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 Barbara Cegielski, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors, who has been in real estate for 30 years and currently works in The Woodlands; Barbara close 26 transactions in 2012, and her sales volume exceeded $6 million.
Houston Agent (HA): Our most popular story the last couple weeks has been our coverage of the priciest ZIP codes in Houston; in your respective market, what areas have you found to be generating the most interest among homebuyers?
Barbara Cegielski (BC): Creekside, obviously. Buyers gravitate to new construction. We have a very transient buyer here, and in other major cities, you don’t have new construction. Like San Francisco, for instance, you only have older homes, but in Houston, you get the opportunity to buy a new house at a very reasonable price.
With new construction, you get the latest and greatest of the new designs; they just knock your socks off with their open floor plans, as opposed to the older homes, which are more compartmentalized with their lower ceilings and raised entryways.
HA: Our coverage of online syndication marketing remains popular among our readers; have you found any of the “Big 3” syndication sites to be the effective for your business?
BC: Zillow and Trulia, no. But with Realtor.com, Coldwell Banker pays for all of our listings to be upgraded with lots of information and photos, whereas Realtor.com (initially) is limited. For an individual, it’s very expensive, but Coldwell Banker helps with the cost.
Most of my business, though, is word-of-mouth referrals and some relocations. I’m on the Internet, but most of my business is repeat business; in real estate, it’s not what you know, but who you know.
Leads, though, do come from syndication; that’s why we have so many tools and avenues. You never know where it’s going to come from. It can come from yard signs, your advertisement, personal referrals – which doesn’t happen to a lot of people, because they haven’t been in the business for that long. It can come from an open house, it can come from Zillow, Realtor.com, your magazine – you never know where it’s going to come from.
HA: Finally, we also looked at what kinds of properties generate the most interest among homebuyers; what amenities and features have you found to be in the most demand about buyers?
BC: Here in The Woodlands, it’s 90 percent single family. We have some townhomes, but very few condominiums, which are more of an urban product.
Most of our buyers are young buyers with children. Some of them are empty nesters that still want a single-family (home), they just don’t want all the square footage and all the yard space of patio homes, which can be extremely pricey with all the amenities. So what they get is very, very nice, but smaller. The other product that’s really booming is the one-story, which is gaining tremendously.