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 to Amy Bernstein, the president of Bernstein Realty, a firm she founded in 1985 and is on pace to sell more than $140 million in real estate in 2012.
Houston Agent (HA): NAR’s 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers reported numerous findings on homebuyers in 2012, but perhaps none was more valuable than what the association found regarding how buyers search for homes. As real estate changes, how can agents ensure that prospective homebuyers are seeing their listings?
Amy Bernstein (AB): When the Internet first came in to being, and we were posting all our listings online, real estate brokers were quite concerned that we’d be out of a job; but in fact, it’s been the exact opposite, and it’s really helped us tremendously, because the consumers today are very information-thirsty, and they can get on the Internet and not only see what’s available, but click on the home and see the majority of the inside of the home to see if it’s anything they want to see.
So quite frankly, a lot of homes are either ruled in or ruled out in terms of going to make a personal visit by the use of the Internet. So it’s our job as real estate brokers to make every one of our listings have the best Internet presence available. So we do the best to make sure our photographs is beautiful, and we don’t just photograph the home, but we photograph special features of the home … we’ve got to give them enough information to make them want to see the home. So a good Internet presence is something very important.
HA: More specifically, syndication has played a greater and greater role in marketing; is syndication on sites such as Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com a part of your business, or have you found more effective avenues for Internet marketing?
AB: We do [use Trulia and Zillow], but the best site is HAR.com. Houston really has an award-winning website, and I think we find more people on HAR.com than on any other syndication site, from my experience. Certainly there are people on Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com as well, but people moving to or from Houston utilize HAR.com as a staple. In fact, there are some people that become so addicted to HAR.com that even after the closing of their home, they stay on there.
We do use social media quite a bit, as well. Bernstein Realty has a Facebook page, I personally have a Facebook page and we do post information about our listings on our site. We post information about our listings, we post open houses and we do use our site very interactively.
HA: And finally, as the housing market recovers, do you think the characteristics of homebuyers will change, as more consumers decide the time is right to purchase a home? Or do you think your client base will remain the same, going forward?
AB: Houston never really needed a recovery period; we never had that vertical appreciation that so many other places had. We’ve had a slow and stready growth over the years, so we never really hit a low point. What we did see was consumer confidence was down. So really, I don’t see it as Houston needing to be a recovery market, but I see more buyers in this market than there’ve ever have been.
This is an exciting time for real estate buyers and sellers, and all the indicators are pointing to a really strong 2013, based on the economy, and consumer confidence, and interest rates, so we’re very, very excited. And as our business moves so fast, it’s very important for any consumer, whether it’s a buyer or a seller and no matter how much information they can get off the Internet, that they have a real estate professional guide them through the process.