris is really connected with the Asian community,” business partner Tom Walker of Gateway Homes says, “He takes the time to listen to their needs and as a result of this we are able to work closely together to provide the homes his clients are looking for. He listens and he genuinely tries to help people. Gateway Homes and Lauris Tam are a great fit because it’s very important that a good company be behind an amazing salesperson. Together we strive to honor our commitments and present our clients with the best possible product.”

Lauris’ efforts to please his clients have generated the eager architect and salesman a slew of top industry awards. In 2002, Lauris was the National Sales and Marketing Council’s Silver Award Winner, the Texas Association of Home Builders’ Star Award Winner, and the Greater Houston Builders Association’s First Salesperson of The Year for the second year consecutive. The following year, Lauris became the only candidate nominated by the Houston Board of Realtors for the prestigious HOPE Award.

Although their efforts have brought the Tams many awards and recognition, the couple takes the most pride in their solid marriage of 35 years and their wonderful family. Lauris and Lisa are the proud parents of 3 college graduates Lyndon, Lawrence, and Liana. Lauris and Lisa are also the proud grandparents of two grandsons and a granddaughter.

The Tams pride themselves in their rich community involvement. In addition to founding and holding the position of Chairman for the Hong Kong Association of Houston for over 15 years, Lauris has served as the President of the Asian American Real Estate Association (AAREA) from 2005 to present. Quite the jack of all trades, some of Lauris’ most interesting activities have included serving on the Houston Mayor’s Asian Advisory Board and working as a Field producer for an Emmy Award-winning special on Hong Kong for local broadcasting station KHOU-TV.

Lisa’s extracurricular activities include serving as Secretary on the Chinese-American Association attending important networking and charity activities. Lauris is proud of the great effort Lisa puts into their family and business achievements.

“Every successful man has a great wife behind him,” Lauris shares, “Lisa always listens to me and corrects me when I am wrong. She is there for me night and day to make sure I never make the same mistake twice. She has instincts like no other woman I have ever known; she takes care of my family, shares her wisdom with those around her, and she is very active in out community. I don’t have the time to mingle very often so she does most of the social networking and helps find our strategic business partners. She is my partner in business and life.”

When the Tams are not busy serving Houston’s Asian community, they enjoy combining their two most avid passions: family and traveling. Every year the extended family of 10 takes a vacation to an exotic international destination. Lauris’ favorite port of call is by far Hawaii, where the family plans to return for another trip next year. A passionate photographer, Lauris buys at least one new camera every year and loves to take colorful family portraits. Although they are mostly busy at work, the Tams admit they can be the life of the party.

“I am a party animal,” Lauris admits, “Every year we celebrate the Chinese New Year by throwing a banquet for over 800 people with the AAREA and Hong Kong Association. Everyone wants to come to our party because Lisa and I sing and dance and show people the most incredible time. We love to share our culture with guests; this past year we invited Hispanic, Vietnamese, and Korean Realtors.”

Lauris and Lisa advise their own staff and new agents to invest in their education first and to practice honesty and patience in their business dealings.

“You must be patient,” Lauris shares, “You cannot make money in a day. In order to succeed, you must have knowledge in real estate. Most importantly, you must be honest to both partners in a real estate transaction, your buyer and seller. If you are patient, educated, and work hard then you will achieve success.”

The Tams have prided themselves in raising their own children and grandchildren according to their values and ethics. Each of Lauris and Lisa’s three children has attended either the University of Texas or Texas A & M.

“Being foreign students, Lisa and I stress education,” Lauris says, “We want to make sure our children and grandchildren get college degrees. We have even set up a college fund so that my grandchildren have every opportunity available to them.”

Strong fixtures of the community, Lauris and Lisa pride themselves in their ability to meet their clients’ needs and surpass expectations. With his background in architecture and design, Lauris is able to listen attentively to the special requests of his majority of Asian buyers. The Tams feel they are here to stay and they couldn’t have picked a better place to run a business and raise a family.

“I’ve been in Houston 42 years,” Lauris says, “and my clients know I’m not going anywhere. When they buy a home from me or Lisa they trust our opinion because my family will always be here in the neighborhood and in the community.”

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Life and Your Contributions to It

For those of you subscribers who regularly follow this column (a mandatory requirement of being an “official” fan of the magazine) you know that my very favorite part of job description as Publisher is the opportunity to interview the cover story realtors. Each one must be nominated by one of the members of my Publisher’s Advisory Board (based on criteria that I give them) and receive a unanimous vote by all 23 members of the board…no small task!

