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 Latoya Mack, a Realtor with New Home Programs in Houston.
Houston Agent (HA): Our coverage of the fiscal cliff – and the possibility that Houston’s real estate market may avoid its reach – garnered quite a bit of attention from our readers. Have you found that outside policy like the fiscal cliff affects your business or clients?
Latoya Mack (LM): Yes, I do find that outside policy affects the real estate market to a certain degree. The key element is making sure that existing and potential clients are informed and understand the implications of such policies as the fiscal cliff. As your article of the fiscal cliff mentioned, Houston’s real estate market is highly unlikely to be affected, which is what potential homebuyers need to know. In my business, I primarily represent first-time homebuyers who have never owned a home before, and are nervous about moving forward for various reasons. As a real estate professional, it is my job to address any concerns they may have, and to inform them of the Houston market condition to assist them in finding the right home and a home that they will enjoy for the long haul.
HA: How do you approach your marketing? Do you find syndication and the Internet to be an effective model, or do you have other methods as well?
LM: Syndication and the Internet are very valuable and effective tools for building my business. The firm that I am a part of, NewHomePrograms.com, started off as just a website. However, in a few short years, we have helped so many families achieve homeownership that we have been able to grow here in Houston and gain leads in other states where we are licensed, such as Florida and Pennsylvania, and we anticipate taping into more states throughout the United States very soon.
Also, because of our very unique faith-based business model, where we provide free credit enhancement and help buyers qualify for the numerous downpayment assistance programs available from the city, state and local agencies, we get many referrals from very satisfied clients.
HA: Finally, what advice do you have for clients who, despite being underwater on their current mortgage, are interested in looking for a new home?
LM: Sellers are now seeing their home values increase due to a returning market across the country and low inventory levels. My advise would be for them to take advantage of programs like the HARP program to refinance, which will help them get rid of some of that negative equity, continue to pay down their principle balance and other monthly debt, and to free up their monthly debt obligations to increase their chances of obtaining another mortgage for their next purchase. Credit requirements are stricter these days, and a seller has to be prepared before they sell their home; if not, they will end up going from a homeowner back to being a renter.