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 Randall Stewart, the broker/owner of Randall Stewart Properties in Downtown Houston, who sells properties all throughout the Houston metropolitan area and has two part-time agents working out of his office.
Houston Agent (HA): Our story regarding online rating systems for real estate agents generated quite a few hits last week. Do you focus on any specific websites or ratings systems to improve your business?
Randall Stewart (RS): I don’t concentrate on the Internet; I basically depend on making sure that those that I work with are very satisfied with their service, and they refer me to new business.
When I started out 12 years ago, though, I worked for an online apartment locating service, and in 2000, very few apartment locating services used the Internet to get leads. And the company that I worked for, that was their major source of leads. So, probably for the first six years to eight years of my career, that was the way I got most of my leads. And, of course, those people, being satisfied customers, referred me to other people.
I have a website now, and I do get a few leads from that website; but most of my referrals come from my own personal business and from clients who are satisfied with my services, and they refer me to their friends and family.
HA: Speaking of websites, our story on the top syndication websites (Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com) continues to attract readers. Is syndication something you utilize in your current business model?
RS: The people who do my website have me tied in with those sites, so my listings are marketed on those other sites. And even with HAR.com, it will often pick up other real estate sites. I basically take what I’m doing [on my website] and broadcast it to anyone that’s searching the [syndication sites].
HA: We had a story last week that looked at mortgage closing costs across the nation, and how in Texas, homebuyers actually pay among the highest closing costs in the U.S. Is that ever something you hear from your buyer clients?
RS: No, I’ve never heard that statement made. I know closing costs can be expensive, but I’ve never heard anyone make that statement.
When I have a buyer, and I write an offer to a seller, I normally ask the seller to pay 3 percent of the closing costs; they don’t always do that, but many times they do. I always ask, unless the other agent states upfront that the seller will not pay for the closing costs.
I also work with my buyers, and I tell them that if they are wanting to low-ball an offer to a seller, it’s best not to ask for closing costs if they’re trying to get the best price for the house. But many of the buyers I work with with, they either need [the seller to cover the closing costs] or they want to ask for it.