One of those criteria is that the cover honoree must give back generously to the community and/or the industry. They generously give their time and resources to help others. Realtors® are a very important part of the community and know that it is very important to use their “blessings” to bless others. Because they do, their lives are more enriched.

Will your legacy be based on your accomplishments in your business or your contributions to your fellow man?

This month’s cover honoree, Lauris Tam of Charter Equity is a most amazing man.
He has accomplished a great deal in his life in whatever he has set his mind. He is an accomplished designer, a top selling real estate agent for Gateway Homes, the President and one of the founders of the Asian American Real Estate Association, a founding board member and President of the Asian Real Estate Association of America and is the founder and President of the Hong Kong Association. Somehow, he finds the time to volunteer for these and many other business organizations. It almost seems that he gets energized out of giving to others. I have witnessed that he is so much more than a Realtor® he is very influential leader in Houston’s Asian community. You will enjoy his story.

While we are on the subject of “Life and Your Contributions to It,” I would like to share a poem that Lauris could very well have written. The poem is by Kitty Victor.


The adventure of life is to learn.
The purpose of life is to grow.
The nature of life is to change.
The challenge of life is to care.
The opportunity of life is to serve.
The secret of life is to dare.
The spice of life is to befriend.
The beauty of life is to give.
The joy of life is to love.
Life begins when you do…enjoy the journey.

Seasons greetings & best wishes for the coming new year!

As always, good reading, good sales!
Success to you!

Steve Levine

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

The 11/30/07 Episode of Houston Real Estate TODAY! on the Air

If you are in real estate, you have probably seen or heard of our special guests for this edition of "Houston Real Estate TODAY!" with Steve Levine, Publisher of Real Estate Executive Magazine. The show was informative, humorous, and newsworthy given the "hot" Houston real estate market and the experience of our guests.

Our Panel of Experts:
Rob Cook, 2007 Chairman of Houston Association of Realtors (HAR)/Robert D. Cook Properties
Shad Bogany, 2002 HAR Chairman/ERA Shad Bogany Properties
Jeanne Conger, VP Sales, Marketing, and KB Home Center/KB Home

"Houston Real Estate TODAY!" is sponsored in part by urbanFINANCIAL and Delaney's Roofing and Restoration

Be sure an subscribe to our newsletter, view our photo blog, and ask us about becoming a guest, sponsor, or advertiser by e-mailing:
Hear the complete audio stream here: <Radio Active>

Show Intro with Steve Levine

An introduction of our panel and a discussion with Rob Cook

A continuation with Rob Cook

Rob Cook Explains the Dynamics of the New Home Buyer

An introduction to Shad Bogany of ERA Bogany Properties

Shad Bogany, 2002 Chairman of HAR/ERA Bogany Properties

Shad Bogany Continued

Jeanne Conger, VP of Sales and Marketing KB Home

Mrs. Conger Continued, KB Home

Jeanne Conger Explains the Martha Stewart Relationship

Closing Segment and Top Tips From Our Guests

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Tune In This Friday at 1PM on CNN 650 - Houston Real Estate TODAY!

This week's guests will include Rob Cook, the 2007 Chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors ( and Bob Cook Properties, Shad Bogany, ERA Bogany Properties and 2002 Chairman of HAR, Jeanne Conger, VP of Marketing for KB Home (, and Rene Salvatierra of urbanFINANCIAL ( See and hear our past shows below in the "Houston Real Estate TODAY!" directory.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

11/23/07 Houston Real Estate TODAY! Thanksgiving Edition CNN 650 AM at 1PM

Steve Levine and Rene Salvatierra of urbanFINANCIAL go into to the studio with Steven Kleiman of Oakington Realty, Rick Wayne of R. Wayne Builders, and Jeff Jansen of Garage Town Texas to talk everything "inner loop". "Houston Real Estate TODAY!" is Houston's most informative real estate radio talk show featuring great guests and hot news on real estate Houston, tune in every Friday at 1PM on CNN 650 AM or visit us on-line (all shows are archived for your viewing or listening). Also, sign up for the newsletter and keep informed of show developments. If you would like to be a guest, sponsor, or advertiser, please call 713.560.3348 or e-mail:

The "Houston Real Estate TODAY!" radio show is sponsored in part by urbanFINANCIAL and Delaney's Roofing and Restoration.

