Category Archives: Articles

Furnishings & Design Ideas for the Home – Michele Marano & Associates

Naturally, perfecting the elegance of a homes interior takes time and planning.  Michele Marano has combined the art of bringing home design ideas and styles to the real estate client.  Michele Marano & Associates – follow us here on Instagram, offers furnishings – vintage chic, french farm and country cottage styles available for purchase.  You can visit her at The Antique Gallery of Houston located in Spring, Texas.

Staging your home – with your furnishings is a no cost service when you list your home for sale with Michele Marano through Realty Associates.

Fees for Stye – Design Ideas

Initial 1 hour consult fee: $50

Hourly Fee: $60

Staging for Homes (clients furnishings)
Free with Exclusive Right to Sell Listing Agreement

New Listing at 1901 Post Oak Blvd., Unit 2409

The Lofts on Post Oak Boulevard

by Michele Marano June 22, 2017

Most people who know Houston are familiar with Post Oak Blvd.  As long as one can remember, Post Oak has always been the heart of the Galleria and while it has changed over the years, it is still continuously transforming today.  Over just the past couple of years, Astoria (high-rise) and BHP Billiton added new heights to the area – heights as in towers.  The posh Boulevard has a bit of everything for everyone – lots of restaurants, shops, Energy Companies, and a new bus lane coming soon.  That’s right.  Being the busiest area, aside from downtown, there is no method of transportation to and from other areas of Houston.  In an attempt to resolve this, a bus transit lane is being designed for Post Oak Blvd, specifically for its’ commuters.


So, while Post Oak continues to evolve and grow, why not own a condo on the Boulevard while prices are still affordable?  It’s a question that should be asked if you travel to and from Houston or work in the area. For $250,000, in the heart of the Galleria, you can own 869 sq. feet, overlooking one of 6 pools with amenities that include coffee, movie, computer, conference and club rooms, a beautiful fitness facility and a lavish entertainment/kitchen area for parties.  In addition, the condo unit has a low monthly maintenance fee of $382.  This is rare with mid-rise and high-rise condominiums, especially those within the  area.

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If you compare a similar size residence in the first, second and third largest cities, (New York, LA and Chicago), you will not find a condominium (also called co-ops) anywhere close to this price.   Located in one of the most desired areas of Houston, the building is situated perfectly between shops, restaurants, hotels and a busy work environment.  Across the street is Apache Corp, and SUEZ and a short distance away is Marathon Oil Corp. and Schlumberger, which makes this condo an ideal home for someone who works for one of the many Energy Corporations located in the area.  In addition, Uptown Park is 2 blocks away, and the beautiful upscale Whole Foods Market is just one block north of the Lofts.   If you’re an outdoorsy type, you will enjoy the monthly gathering of food trucks just across the street and the holiday festivities held at Uptown Park in December.

Whatever the time of year – spring, summer, fall or winter, there is always something for you to do while living on Post Oak Blvd..  And if you want to get away from the Galleria, you will soon be able to hop a ride on the bus transit system and head out to another part of Houston.

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The loft condo has bamboo flooring in the living area, slate in the kitchen and bath and new carpet in the bedroom.  The condo has been freshly painted pale chic gray, with gray baseboard and trim accent, and carpet is a beautiful plush dark grey (below).

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Condo overlooks one of 6 pools on the grounds.  Your living room has access to a French door, which opens to outside pool view.

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Kitchen opens to living area with a bar counter and small dining area.  All appliances, including refrigerator and washer and dryer will remain with the unit.  The washer and dryer is located inside the bathroom – a closet area.

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Below is the clubhouse kitchen and entertainment area adjacent to the lobby.  Its a great place to relax with friends and enjoy the activities held at the Lofts.  For more info on the condo, please contact or 713-899-8420.  MLS # is 59998614 on

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Houston Real Estate 2017: Get ready for a Bump led by our new President Elect Trump

by Michele Marano

When you live in an oil-producing state, chances are your memory of oil prices and dates are very keen. A few years ago was memorable in the Energy Capital of the World and if you are like me, a Real Estate Agent – ex-Energy Commodity Broker, you will correlate the energy industry to Houston’s real estate market.

