Has it really been a whole year since the famed house at 5623 Willow Walk Ln. in Huntwick Forest — touted by its sales agent, Paul Gomberg, as “the Filthiest House in Houston” — first appeared on the market? No, but the Chronicle‘s Darla Guillen has provided a “one year later” update on the storied property a full 4 months early. And really, with some of the newest pungent and juicy details she reports, why wait?
Gomberg first put the property on the market last December, detailing the home’s assembled collections of condiments, garbage, and animal deposits. “The foul stench of animals & their waste products permeates,” the listing summary noted, and at least one photo description included the always-colorful descriptor “feces galore.” In early January, Swamplot featured one of the tamer images from that listing as its Home Listing Photo of the Day. Later that week, Gomberg came out with this video tour of the property:
Capital-R Realtor Jessica Arnett brought a price-reduced 4-bedroom house in Spring into the nationalspotlight this week by dressing up in a panda suit throughout the property’s listing photos. While there’s more than one way to panda to potential buyers, this particular tactic has been tried before: Arnett reportedly says the idea came from a British home listing from last month, in which the seller did roughly the same thing.
Arnett has already received calls from other real estate agents asking where to obtain a panda suit. But the stunt itself may be endangered — the British seller has already reversed course on bearing it all, and the photos in his listing have been replaced with more standard fare. And Arnett readily admits that this kind of marketing likely doesn’t have much room to grow and multiply — while the Houston Chroniclereported earlier this week that she was open to the possibility of using the suit a sparing once or twice a year, her tone had changed by the time she spoke to Realtor.com’s Judy Dutton:
Leather-clad real estate agent Paul Gomberg, perhaps best known for the sales video of that Champion Forest house filled with excrement that made the rounds back in early January, is now starring in a less nose-threatening video tour — this one of a squeaky-clean 2011 mansion on Lake Conroe. The punchline this time: a suit-and-tie-clad 11-year-old that Gomberg chaperons around the property, who ultimately leaves the contract-ready agent hanging on the steps of the house pending parental permission to close the deal.
The house at 12386 Tramonto Dr., which first went on the market in October of 2014 for $1.6 million, was dropped to just below $1.5 million on Tax Day in 2015, two weeks before an early May relisting. The asking price dropped again last July to the current $1.35 million.
COMMENT OF THE DAY: AN INSIDE-THE-LOOP STATUS REPORT “I am a real estate agent in the Heights-Montrose area. While sales are down a bit in volume, prices are still slowly rising. Correct: 2014 was a banner year, the likes of which may not be seen again for another few years. We are seeing price reductions on listings that were speculating the continuation of the rapid price increases — however, when the prices are brought down, they still sell. Here inside the Loop, we are quite busy, and the good stuff under 500k is moving nicely.” [Freddie, commenting on Houston Home Sales Continue To Tumble; One More Link in the Grand Parkway] Illustration: Lulu
What better character to hawk a house slathered in animal dung than a leather-jacketed agent from Rockstar Real Estate Group?Rhinestone-lovingPaul Gomberg, who operates under the umbrella of Keller Williams Conroe/Lake Conroe, posted a video tour yesterday of a house featured on Swamplot on Monday (which, as commenters noted, included captions such as “Feces galore!”).
Gomberg seems eager to share his delight for the house at 5623 Willow Walk Ln., calling it “one of the best listings he’s had in the last 2 weeks” (even while warning his cameraman to hold his nose against what his HAR listing calls the “foul stench” permeating the interior). Gomberg posted the tour to YouTube last night — despite the fact that the property appears to have been under contract since December 20, after only 1 day on the market.
The house, currently listed at $125,000, originally sold for $280,000 in 2012, when it looked like this:
Doug Britton thought he had the deal of a lifetime:a contract to buy 101 acres of land (in red on the map) just south of the spot in Spring where — it was rumored at the time — ExxonMobil planned to develop a new corporate campus. And it was available for cheap: just $5 million. Britton contacted two brokers at Bandier Partners to help him move on it.
HOW HAR AGENTS GET THOSE GLOWING REVIEWS ONLINE HAR’s pioneering ratings program for real-estate agents gets a bit of scrutiny from the Wall Street Journal’s Smart Money magazine. Among the amazing stats: A mere 1.4 percent of all ratings on HAR come in at less than 4 stars; meanwhile, on Angie’s List 5.9 percent of real-estate-agent reviews have equivalent “mediocre to poor” scores, and on Yelp the number is 18.5 percent. Agents participating in the Houston Association of Realtors program earn an average rating of 4.94 out of 5. How do they chalk up such glowing reviews? “In reality, that 4.94 represents the average score of just 12 percent of the association’s agents. Another 7 percent participate in the rating program but don’t make their results public. The rest — some 17,000 real estate pros — don’t get rated at all, either by choice or because they haven’t completed enough transactions. The group surveys only customers who have closed deals, leaving out everyone who, satisfied or not, walked away. Those qualifications help explain why fewer than 0.3 percent of the Houston agents have been awarded a low one-star rating by their clients — a figure that seems to defy reality, given all the things that can go wrong in a home deal. (The association says low-rated agents often opt out of the program.)” Reporter Alyssa Abkowitz quotes Katy agent Patricia Gant about the one black mark that brought her overall rating down to a comparatively low 4.4 out of 5 stars: “I would’ve never sent [a survey] to her,” she says, “if I’d had any idea that she’d give me one star.” [Smart Money]
A reader from the Heights sends in photos documenting only the latest scene in Houston’s long and theatrical history of commingled real estate and political ambition. If you like, say, the pricing on the homes Karen Derr’s former company sells — like this one at 946 Arlington St. — you’ll certainly want to see Derr join city council!
But what’s with that part in red letters? Maybe just to let voters know she’s a little less favorably disposed toward freeform demolition than, say, former candidate/broker Michael Berry was. Writes our reader and snapshooter:
I am guessing that Karen Derr’s office rec’d so many calls as to the future of this house- one the few remaining 19th century homes in the Heights, that she had the “Remodel” sign made and stuck atop her broker sign. . . . Karen used to be on the board of the Houston Heights Association and she is locally active and running for office, so she does not want to piss off too much of her long time neighbors.
Here’s a brand-new home-search tool that will likely change the way you hunt for residential properties in Houston. And you can find it on the website of . . . a real estate agent working out of this Pearland strip center??
Actually, the new search tool is just a branded implementation of Diverse Solutions’ dsSearchAgent, which has been around for a few years in other markets, and received a major makeover late last fall. The same system might be hiding on some other area broker’s website, but this is the first we’ve seen it working with Houston MLS data.
READY FOR THE NEXT RACE Last week, Realtor Karen Derr had to give up her plan to run in the special election for City Council’s District H seat, after she failed to meet the paperwork deadline to get herself on the ballot. Abc13’s Miya Shay tracks her latest plans: “Derr’s retooled website now says she’s running for At Large 1. That’s the seat currently occupied by Peter Brown. The election is in November, so it’s certainly not too early to start. The joke at City Hall is that At-Large seats are usually easier jobs. If your sidewalk is mangled or you need a speed bump, you call your district council member. So, what do At-Large council members do? Mainly, with no district to manage, At-Large council members are allowed to address issues they are passionate about. It might be housing, public safety, city finances, or some less well defined passion. Then there is the other passion I find politicians can’t live without: running for another elected office.” [Houston Political Blog; previously on Swamplot]