Listen to the audio stream here: <Radio Active>

Show intro with Steve Levine and Rene Salvatierra

Mortgage Banking Update: Is there money available? How do buyers guarantee their financing before selecting their home?

Steven Keiman of Oakington Realty offers advice on the inner loop and what buyers are looking for

More with Steven Kleiman of Oakington Realty

More insights into the inner loop buyer and an introduction to Rick Wayne of R. Wayne Builders (high-end builder, $1M plus)

Rick Wayne discusses his builder focus for the innner loop

Custom Building Amenities

Home Technology with Rick Wayne of R. Wayne Builders and intro to Garage Town Texas with Jeff Jansen

Jeff Jansen continues a discusion regarding the benefits of Garage Town Texas

Closing Moments of the show, each guest gives one or two tips to consider when sourcing a mortgage company, builder, realtor or service provider

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Become a Sponsor Guest on Houston Real Estate TODAY! Radio Show and Market Your Company

Go On the Air with “Houston Real Estate TODAY!” $750 (approximately 1 hour in the booth)
• Limited to two guests ($750 per guest sponsor) per show in studio at all times (5 in studio max)
• Current format includes radio host, a co-host, a top Realtor(r) and, two additional sponsor guests
• Not a guaranteed talk time, included in the discussion and a profile on client company (one segment or combined segment feature)
• Invitation to pre-show lunch at Skyline Deli – 12th floor of station, business networking opportunity or other location in the event of an offsite live broadcast within the city.

• Guests to be promoted in newsletter and weekly press release/announcements
• Guests to be promoted on blog and Google Public Calendar
• YouTube video and podcast to be uploaded to blog and on-line – from the actual show.
• Guests to review schedule to determine when they would like to appear (not guaranteed until confirmed by sales team).
• In the event of a scheduling conflict, client will be notified of change.
• Subject to availability.
• No refunds for spots reserved, client responsible for being at station at time of broadcasting. Reschduling possible, accept during the week of feature.

The radio show is currently advertised in "Homes and Land" (75,000 readers), Real Estate Executive (3,100 readers), "Nuestra Casa" (25,000 readers) and Steven Kay Media (radio and web).

A brief example with Becky Shannonhouse, Realtor Relations of The Woodlands Development Company

Please contact us at e-mail: to reserve you schedule or call 713.560.3348, Andy. Houston Real Estate TODAY! airs in the Houston market on CNN 650 AM, every Friday at 1PM.

Reserve Your Spot Today!

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Tune Into Our Next Show 11/23 at 1PM, Friday on CNN 650 AM

The next "Houston Real Estate TODAY!" radio show will air 11/23 Friday at 1PM on CNN 650 AM and archived herea at!

Hot topic: The Inner Loop

Our Guests:
Rene Salvatierra/urbanFINANCIAL
Steven Kleiman/Oakington Realty
Rick Wayne/R. Wayne Builders
Jeff Jansen/Garage Town Texas

Our recent guests: Ronnie Matthews, RE/MAX Legends, Kristin Thrasher, Champions School of Real Estate, Rochelle Barrow,, Vickie Milano, Keller Williams Reality, Becky Shannonhouse, Realtor Relations, The Woodlands Development Company, and Buddy Wilson, Duralast

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

11/16/07 Houston Real Estate TODAY! Radio Show Segment

Tune in each week at the blog or at CNN 650 AM in the Houston market as we talk about everything real estate Houston. Our show is sponsored in part by urbanFINANCIAL and Delaney's Roofing and Restoration. The show is expertly produced by Steven Kay Media and Marketing Dynamics. This week we have Vickie Milano (November cover story honoree) of Keller Williams The Woodlands, Becky Shannonhouse, Realtor Releations of The Woodlands Development Company, Buddy Wilson of Duralast and co-host Eddie Delaney of Delaney's Roofing and Restoration. E-mail us your questions about Houston real estate at and we may post the answer on the air. Sign up for our on-line newsletter and tell a friend about "Houston Real Estate TODAY!"

