Currently, Michale Berry is running an ad on KPRC which he begins by saying something like, “before I was in radio, I was in politics, and before I was in politics, I was in real estate. I loved working real estate.” Or words to that effect.
From a 2003 article in Houston Press by Tim Fleck,
One of the more intriguing transactions was his own Westheimer business-residence. Berry’s company, Brenham Partners Limited, purchased it from a South African in 2000 for $250,000. Five days later, Brenham sold the property to Michael and Nandy for $315,000, a $65,000 markup. A source familiar with the deal claims it was a quick way to realize a swift infusion of cash into the family budget, through the company Berry controlled.
When questioned about the transaction, Berry initially explained the difference in the two sales prices as improvements made to the building. Confronted with the fact that the transactions were only five days apart, Berry said, “Is that right? I mean, to tell you the truth, I don’t really remember.”
Although Berry didn’t volunteer it, a source says one of the less savory aspects of his business was the purchase and quick resale of low-income apartment complexes. This person remembers Berry spending part of his time collecting rents from substandard dwellings full of undocumented immigrants.
“Michael had these people over a barrel. He was basically a slumlord and charged them to live in squalid conditions, and they couldn’t complain about it.
Just think about everything Berry has said over the years about immigrants.
Berry denies that. “No, that’s not true. I mean, they were not River Oaks properties, but by the same token I didn’t check the immigration status, but I feel certain the residents were not illegal aliens.”
One of the complexes he purchased was on Brandt Street in east Montrose. Resident Morgan Mull remembers meeting Berry when he bought the dilapidated 30-unit complex in early 2000.
“When he first bought the property, he was around quite a bit, fixing it up a little,” recalls Mull. “He was very affable, nice. Went through all these paint chips to see what kind of color would be best, which I thought was kind of odd.”
Later, Mull says, he noticed dope dealers and prostitutes moving into vacant units. He is convinced that Berry quickly filled the complex to give the impression to potential buyers that it had full occupancy. He sold the apartments to a young woman as the situation worsened.
According to Houston police records, calls to the apartments for a variety of complaints ranging from drug dealing to prostitution to burglary surged in the last month’s of Berry’s ownership, and peaked after the new owner took over, with an average of 28 calls a month. By comparison, police were called to the complex only four times in the first six months of this year.
Do you think Berry owned up?
Shortly after selling the complex, Berry moved on to politics.
Anyone who would take real estate advice form Michale Berry is absolutely crazy.
There’s more to this article, which unfortunately is no longer free online. If you have access to Lexis/Nexis (like at a public library), you can look it up, just like I did.
Next up: why would anyone take political advice from Michale Berry?