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 Cody Phillips, a Realtor with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene. Phillips’s areas of expertise are in The Woodlands and the Inner Loop of Houston. He has two years of real estate experience, and 10 years of high-line luxury experience with customer service for, and has incorporated that into the business models he has now.
Houston Agent (HA): What kinds of online marketing have you found to be the most successful for your real estate business?
Cody Phillips (CP): My most successful way of online marketing is through Facebook and social media. I define “successful” is spending as little money as possible reaching as many people as I can throughout my network, and the best way for me to do that is through social media. I also make videos from my Apple computer about the house I’m showing and where its at, and I post them on social media sites. At the end of the day, the most cost-effective thing I’ve used social media and classic marketing: walk and drive around neighborhoods and meeting people. When you’re talking to people, that’s the best thing, because it gets them to trust you. You could use all the marketing in the world, but if people don’t trust you, they aren’t going to use you.
I absolutely plan on making more videos. It’s been really good for business, because people recognize them and like them. Agents and potential buyers remember me as “the guy who did those James Bond-esque videos” [view his video here]. Those are the types of things that are extremely successful and popular: who can you cater to get things without having to pay for them? There’s a lot you can do electronically and through Facebook.
HA: What are your predictions for the Houston market this year?
CP: This year, it’s going to be extremely busy. I think the market’s going to stay the same. Houston’s a big oil market. We have a big number of oil companies, and a number of businesses are branched off the oil business, whether it be through tools, equipment or something else. So, as long as the market stays good with the oil companies, then business will stay good for the Houston area, and the Woodlands area, which is where I work.
However, there are spots in Houston that are not good areas. Those areas won’t see that big of a change because people don’t generally want to live there. But in the good areas, you’re going to see an increase in sales and value of homes, just because there’s more people coming into the economy as a whole, based off of the oil business. This is the lowest supply of houses we’ve had in a very, very long time, but we’ve increased the people that want to come in, so the desire and need for houses has increased as well. So what you get is a simple “supply and demand.” I constantly see people making offers at full price and then competing over who’s going to pay more at the end of the day. It makes for a good run, because it’s next year, but I think essentially it will level off.
I’m actually a little worried we’re going to get too inflated in the next few years and we going to see people asking too much for houses, and houses going too much. The Houston market is very conservative, and we’ve been very conservative with our pricing. But we’ve been getting a lot of international people coming in, and they’re used to paying higher prices for houses. When they come to Houston, they’ll realize they can get a lot more for a lot less. In the next few years, we’re going to see an obvious leveling off of the market, and possibly a little bit of a scare, in my opinion, just based off the fact that things are going to be moving so fast that we’re going to hit a wall.
HA: What advice would you give to new agents on how to succeed in real estate?
CP: In today’s market with real estate, it is absolutely essential have a mentor. If you don’t have a mentor in this business, it is very, very, very difficult to be successful. When I got into this business, people talked to me about doing property time, answering phones at the office, going and doing for-sale-buy-owners.
That does not work anymore because you have agents out there that are flat-fee agents. I think it’s a terrible, terrible way to market houses. I think it’s going to ruin a lot of what Realtors can do. It provides a cheap way of selling your house, but the unfortunate thing is that the person doesn’t care – all they care about is their flat fee, and then they let you go. So when it comes to these agents that get into this business, they really need a mentor that can show them the ropes. I’m very fortunate – I was raised in the luxury automobile business with Lexus, Bentley and Rolls Royce.
So I’ve been thorough hundreds of hours of sales class and how to deal with clients with the “white glove” type of customer service. I’m glad that I had that before I went into real estate because I see a ton of people who have been in real estate for a very long time, but don’t do a very good job of selling or taking care of their customers. So these young agents who come in really need to find someone that can help them out and teach them the art of being a real estate agent. Otherwise they’re going to be in one ear and out the other. It’s a very difficult market. You can’t just go out there and not make any money and continue to live. You have to find somebody to teach you the art of being a real estate agent and how to take care of people.
You also have to utilize your market and your network of friends and family. And it’s going to take some time for these young agents that are new into the business to establish a business for themselves. Their name has to be synonymous with selling real estate. If it’s not, then they’re only making it hard on themselves. So they have to get with somebody who knows what they’re doing, they have to get with a mentor who can help them in this business and they have to utilize their networking skills. Otherwise, life gets very difficult, and you will get out of this business real fast.