Listen to the audio stream here: <radio active>

Show Intro and Guest Introductions

A Discussion with Vickie Milano, Keller Williams The Woodlands

Vickie Explains How She Markets a Home and 1031 Exchanges

A Continuation with Vickie Milano, Top Agent

Introduction of Becky Shannonhouse, Realtor Relations of The Woodlands Development Company

A Continuation with Becky Shannonhouse, Realtor Relations of The Woodlands Development Company

An Introduction of Eddie Delaney of Delaney's Roofing and Restoration and Buddy Wilson of Duralast

Buddy Explaines How Duralast Helps Save Money on Utilities for Commercial Properties

Eddie Delaney Helps People to Determine How to Best Plan for Their Roofing Needs

The Final Segment With Helpful Real Estate Tips from Our Panel of Experts

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CBS Radio Studio with Houston Real Estate TODAY!

We were in the studio with our panel of guests on the new "Houston Real Estate TODAY!" radio show hosted by Steve Levine, which airs every Friday at 1PM on CNN 650 AM. Our co-host and sponsor Eddie Delaney of Delaney's Roofing and his guest Buddy Wilson of Duralast were available to talk about the commercial roofing issues. Our special guests included Vickie Milano of Keller Williams (The Woodlands) and Becky Shannonhouse, Director of Realtor Relations for The Woodlands Development Company. If you are interested in becoming a guest or a sponsor/advertisor on this truly unique radio show celebrating Houston real estate and the Realtor(r) profession then contact Andy Valadez at 713.560.3348 or e-mail:

Show underwritten in part by urbanFINANCIAL.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

PR Web Press Release On-line for "Houston Real Estate TODAY!" Radio

Houston Real Estate TODAY" radio show airs on CNN 650 AM in the Houston market and on-line. The Houston real estate market has a range of dynamics that are of interest to home buyers, investors, the Realtor(r) community, and service providers to the industry. The show was created to appeal to the local and national market, for those who are actively reviewing and studying the Houston market.

Houston, Texas (PRWEB) November 8, 2007 -- Many Houstonians are proud of their city and the thriving business environment that has led to the nickname, "The Make It Happen City". Steve Levine, Publisher of "Real Estate Executive" magazine (a publication owned by Sunshine Media) has been passionate about featuring top Houston Realtors® on the cover of his magazine. Past cover honorees have featured Ronnie and Cathy Matthews (the #1 Realtor in the city), David Flory (#3), Bruce and Diane Kink (of The Woodlands), Rob Cook (Chairman of the Houston Association of Realtors 2007), and more. His desire was to put these stories on-line for others to read (the magazine has purposely limited distribution), which lead to the creation of his blog feature and that blog has garnered the interest of radio personalities and real estate professionals and consumers locally and nationally.

"We had the desire to create an open platform to talk about our real estate market. Typically on the radio you have a real estate agent or one builder talking about themselves or the same thing that is discussed on every other show and we wanted to share great information with today's real estate consumers and industry professionals from Houston's top agents, builders, and service providers in the market" says Mr. Levine "we also know that people are moving to Houston and we wanted people to know more about what is happening in our city from the buyer to the seller."

urbanFINANCIAL Mortgage Banking and Brokerage is underwriting the show and Rene Salvatierra, President will co-host the show with Mr. Levine twice a month. "The show had appeal to us, because it gives us access to the discussion about Houston real estate" says Mr. Salvatierra. The show will be a platform for those who are studying and watching the dynamic Houston market. "All of our shows will be video recorded and placed on-line with hyperlinks to audio streams" says Mr. Salvatierra "We want to hear from anyone who has something valuable to share in the dialogue" says Mr. Salvatierra.

Mr. Levine is proud of his 23-member Publisher's Advisory Board, all influential professionals in real estate. "We have access to plenty of real estate experts and we think our show will be a truly unique in that it represents a true convergence of media to include web, print, radio, events, networking, and strategic media partnerships," says Mr. Levine. "The guests of the show will represent the 'Best of the Best' in real estate," Steve ads.

Steve Kay of Steven Kay Media ( will produce the show for "Houston Real Estate Today". For more information, please visit:

Company Information:

Steve Levine Real Estate Media, LLC

Steve Levine Real Estate Media, LLC was formally created April 2007 with the goal of creating real estate oriented programming via a convergence of media involving web, print, radio, TV, and other platforms (i.e., speaking engagements, strategic alliances, partnerships, joint ventures, etc.). Steve Levine is the publisher of Real Estate Executive magazine, a high-end glossy magazine that reaches the top 10 percent of Realtors® in the local market. Please visit:

urbanFINANCIAL Mortgage Banking and Brokerage

urbanFINANCIAL is a lead-edge mortgage company that has focused on its use of technology, industry expertise, and the media to position what it does for top realtors, investors, and commercial developers. urbanFINANCIAL has demonstrated its financial prowess in difficult times and is focused on creating a clarion call for those in the business of serving home buyers and investors building the city. urbanFINANCIAL has been featured in "The Houston Business Journal", nationally recognized with Freddie Mac as a service award winner for two consecutive years, featured on KHOU Channel 11 and 55 " Wild about Houston", and print publications H and Texas magazine, Builder/Architect, and Real Estate Executive. Please see:


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Friday, November 09, 2007

11/9/07 Houston Real Estate TODAY! is on the Air!