In the early part of summer 2014, we saw oil prices start a decline that lasted over 2 years and affected all aspects of our economics, including job layoffs and housing price declines. Over the past year, crude oil has tested the $50 mark a number of times, but until now – with a new President Elect Trump- there weren’t many positive factors to reinvigorate Houston’s energy sector or housing market. I am feeling confident things will change starting in 2017 and during Trump’s tenure as President – hopefully more than 4 years. Here are my indications that point to higher crude prices and a housing bump in the near 18-24 months.

  1. President Elect Trump: That’s right. You might want to thank our country who voted for him – even if you did not. The direction of our country will drastically change, as will the way our government is run. The Trump administration will unravel the past – years of policies that were not particularly in favor of our country and years of global focus – unwarranted treatment to nations which appeared to delegitimize the priority of our own.
  1. The economy will turn faster than we’ve ever seen. With the house of Representatives and the Senate both controlled by the Republican party and with a Republican President, will most likely be easier for laws to pass, even though Democrats will throw tempers – and tantrums. Trump’s plan to cut taxes, lift regulations, renegotiate trade deals, repeal and replace Obama care and trim the fat of government spending will have an immediate impact on the future of our economy. Our new President’s’ “get the job done” work ethic means there’s no time to waste. He has essentially started working weeks prior to his inauguration.
  1. A Mind Full Administration: This administration is taking a different approach, carefully and mindfully interviewing and selecting successful business people and others – high-ranking generals – all fully capable of making a difference in the positions which they will serve. Trump has identified individuals who will represent the most important posts in our government. A new America is being formed and things will get done. You will see a country run on principles of business rather than politics and political correctness.
  1. Jobs on the way: The most important aspect of the Trump administration is stimulating the economy to increase jobs in our country. With the huge number of companies who have left the US, Trump will offer benefits to retrieve them and penalties for those who have left, thinking business as usual. As new tax laws take effect, which will be lowered for both individuals and corporations, all will have the opportunity to benefit. Lower taxes free up company dollars, which encourages reinvestment in future business dealings – growing business, adding jobs. In addition, lower taxes will allow new businesses to emerge, another plus to the Houston economy.
  1. Stability in Oil Prices + US Shale: The loss of 200,000 jobs in the energy sector was a shock to our nation when oil prices dropped in 2014. In the meantime, we’ve gotten somewhat comfortable with lower gas prices at the pump, but still seeking stabilization for the price of crude oil. Trump’s new selection of Rick Perry for Secretary of Energy, Rex Tillerson, as Secretary of State and Scott Pruitt to head the EPA – Environmental Protection Agency, will play an important hand in stabilizing US oil – mainly as it pertains to the ability to produce. Trump is in favor of an “energy revolution” but we can only wait until he is sworn in to see if the Trump admin will strategically outmaneuver OPEC, known for historically dominating global oil prices. Trump wants to dismantle regulations on the energy industry, increase production, decrease imports, make the US more independent and not so tied to OPECS influence over global influence of prices.

Savvy picks, strategic thinking, “negotiations are key” and “oil is money” are words I would use to describe the Trump mindset. No more bureaucratic thinking, (or acting) because decision-making positions will get jobs done. Our new government consists of business people, CEOs, deal makers, successful people in general, which equates to our country running on principles of business – not politics. Obviously, a huge change in the direction we’re going will give us a bump in the markets we need.


An Investment with a Future

by Michele Marano. Published Sept 2, 2016

If you’re in and around Houston or outside Texas and in the market for a high-end home as a long-term investment, you might want to look right here.  A captivating home at Creek Bend in Lake Point; a premier, gated, waterfront community in Sugarland, Texas awaits you.  Why an investor opportunity?  Because the buyer will earn an immediate lessee with the purchase.

Houston continues to top the lists, Fastest Growing Metropolitan areas of the U.S., a reason for the consistent attraction to investors from around the globe.  Houston is one of the most diversified cities, creating the largest number of jobs year after year in all areas of business, including oil, technology and research – not to mention The Texas Medical Center being the largest in the world is in Houston.  Most major oil headquarters are located in and area the Houston areas, from Downtown, to the Energy Corridor, Katy and the Woodlands.  Also, with no state income tax, Houston captures the entrepreneurial spirit of start-ups, allowing plenty of space for growth, lots of places to live and an endless list of restaurants to fancy the palette of all tastes.

