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: info@HoustonRealEstateToday.com 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-fiancé, 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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What I Am Most Thankful For…

It is hard to believe that we have just two more months left in this year. What a wonderful year this has been for REAL ESTATE EXECUTIVE Magazine. I (personally) have a lot to be thankful for. Since November is the traditional month to give thanks, let me take this opportunity share what I am most thankful for:

1. My Publishers Advisory Board-What an incredible and wonderful group of individuals! I knew when I started the magazine that I didn’t have all of the answers, but I knew a lot of people who did and (even more important) could anticipate my questions. We have recently added Mr. Chris Nooney of CTX Mortgage, a long time client, advisor and friend and Ms. Vicki Fullerton of RE/MAX Spring & The Woodlands, who is also our 2008 H.A.R Chair-elect.

2. My Wonderful Wife/Associate Publisher, Barbara- Barbara is a true “Jack of All Trades”. She stages our covers photos, writes cover stories, handles all of the themes and decorations of our tradeshow booths and is there at all of our major events. She is an amazing woman and has contributed so much to the magazine. I (literally) could not do this magazine without her.

3. My Sales & Marketing Staff-For 4 years I was the sales & marketing staff! Then I met young David Bejar, our 19 year old server at Perry’s Steakhouse in 2006 and Barbara and I both saw the potential of this amazing young man. He amazes me with his sales talents. This year we also added Rick & Karen Vowell and Carlen Santa Cruz to the team. Andy Valadez of Marketing Dynamics is my partner in Steve Levine Real Estate Media and handles our blog and other media opportunities.

4. My Support Staff- Terrance Johnson has been our graphic designer since our premier issue. We have had allot of writers come and go, but Woodie Stephenson, Kate Sullivan Conlan & Elizabeth McQuern are the best we have ever had. The same goes for photographers, but Joe Heiliger is great photographer and so easy to get along with. The clients love him and his work.

5. My Relationship with Our Cover Honorees, Clients & Subscribers- I love being Publisher of this magazine and my favorite aspect of my position is the opportunity I have to go “one-on-one” with a superstar Realtor® every month and tell their story. But, what I cherish the most, is the relationship that it has given me with each and every one of these amazing people and you our readers!

This month’s cover honoree, Ms. Vickie Milano of Keller Williams Realty-The Woodlands is no exception! Vickie is an incredible agent and has been an absolute pleasure to work with. She went out of her way to help myself and my staff, do whatever it took to put this issue together. Our cover honorees are our clients, but she treated us like it was the other way around! What a “sweetheart!”

Speaking of clients, I am very thankful for the great companies who have become the “anchor tenants” in the magazines. Companies like Champions School of Real Estate, Royce Builders, Stewart Title, AccuShow, Urban Financial, Allied Home Warranty, Wholesale Mortgage, Momentum BMW, American Home Shield, Sona Medspa, EXIT Realty, LandAmerica Commonwealth Title, CTX Mortgage, Texas Floors, Member Home Loans and Gold Quest Group are all long term advertisers with us and allow us to bring you this fabulous magazine every month. Please support them!

I am also very thankful for the many wonderful companies that I have met and been able to profile in our magazine. This month, we shine the spotlight on Dakota Blue Homes as our “Builder of the Month.” Todd Barrow is the Director of Sales & Marketing at Dakota Blue and is the husband of one of our advisory board members, Rochelle Barrow.

Todd, thank you for introducing us to Dakota Blue Homes and Rochelle, thank you for introducing us to Todd!

Lastly I am thankful to GOD for the many, many blessings that he has given me in my life and my business. My continued health, the support of my wife, sons, step-son and step-daughter allow me to work this business with a passion.

Remember your own blessings as we start this holiday season and remember just who made your blessings possible.

It is time to let you get started with this month’s (N.A.R. Expo) issue!

As always, good reading and good sales!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday!

Steve Levine

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Bob Hale and Steve Levine Award Rob Cook His Cover Poster at HAR Luncheon

Bob Hale, President and CEO of HAR, Rob Cook, 2007 Chair, and Steve Levine

Steve Levine attends HAR Board luncheon and has the honor of presenting Rob Cook a poster sized, autographed copy of his October cover story feature. Congratulations Rob Cook from the team at Real Estate Executive magazine (read his cover story below).

Steve Levine addresses HAR Board before awarding the poster cover to Rob Cook

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Friday, October 12, 2007

HAR Expo 2007 You Tube Interviews

HAR Expo 2007 held at Reliant Stadium Exhibition Hall was a success. We had a chance to catch up with a few "movers and shakers" in Houston Real Estate. Hope you had a great time there.

Steve Levine interviews Bob Hale, President/CEO of HAR and Michael Levitin, 2008 Chairman

Champions School of Real Estate with Steve Levine

Century 21 Solution with Dory Gordon

North American Title ladies

Exit Realty feature with Steve Levine

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Rob Cook Interview on the Houston Business Hour

Rob Cook was interviewed Friday, October 5, 2005 on CNN 650, the Houston Business Hour. Mr. Cook is the most recent cover story honoree for October.

Part I: Houston Business Hour interview with Rob Cook, HAR Chairman and Steve Levine

Part II: Rob Cook talks about real estate market on a local and national scale and the affects of the media

Part III: Rob Cook talks about the affects of sub-prime and advances in technology for the future and chairman process at HAR

Part IV: The future of real estate marketing - web 2.0 technology like FaceBook, CraigsList, and more

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

"REAL ESTATE EXECUTIVE MAGAZINE Finds New Home in "Historic" Avondale Area of Houston"

The staff of Real Estate Executive recently moved into new offices at 603 Avondale; home of The Real Estate Café. The home was built in 1913 by Judge William Gaston Love. Judge Love had been the first Mayor of the Houston Heights and later became the District Attorney for Harris and Galveston County. Charles Rucker, the oilman who brought in the first gushers in the Goose Creek oilfield also lived there and from 1922 to 1928 it was the home of J. Robert Neal. Mr. Neal was the Vice President and son to the founder of the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company, at one time called “the world’s mightiest coffee firm” which later became Maxwell House Coffee.

In the last few years we have seen many homes of historical value, such as 603 Avondale, being torn down in the name of progress. It is truly magnificent to see homes of such grace and beauty being persevered and to play a part of the restoration. The Real Estate industry continues to promote the idea of making money by tearing down and rebuilding or renovating existing properties. However, restoring properties to their original glory can be even more rewarding. The house was purchase and restored by The Real Estate Café in March of 2007. The Real Estate Café is currently restoring other properties in the Avondale District. For more information, you can contact Ed Lasage at 832-213-6407 or Gisele Waters at 832-229-4062 or visit their website at www.TRECafe.com

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