Steve Levine goes into the studio with Ronnie Matthews, RE/MAX Legends, Rochelle Barrow of, Kristin Thrasher of Champions School of Real Estate , and Rene Salvatierra of urbanFINANCIAL for the show debut. The Houston Real Estate TODAY! show airs every Friday at 1PM on CNN 650 AM in the Houston market. We will archive every edition here at the blog. Please enjoy. Listent to the audio stream here: <radio active>

Show Intro with Steve Levine

Kristin Thrasher of Champions School of Real Estate

Kristin Thrasher Continued and Ronnie Matthews Joins the Conversation

Ronnie Matthews Continues

Ronnie Matthews gives his view on the Houston Market

Wrap up with Ronnie and an intro brief with Rochelle Barrow of

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Delaney's Roofing Sponsors "Houston Real Estate TODAY!" Radio Show

Eddie Delaney of Delaney's Roofing joins the "Houston Real Estate TODAY!" radio talk show about everything real estate Houston. Mr. Delaney will contribute dialague about commercial and residential real estate issues. His company services high-end commercial and residenial roofing needs to the current state-of-the-technology standars. Many of his applications reduce heat absorption by 80%, which is powerful in our market. See the YouTube video welcome below. The "Houston Real Estate TODAY!" radio show airs, Friday at 1PM on CNN 650 AM in the Houston market.

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

“Houston Real Estate Today Radio Show” With One Week to Go Before the Show….

A week ago, my partner, Andy Valadez and I jumped on the chance to partner with local radio show host, Steven Kay of Steven Kay Media for him to produce my own weekly real estate radio talk show "Houston Real Estate TODAY!".

I have been on the other side of the microphone several times in the last 6 months (once on television) and was pretty comfortable answering questions. So, I figured, all I have to do now is be the one asking the questions. How hard could that be? I interview our cover stories for the magazine each month.

But as this week of mentoring with Steven, working with Andy on press releases and lining up our first guests, I have come to realize that this transition is not unlike being a frequent flyer and one day, you decide that if you can be a passenger, maybe you could pilot the plane…,what was I thinking???

As excited as I am about this opportunity, I am (in direct proportion) nervous about it as well. Remember, there are no rehearsals for a radio show, it is a "live" show and there is not time to “rehearse” as all time on the air is taken each day!

So, here I am one week before the show with some great coaching from Steven, but unsure if I am not the proverbial “old dog” learning some “new tricks?”

What I have learned, is that there is A LOT more to hosting a radio show that I ever anticipated.

But, everyone that I have talked to about the show, has told me “You are going to be great at hosting!” Are they setting their expectations too high for me or do they know something about me that I don’t?

In either case, we have a great line up (Ronnie Matthews/RE/MAX Legends, Rita Santamaria/Champions School of Real Estate and Rochelle Barrow of Royce who are joining Co-host and sponsor, Rene Salavatierra/Urban Financial and I on the show. They are all “Big Fans” of each other and probably do not even need me there to get them talking and have a great dialogue on real estate today.

Maybe that’s the ticket!

Stay tuned, gang!

Next Friday (November 9th) at 1pm on CNN 650 News Radio.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Houston Real Estate Today Public Google Calendar

You may have heard of the new radio show "Houston Real Estate Today" hosted by Steve Levine and co-hosted by Rene Salvatierra, President, urbanFINANCIAL. Now, we are able to post your event on our public calendar that will be promoted on the radio. There is a small maintenance fee associated with this service on an annual basis, giving you unlimited postings for your group and access to our radio promotion in each show. If you are interested in learning more, e-mail: or call 281.463.4560

Click the Google Button below to see events:

Tune in every Friday on CNN 650 AM, at 1PM - Houston market (streaming web coming soon)