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Creek Bend is an enclave that sits on a small shoreline called Oyster Creek. Lake Pointe, a masterplanned community situated along Oyster Creek, is conveniently positioned within walking distance to Sugar Land’s Lake Point Town Centre.  Also within arm’s reach is Sugar Land’s Town Square.  Both areas offer an array of fine dining, food hot spots, shops, and Whole Foods Market, as the anchor.  In addition, there are 3 Starbucks, each within a short distance of the home.

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The home, built in 2014 is a mixed flair of contemporary and mediterranean style.  It sits on a corner lot and boasts a classic interior with an open floorpan. Almost everything in the home is a custom upgrade including beautiful honey and clove extra-wide hand scraped floors, a gourmet kitchen with silestone counters, an oversized island with a gas cooktop and Alder custom cabinets – sized to fit a sub-zero refrigerator.  All lighting, including pendants and vanity were customized throughout the home, including both crystal chandeliers in the entry and stairway.

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Large office (above) and guest room (below) on first floor, inside entrance of home.

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Downstairs guest room (above) and gourmet spacious gourmet kitchen (below).

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The master bath (below) was specifically designed with white Carrara marble from floor to ceiling.  The main concept here –  a luxurious space equipped for 2, side by side with large double sink areas for his and her, a jacuzzi style tub and an enormous walk-in shower, almost quadrupled from standard size.  His and her walk-in closets are situated within the master bath – on the opposite side of the bedroom.

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Upstairs has a large landing area for choice of use, 2 additional guest rooms – each with a full bath and a large media room.   One of the guest rooms is transformed into a posh-style nursery (below).

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The home is fully wired for audio/video.  The media room was customized with a beverage/wine refrigerator, a full sink and 2 walls of custom cabinets (below).

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As an extension to the living room, a fabulous outdoor covered patio includes travertine and a gas-burning fireplace set in stacked stone to continue the Mediterranean elevation.  On the other side of the patio is an outdoor kitchen space equipped with ample counter space, a built-in grill and an outdoor beverage refrigerator.

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The home has many advantages for those looking for luxury, with all the features of a million-dollar price tag.  If you want to own in the Houston area, but aren’t ready to relocate just yet, you will want to consider this great opportunity that awaits that special investor.

Michele represents buyers and sellers and is the Founder of “Real Estate for the Energy Professional.”  For more info on this listing, contact Michele at  or 713-899-8420.  MLS number 79070835.


How the Election will Effect Real Estate

I am not here to slap Washington in the face, but I am writing to let you know how the Presidential election will affect our nation’s real estate market.  One would not typically correlate the two, but when you put the items on the table that encompass an election; a new President, economic security, job security, and national security – the health of our real estate market is directly affected.

First of all, it’s important to understand the meaning of  globalization (go to Wikipedia, if you don’t know).  Globalization does not place our citizens, values or our country’s respect first.  Once you’ve grasped the meaning, it will become obvious to you that globalization does not put our country to work.

First and foremost, jobs in the U.S. drives our economy. Our country has a wealth of resources and jobs are derived from them.   That means oil, gas – and every segment of the energy sector- including coal.  Agriculture, fishing, water, etc., are all resources that create jobs.  In addition, we cannot generate jobs in the U.S. while companies are moving their operations overseas.  Corporate inversion doesn’t work for the American people, it takes away jobs and is used to avoid tax burdens.  It puts the wealth of large corporations above the integrity of our county.  As most of you know, our manufacturing has been destroyed, while losing jobs to China – and other countries.  Also, when the flow of immigration floods the lowest income bracket, there is no room for people to advance and it puts downward pressure on workers’ incomes.  This all plays into the downward effects of our economy.

