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 Veronica Barefield, the team leader for Keller Williams in Spring, an office with 130 agents and more than $56 million in sales volume so far in 2012.
Houston Agent (HA): Last week, we debuted a new feature, “By the Numbers,” and we looked at what real estate offices in Houston have grown the most since 2009. Can you talk a little bit about how has your office grown, in recent months?
Veronica Barefield (VB): My office has grown pretty drastically, and a lot of it has to do with the real estate schools. People are getting their license and going into a real estate career – regardless of what the media is saying, these agents are seeing the shift in the market. They are seeing historically low mortgage rates, and definitely, we are seeing a lot of agents coming aboard.
This month alone, we’ve added five new agents, and I would say we’ve added anywhere between three to seven new agents a month in 2012. In 2008, we were adding anywhere between one to two agents a month, so it’s a dramatic change.
HA: One of our more consistently popular stories is our investigation into real estate’s top syndication sites, and how agents can effectively utilize them in their business. How do your agents use syndication sites, and do you find they are effective?
VB: Our listings and our agent’s information goes out to more than 350 syndication sites, including Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com. They have been great to us in the sense that, with buyers and sellers now on the Internet, our agents listings are being marketed all over the Internet – for free. This also creates different avenues where buyers and sellers can go to get our information, whether they’re searching for an agent or a home. That’s been a benefit to our agents.
Syndication doe have a downfall – an agent’s listing may be advertised by another brokerage/agent, one who has a paid advertising subscription. The great thing about Keller Williams is that we have an agreement with all Keller Williams syndicated sites that our agent’s leads can only be advertised by our agent, and without a paid advertising subscription. At Keller Williams, we have a “you listing, your lead” philosophy.
HA: Our story on the potential vice presidency of Paul Ryan, and what it could mean for the housing market, also got quite a bit of attention last week. With the November elections fast approaching, how should agents engage in the political process?
VB: For one, I’m a big advocate to vote. It’s our right, regardless of what political side you may be on. I also think it’s very important to not only get involved nationally, but locally, because it does affect decisions and laws made within our region. I’m involved in TREPAC; I’m not on the board, but I do contribute and support the organization, because they are constantly advocating for us and every aspect of our business.
I definitely encourage all our agents to get involved, because it does matter, from something as simple as our vehicles being able to be written off for our tax purposes, or when it comes to homeowner associations, or taxes with all the communities. I definitely encourage all my agents to get involved locally.