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Friday, October 26, 2007

urbanFINANCIAL to Underwrite "Houston Real Estate Today" Radio Show

Steve Levine Real Estate Media formally announces its new radio show underwritten by urbanFINANCIAL Mortgage Banking and Brokerage. Steve Levine will host the weekly show and Rene Salvatierra, President of urbanFINANCIAL will co-host twice a month. The marketing group/team is actively integrating several forms of media to showcase and raise the dialogue about everything "Houston Real Estate". The new show will begin airing on 11/9, every Friday at 1PM on CNN 650 AM. It will feature segments on the luxury market, investment property, condominiums and high rises, top builders, service providers to the industry (i.e., title companies, appraisal companies, insurance, etc.), hot neighborhoods, vacation rentals, home theatre, landscaping, pools, remodeling, marketing a home for sale, calendar of events in Real Estate, etc. The show will be produced by Steven Kay Media. The Real Estate news program will be supported by weekly press releases, features on-line, print, streaming audio, YouTube video, blog directories, search engine marketing, and promotional programs to position the show as a "must listen to" show locally and nationally.

Steven Kay , Steven Kay Media (left), Rene Salvatierra, President of urbanFINANCIAL (middle), and Steve Levine (right)

"Houston Real Estate Today" Formal Announcement

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Vickie Milano of Keller Williams, The Woodlands

Photo by: J.Heiliger Photography

“Making Real Estate a Family Affair”

By Kate Sullivan-Conlan

Keller Williams Realtor Vickie Milano makes buying and selling homes a family affair. “It’s all about family -- my own family and the families I work with,” says Vickie. “I get to know my clients and their families closely, while helping them through the challenges of moving. By the time we have completed their transaction, I’ve adopted them for life!”

As Judy Hopkins, broker and co-owner of Keller Williams Realty - The Woodlands, says, “Vickie adores her husband and son, and she has been a devoted and supportive daughter. Her caring and nurturing carry over to her business, where she treats her clients like family. For Vickie, it’s not just the sale of a house.”

What Makes an Award-winning Realtor?
Knowledge of the Market

Vickie has combined her focus on family and a long family involvement in real estate with spot-on marketing expertise to become a top producer and award-winning Realtor.

Vickie has a special commitment to and superior knowledge of The Woodlands and surrounding areas in North Houston. The Woodlands is where Vickie and her family live, work, and play, and where her son goes to school, so she knows the vicinity inside and out.

Dan Yardley, of Village Builders, East Shore-The Woodlands, says, “Vickie pioneered the East Shore neighborhood and has become its number one Realtor, as well as being one of the top Realtors for all Village and Lennar homes throughout North Houston.” Dan tells the story of one family that Vickie worked with who was transferred to The Woodlands. They identified the perfect home and wrote the contract. However, before they could close on the home, their transfer was revoked. Vickie stepped in and bought the house herself. She felt it was a great investment and if her clients couldn’t purchase the home she would. Dan says, “In my experience -- and I have sold over five thousand homes -- no one else has ever given that level of service and commitment.”

Nicole Boyd, of David Weekly Homes, has had a similar experience in working with Vickie: “Vickie brings immense knowledge about The Woodlands and the current market.”

What Makes an Award-winning Realtor?
Service Above and Beyond

Vickie also has the highest level of professionalism in every other aspect of selling and buying homes. She works with her clients to anticipate and handle every factor that could impact the sale of their homes.

One of Vickie’s clients, Walt Gothard, who has himself spent over twenty years in marketing and sales management for Texaco and Shell, sold his house for a very good price, even though it was at the end of the selling season and a tight real estate market. Walt says, “The multifaceted marketing plan that Vickie brought us was thorough and impressive,” including “guidance in how to stage our home, information on changing market conditions, marketing aids, and most importantly, leads which were generated from within her network.”

Vickie goes even further and, with her energy and passion, makes the whole process fun. Walt adds: “Vickie works very, very hard, but she is also genuinely having fun. Every well planned detail and extra little touch shows she has a passion for real estate and a love for the families whose homes she is selling.” Vickie’s service, according to Walt, “is light years ahead of simply putting a sign in the front yard.”
How many Realtors do so much for the families they represent?

Geoffrey High, also with Village Builders, sold his Woodlands home and downsized within The Woodlands. “Vickie,” he says, “really listened to what we wanted and showed us five or six homes that were right on target. We picked the perfect home for us, bought it, and moved in!” Vickie took care of every loose end, prepared every detail perfectly in advance, and came to the closing. Both closings were on the same day and took about thirty minutes.