We need a national economy again – not a global economy.  We need prosperity, jobs brought back to the U.S. – manufacturing that operates here.  We need trade deals that puts the U.S. ahead of other country’s’ economies.  We need to use our resources to grow jobs.  We need policies that strengthen our security.  Our country needs to grow its core. Status quo does not make us prosper.  Jobs make us grow.  Jobs grow our economy and a healthy economy allows every American the ability to own a home.  Owning a home is not a privilege.  It’s a part of being an American; people want to work, have job security, economic security and feel safe.  That’s how this election will affect real estate.

Globalization is a movement – a direction in which our current administration has led the U.S.; a path where the democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton will likely continue.  Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, does not opt for this direction.  Britain spoke and just removed itself from a globalized union. While our election in the U.S. takes place in less than 100 days, we will find out just how many Americans want to continue down this global path.  People do not purchase or invest in real estate when they are challenged by economics, jobs and security.  Economic challenges come from a lot of areas – income, expenses, taxation, and the uncertainty of it all.   Be wise.  Know the facts of your party before you vote.

The Rise in Houston’s High-rises

by Michele Marano

Houston is serving up a tall order to those who have longed for living high – high-rise living, that is.  From the Galleria, Inner loop to River Oaks and downtown, a skyline view of Houston is now available in almost all parts of the city.

Houston, a globally recognized city, has its share of residents pouring in from all parts of the world.  Those who’ve lived in some of the largest cites around the globe expect to find similar living environments when they move to Houston.  People want that big city feel, living in tall apartment buildings or condos.  Until recently, Houston has not offered many options, however, those who move here now will have choices.

So why the rise in high-rises?

Houston has never really been a high-rise type city.  Historically, high-rises have been the slowest moving segment in Houston’s housing.   The ones available were older units and didn’t offer the newest technology or luxury amenities that people wanted.  Also, the older the building, the better the chances of paying a high assessment fee to keep up with the repairs for that building.

High-rises just didn’t sell as fast as other single family developments and when the market suffered a blow in 2008-2009, condo units had a shelf live of years.  Some developments under planning were halted and some projects sat idle for quite some time.   Since the recovery, demand in homes strengthened, as did interest in Houston’s high-rises.

While the price of crude peaked in 2012, Houston saw a rise in its population and real estate sales soared.  Residents poured in from all over the U.S. and world, creating  demand for all housing segments.  This called for new accommodations; housing that would appeal to all styles, tastes and prices.  Finally,  builders caught on and recognized a real need.  While the 500k+ housing segment saw record sales, builders realized an opportunity to capitalize on a new housing market in Houston.  Luxury high-rises emerged.

Most projects have come close to completion and some are still underway.  Unfortunately, the only high-rise development planned in The Woodlands stalled out after a turn in oil and as real estate began cooling, so did the project.  The project should move forward, this time around structured to caterer to a broader market, not only multi-million dollar buyers.

Key factors to consider when buying new high-rise construction.

(1) When is it time to buy. Most of the high-rises are new so either you wait till builders reduce or you pay the price.  Always ask for discounts and then make your final decision based on the timing of the purchase.

(2) How long do you plan to own it? Chances are the price will take some time to appreciate and keep in mind, there are more condos in Houston now so competition is likely when you plan to sell.

Luxurious towering high-rises now flourish the city of Houston.  Sky-high lifestyles, sky-high views and price tags that some consider sky-high for Houston.  Although prices may seem somewhat steep, compared to other major cities, they are not.  And if you wait long enough, almost everything turns a profit, even a tall order.

Villas in Benders Landing Estates

Villas at the Crossroads in Benders Landing Estates

If you haven’t been to Benders Landing, it’s worth taking a view.  The Crossroads at Benders Landing is a community within a community.   This is Trendmaker’s only community in Spring – minutes from the Woodlands, a short distance to the ExxonMobil campus, 5 minutes to the Grand Parkway and 30 minutes to downtown Houston.   Trendmaker has developed 4 multi-acre lots inside the entrance to Benders Landing Estates. One of the corners is the called The Villas; the other 3 corners,  The Estates.  The Villas are approximately 2800 – 3000 sq feet.  The Estate homes are 4600 – 5500 sq ft.  These homes are located in a private, gated community.   The Villas have 7 new spec homes for sale and 7 lots left to choose from if you decide to construct from ground up.  After the remaining 14 are sold, there will be no other Villas built – which adds immediate value to this community.  As an owner here, you have access to BLE Clubhouse, which provides tennis courts, an oversized lap pool, a children’s pool/play area, a small workout facility, basketball courts, a soccer field and a launch area for canoe size boats. Prices for these homes are conservative for the area.

