While the weather so far in 2012 might be characterized as lukewarm, the same cannot be said for the 2011 real estate market in the greater Houston area. Total property sales were up 4.3 percent versus 2010 sales and the average single-family sales price was 0.9 percent higher. That might not set the world on fire, but other cities across the country would kill to have a plus sign in front of their stats.

Maybe it is a sign of the times, but crime is definitely on the rise—at least reports of crime are. Whether the actual number of incidents is increasing or just the number of people who are letting HAR know, we are receiving far too many reports of alleged scams and criminal activity surrounding our members. Even one call is too many.  Above all else, stay safe!

HAR strives to help our members be as efficient and effective in your business as possible. That means always developing new tools and services that change as the market changes. We received quite a bit of feedback from members that help us know what you like and what could be improved.

What can I say about Dr. Ted C. Jones? In addition to being a former chairman of HAR, he is also one of the absolute best economists in the country. Each year, he kicks off the Nextgen REALTOR® Group season with what has internally become known as “Ted at the Fed” event where he reviews the previous year and gives his forecast for how the market will be this year. If you missed the event, make sure you look for it next year. It is one not to be missed.

If you are a commercial member of HAR, you will want to know that HAR’s Commercial Gateway has introduced new free analysis software called Investit Lite. This versatile and comprehensive rela estate analysis software will help you value, list and sell properties, negotiate leases and help your clients make informed choices.

The Houston City Council has voted to approve restrictions on residential high-rises that abut some single-family residences. This is just the first step in a larger package of proposals to update the City’s development code.

When I have read surveys about the skill set that REALTORS® most want to develop, it is almost always negotiation. That is also always one of the top responses from consumers about what they want in the REALTOR® they hire. Why not become a Certified Master Negotiation Expert (MCNE)?  It isn’t the easiest designation to earn and requires six courses to be completed, but doesn’t everything in life that means anything require a little effort?

Until next month.