But that wasn’t all. Vickie, who takes great pleasure in finding creative ways to help her clients, knew that Geoffrey and his wife were tired after a long day of moving, and that they wanted to stay home, kick back, and unpack at a leisurely pace. So Vickie bought them a whole car full of groceries and filled their refrigerator. “She didn’t know what kind of beer I’d like,” remembers Geoffrey, “so she bought me three kinds to make sure she had gotten the one I wanted!” Vickie stayed late that evening, sitting around the kitchen table with boxes everywhere, enjoying barbeque ribs and telling stories with the family.

Vickie’s first real estate transaction set the tone for her approach to serving families. Rod and Janelle Willroth, a couple with Continental Airlines, were relocating to Houston from Guam. They contacted Vickie with a very narrow window to find a home, so together they previewed homes very late into the evening. Rod and Janelle had an early morning flight to Guam the next day, but they were determined to write an offer before they left. Vickie invited them to spend the night in her guest room while she prepared an offer. The next morning at 5 a.m., they signed the contract in their bathrobes while they drank coffee and munched on breakfast. The couple flew back to Guam, confident in their decision. To this day Rod and Janelle still own the home they signed for in their bathrobes and are very dear friends of the Milano family.

Gayle Brand, Vice-president and Houston Division Manager of Chicago Title, has been a friend and business associate of Vickie’s for thirteen years. “Vickie is willing to do whatever it takes to help a deal come together and facilitate her clients’ dream of owning a home,” says Gayle. “If there is a way to get the deal done, she will find it and make sure everyone leaves the closing satisfied and happy.”

What would Vickie tell new agents about what it takes to be a successful Realtor? Vickie would tell them to buy the national best seller The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, by Gary Keller with Dave Jenks and Jay Papasan, for a step-by-step handbook on how to become a successful agent. She would also encourage new agents to get as much education and training in real estate as they can, even before they get started, including finding an experienced mentor. Vickie advises: “New agents need to read about the systems and tools other successful agents implement in their businesses, know and use the technology available, develop a database of their own, manage it efficiently, keep organized, and run their business as a business.”

What Makes an Award-winning Realtor?
A Diversified Business Plan

Vickie does not just help families buy and sell their homes. Her passion extends to helping people secure their financial future by investing in real estate, as she does. Her investors are Woodlands families, friends, out-of-state referrals, and others who have seen her strategy and want to learn how to invest as well. Vickie gives them the tools and knowledge to become successful investors, teaching them to choose properties that are in demand and that are good investments in the resale and rental market, while helping them every step of the way. Vickie and Matt have invested in a number of properties; she has helped her father select several great investments, and nearly all of her investors own between two and ten income-producing rental homes.

"I love to help people build their financial future and diversify their portfolios by investing in real estate along with their 401K’s, stocks, and bonds.”

What Makes an Award-winning Realtor?
The Love and Support of One’s Family and Team

Vickie first learned about the world of real estate, with its requirement for determination and follow-through, from her parents. When she was little, her mother and father, who was a journeyman electrician in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, vacationed in Hawaii and came home determined to move to the Hawaiian Islands. Her mother and father implemented a plan to buy old houses, refurbish them, and resell the homes for a profit. They did all the remodeling work themselves, and on the weekends Vickie begged to help, doing odd jobs. Six years later, her parents met their financial goals, sold everything, packed six bags and a frying pan, and moved to Oahu. “I was a real beach bunny,” says Vickie. “I could hop on a bus and spend my Saturdays with my friends, swimming and sunning at all the beautiful Hawaiian beaches.”

Vickie was finishing the eleventh grade when her grandmother passed away. She and her family moved back to Pennsylvania into her grandmother’s house - the home that her mother had been raised in. It was a gorgeous old home on the Delaware River that her parents lovingly restored. Her parents turned two of the bedrooms into an efficiency apartment for Vickie so she could have a taste of independence – in the safety of her own home - while she attended Bucks County Community College.

From college, Vickie joined Continental Airlines as a Flight Attendant. Soon, Continental became another family in her life. She loved every minute of it -- flying into New York, dining at the Plaza, jetting around the world, then returning to Houston. Vickie is not an active Flight Attendant at this time, but retains her employment and relationship with Continental. She continues her education and training to maintain her credentials and plans to return to flying when Matty, her son, is older. “I love being a part of the Continental family,” says Vickie.