For further info contact

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Real Estate: Burst or Bigger?

by Michele Marano, June 2, 2016

Depending on what part of the country you live, some states are showing signs of, yes – once again, a real estate bubble.

New York, which always maintains much higher real estate prices, compared to most other major cities, has soared even higher. So where can these prices go?  Although there seems to be no stopping on the upside – no apparent ceiling, are prices justified based on local economics and global demand?

If you’re familiar with any type of market, you will inherently understand that no market goes in one direction – up – forever.  Markets tend to correct at a 7 year span, so it seems historically proven.  Our last housing bubble was a result of faulty credit ratings the industry failed to recognize in 2007-2009.  While prices peaked near 2006, there was a slow but consistent turn in prices, homes foreclosed and the inflated costs steadily adjusted from New York State to California, hurting major cities in Florida, Arizona and Nevada.

Now, years after the mortgage debacle, the banking industry found comfort again in lending across all states.  With a good credit score and income to prove, you can purchase a home with as little at 10% down, at a 3% interest rate.  But really, are economics so good in these cities that prices cannot stop rising?

I don’t think so. And rates will not stay this low forever.

Typically, a market is driven by demand; good economics and scare land.  Global and local demand push prices to inflated levels, leaving fewer able to purchase, which in turn causes rentals to soar. A typical New York market.

So why doesn’t Texas ever over-inflate?  Houston, a city whose demand is typically driven by the energy industry has already had a correction in lower oil prices, the main reason real estate slows and then flattens and in some areas comes to a halt.   In addition, there is so much land annexed to the city, any growth in population, only levels out pricing.  The good news is the correction is taking place; shaken economics caused by the drop in oil prices and enormous amounts of layoffs for the past year and a half.  Although some people may have lost jobs, it doesn’t crater the real estate market – it only creates a flattening – while cities around the nation are over-inflated.

While sales have halted in areas like the Woodlands and Spring, builders have taken caution selling existing inventory before adding  risk.  Some builders, projecting  a near future increase in demand have started projects that will not be complete for 6-12 months, keeping things at a slow pace until the market heats back up – and surely it will.

So what makes Houston so attractive to buyers?  Housing costs remain lower than the national average, even when the market is soaring.  Houston, considered the Energy Capital of the World, keeps investors and foreign buyers pouring in from around the globe.  This helps maintain a momentum in sales even when things slow – housing under 250k is attractive to investors and new buyers and housing over 500k is an option to those who want to maintain a secondary residence – whether it’s for business or investment.  ( I”ll discuss Houston’s multi-million dollar high-rise market next month.)

In addition, Austin maintains “most desired” city to live for many reasons:

  1. Center for Film
  2. Center for Technology – Silicon Valley Southwest
  3. Home of the Formula 1’s Circuit of the Americas raceway.
  4. A place Fortune 500 companies are either headquartered or have regional offices which include Apple Inc, Cisco, eBay, Google, IBM, Intel, Texas Instruments, Oracle Corp., Whole Foods Market, and of course Dell is headquarter moments away in Round Rock – a small suburb.

Texas, a state which allows for a very good real estate market – unlike other cities, gives one the ability to purchase at discounts, and then profit when the market turns.  Of course, you must have the smarts of how and when to do so.  You just need to recognize when there’s an opportunity to buy and know when the time comes to sell.

While other parts of the nation may be bubbling, the risk of that happening in Texas is minimal to none, as things have already cooled off.  Oil being on the down since last year (and now slowly inching up) has allowed the market to level – a chance to sustain moderate pricing – not over-inflated levels like in some of the states I’ve mentioned.   For more info. contact Michele@MicheleMarano.

Next month, what’s up with Houston’s rise in high-rises?