Viewpoints: Monique Kaufman, Realtor, My Castle Realty, Houston

by Houston Agent


Monique Kaufman is a Realtor with My Castle Realty in Houston.

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 Monique Kaufman of My Castle Realty. Kaufman has been a real estate investor and property manager for more than a decade, and her team annually funds over $100 million in Houston residential real estate. In 2010, The RICH Club featured her on their “Expert Panel for Property Management and Landlording,” and she received the 2012 Agent of the Year award. She also is a former Board Member of the Young Friends of the Ronal McDonald House and the current Co-Chair of the Auction Committee for The Fanatical Change Foundation.

Houston Agent (HA): What kinds of real estate websites do you use?

Monique Kaufman (MK): I use HAR.com, the Houston Association of Realtors’ website. My reason for doing that is because HAR.com provides information that is accurate, current and up-to-date. Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com are wonderful because they reach out to a lot of people. However, the information they provide is not accurate. No one is on those sites actively monitoring it and actively making sure the information on there is current. On HAR.com, they strongly go through that site and make sure that the information on there is accurate.

As a Realtor, if you do not list or provide accurate information on HAR.com or your listing information is not current, you can be fined for it. So it is up to us to make sure that information is always accurate, current and up-to-date. I think it’s better for the consumers and Realtors to have that information, so that’s why I exclusively use HAR.com.

HA: What are other ways to create exposure for you and your business? Are there methods that don’t work you for you?

MK: The best form of exposure and relationship building is networking. And I don’t just mean Chamber of Commerce meetings, happy hours, and things like that. In addition to these things I mentioned above, I also reach out to parents at my daughter’s school, people at the park and the grocery store. In regular day-to-day conversation with people, I just let them know what I do. And not in a way that sells or pushes myself onto them, but just in passing while having a conversation.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had people on Facebook as friends that reach out to me and say, “Hey, I remember you said that you’re a Realtor, can you help me out?” Basic networking in normal day-to-day, social, unstructured, activities is what I utilize, not just the typical networking events.

I don’t like cold calls. When I say that, I mean as far as someone sees a sign on a yard that says “For Sale By Owner,” or in the “For Sale Buy Owner” magazines, some agents will pick up a phone and call that phone number to reach out to the seller. I don’t like that at all.

For one thing, I’ve been on the other end of it, before I was an agent. I listed a property for sale by owner and I got so many phone calls from Realtors, sounding almost machine-like and robotic, with a script in front of them that said, “Let me help you out and be your Realtor.” It was almost like a telemarketer constantly calling and bothering me. I don’t like that kind of call, and I don’t recommend other Realtors do that.

HA: Reports have been showing lately that Houston’s market is on a hot streak – prices have increased and people are having bidding wars over properties. Are you seeing this occurring in your area of Houston?

MK: It’s happening all over Houston – it’s actually happening in other cities beyond Texas, such as California, but it’s not nearly as fantastic as the Houston area. Less houses are for sale now and more people want to buy. With the end of the elections and the end of the recession, more and more people are having more faith in the government and the way things stand right now in the economy. Because of that, they feel more comfortable and more secure going after these houses.

Naturally, rates have really helped. We’re seeing 3 year mortgages at 3.5 percent, which is incredible. More and more buyers want to go out there and buy houses. However, there are less houses on the market. With less houses on the market and more consumers, you’re going to have a really hot streak.

Builders are building more houses to keep up with the demand. That’s the only way to do it. More people aren’t going to start selling their houses to keep up with the dam and, builders are going to keep building. This is great for builders, but one of the reasons is why there is such a hot streak in houses is because of investors.

That’s why there are so many bidding wars over properties. Those investors want to come in and bid on these houses and they’re not afraid to bid higher on houses, which means a typical consumer who wants to live in the house is out of luck, or they’re having to pay more on it. Well, builders are building more houses so investors oftentimes stay away from new construction. They don’t buy brand new houses because they know it creates more houses for consumers and individuals who are going to reside in those houses to buy it.

I think it will go on as long as they can keep up with the demand. Any bubble is going to burst at some point, but I think as long as rates stay where they are and people are willing to pay for these houses, it’s going to keep going up. Houston is the leader nationwide in new home start-up. Four out of the six leaders are in Texas, which is phenomenal for Houston because a lot of these builders are local. People are having the best time going after these new construction houses.

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