Her work with Continental paved the way for her career as a Realtor. “Being a flight attendant taught me customer service,” says Vickie. “Every flight was different. Every family had its own needs, and we were trained to meet and exceed their expectations.” Vickie’s husband Matt is a pilot with Continental, and from him she learned to work from a checklist, as pilots do. “Matt and Continental taught me to systematize my processes, an approach that has made my real estate business efficient and effective.”

Because of Continental Vickie moved to Houston in 1985 and immediately decided she wanted to buy a house in The Woodlands. Her parents were concerned that their daughter, a young, single woman, was biting off too much. So Vickie promised them that she would earn her real estate license, and when it was time for her to move again, she would sell the house herself.

Ann Selman is the Realtor who assisted Vickie in the purchase of her first home and became part of Vickie’s extended family. After Ann showed the house to Vickie and her then-fiancĂ©, Matt, Ann went home and told her husband, “I just showed a house to Ken and Barbie – they were so cute!”

Seven years later Ann became Vickie’s real estate mentor after Vickie had completed training at Champions School of Real Estate. Vickie and Ann worked together as a team, joining Wilona Dyson, the original founding Broker of Keller Williams Realty – The Woodlands. Ann is proud of Vickie’s success. “Vickie has good people skills. She’s almost too good to be true. But Vickie IS that sweet to everyone, to her customers and everyone she meets along the way.” Vickie feels a strong bond with Ann and Wilona. “They changed my life by encouraging me in real estate; I love them and hope that I can do the same for others.” Vickie adds, “Ann gave me great advice. She said, ‘Don’t let real estate take away your precious family time because the kids just grow up too fast.’”

For a couple of years after Vickie and Matt married, she continued to fly while building her real estate business. Their son, Matty, was born shortly thereafter, and Vickie grounded herself from part-time flying so she could focus on real estate yet also be at home, close to her family. “Real estate is now one of my many passions. I love being a mom, a wife, a daughter, and a Realtor in my community. What could be better?” says Vickie. “Yesterday Matty fell off the monkey bars at school, and I was able to be there for him!” While she has her ABR, GRI, and Luxury Home Marketing real estate credentials, Vickie says she is proudest of her “MRS and MOM” titles.

“Someone once said,” muses Vickie, “behind all successful real estate agents is a loving and supportive family. Matt and Matty understand that other families count on my service and guidance to help them during their move.” Vickie adds, “My ‘boys’ are always there to help Mom. My husband is so mechanical and brilliant, he can fix anything, and Matty loves to jump in and help the same way I used to help my parents.” Vickie gives an example: “Recently, a tree branch fell through the roof of an investor’s home. I coordinated repairs and reported the damage while Matt and Matty rushed over with the necessary tools to make sure the damage was minimized. It’s always a pleasure when my family can help others.”

Vickie’s working family is her team at Keller Williams Realty. Kathy Woods is her Client Care Manager Extraordinaire. She tirelessly coordinates the follow-ups, keeps the transactions on track, orders any needed repairs, updates listings and photos, and provides the warm fuzzies – all with a smile. She even helps with Matty’s homework if needed! Tanya Briney handles the staging of their properties, making sure everything looks great and is ready for showings. She is also phenomenal with brainstorming marketing plans and coming up with creative concepts. Behind the scenes, keeping all of the systems and processes well organized and productive, is Harold Smith, Vickie’s “Technology Genius.” Whenever Vickie has an idea, she presents it to Harold, who then becomes responsible for making sure it gets implemented. He manages the technical aspects behind her business such as Vickie’s website and marketing programs. He lovingly designed the wrap for her bright red VW convertible bug, nicknamed the “Vickswagon,” that Vickie zips around The Woodlands in on pretty sunny days.

Vickie would be lost without the love and support from her extended family; it is the most important key to Vickie’s success. She wraps it up: “I couldn’t do it; I couldn’t even get up in the morning without the support of my family and friends. We are all working for the same common goal - taking care of our clients and one another.”

Vickie is on top of the market and in touch with her clients’ needs. She expertly markets her properties and diversifies her business, while thriving on the love and support of her families. Vickie keeps it fun and keeps her sights trained firmly on her priorities – her family and her faith. “I’m all about working hard and staying focused. At the end of the day, when I put my head on my pillow, I know I did the best I could for all my families and clients.”

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