Every week, we ask a Houston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before.
This week, we talked with Cathy Trevino, the director of the Multicultural Division of Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene, a brokerage with 1,662 active listings, $1,255,282,384.00 in sales volume, and 800 agents in 21 offices.
Houston Agent (HA): Our story on HAR’s bilateral agreement with AMPI got quite a bit of attention from Houston real estate agents; can you speak to the presence of Hispanic homebuyers in Houston’s market, and what you think the agreement suggests about the future of housing in Houston?
Cathy Trevino (CT): I attended the TAR International Committee Meeting on Sept. 7 where AMPI signed the cross-border, business-building agreement, and I believe it will provide for corporation and collaboration in real estate throughout the region. In addition, 75 such partnerships were established between the local Realtor associations and local chapters of AMPI during the conference.
This will allow for more international business to be done more easily between Mexico and the U.S., which will ultimately bring more buyers to our country. This was a historical event, and I was so excited to have experienced it first-hand.
I do believe that this will open doors for the Hispanic community to be able to do more business here in the U.S., as many Mexican businesses are looking to invest their companies here, bring their families over to experience our schools and live in our communities where they can be safe. This agreement is definitely a move in the right direction for Realtors doing business in Mexico and internationally.
HA: We often hear about syndication sites and their increasing presence in real estate; what has been your experience with those sites, and how would you recommend agents use them in their business?
CT: As many are aware that Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com are the leading Realtor sites in most of the country, our Realtor community has to understand how this positions them in the eyes of the consumer. In Houston, we are very grateful for our local association and the leadership of Bob Hale. The Houston Association of Realtors is the leading Realtor Association in the US because of the forward thinking of Bob Hale and the phenomenal staff who has created a tremendous amount of tools for its members.
In Houston, HAR is the numer one Realtor site, beating out Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. With that said, we as Realtors need to get with the program and understand why it is so important to be found on the Internet. I believe that every agent should be sure to have a current agent profile on every one of these sites, as well as Yelp, which is where information is pulled when communicating with Siri on your iPhone. Agent ratings will become the way that Realtors will be selected going forward, and if you do not have a rating on Yelp, you will not be found.
Consumers search Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com nationally, and therefore, it is vital that an agent have a profile on these sites and as many other sites as possible, because you never know where a consumer will be looking. The one thing that I would like to emphasize is that even though information on these sites may not always be up to date, they are where the consumers go, and in order to be found, Realtors need have a current profile with ratings so they can be selected.
HA: Finally, whether it’s a blog, a HAR profile, or a page on Trulia or Zillow, how can agents effectively market their abilities to attract new business, and stop users from clicking away to the next agent’s profile?
CT: I believe, as mentioned above, that in order for agents to be selected and not overlooked on the Internet, they MUST have a current profile, picture, language (if they are fluent in multiple languages, this can be very important) and ratings. Consumers want to read how others view the agents based on their past customer experiences.
Also, most consumers do not understand our acronyms for Realtor designations, so agents need to write them out or even give an explanation of what the designations mean so that consumers can understand the training and education that that agent has received in order to better service their clients. We have surpassed the days of agents bragging about how much production they have done and its “all about me” syndrome. Consumers want to see your ratings!
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