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 Tim Surratt of Greenwood King Properties. He has been a Realtor for 21 years and earned the No. 1 Top Sales Agent honor at Greenwood King nine times in the past 12 years. He was recognized by the Houston Business Journal as one of the top two Realtors in Houston. Surratt is on the Board of the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) and the DePelchin Children’s Center, in addition to volunteering for other charitable organizations.
Houston Agent (HA): Realtors and appraisers don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to valuing homes. Is there any advice you’d give to other Realtors to make this process go smoothly?
Tim Surratt (TS): We actually haven’t had any trouble with appraisals in the last few years, so I really haven’t experienced that issue. I think you can prevent problems by pricing houses to the market fairly based on what comps you have. In other words, you basically look at it with an appraiser’s eye: here are the things that are sold and this is what we’re basing our price on. If they go over that and had multiple offers on it, we show the appraisers the other offers that we got that justify the price, or we had five or six offers that were over full price.
HA: Are there any online marketing strategies you use? What has and hasn’t worked for you in the past?
TS: We get a tremendous amount of business from HAR.com, the Houston Association of Realtor’s website. It’s probably one of the best websites in the Untied States for real estate. It’s worked very well. It’s very easy to use, it’s very consumer-friendly and the consumers love it. They feel they don’t need to go anywhere else because it’s very fresh and very helpful. It gets national recognition constantly – people from other cities come to Houston to see how it’s done. Even people from cities with big MLSs, like New York, come to see how HAR has done it because it works so well.
I’ve spent a lot of money on Google marketing in the past, and never received one single call from it ever. I think it’s easy to get lost in the commotion of their other ads. It just didn’t work for me.
HA: The housing market has been recovering, but research shows that lending standards are still tight. Do your clients still have problems getting mortgages? And do you see lending easing at all as the market recovers?
TS: They still have to have really stellar credit to get a mortgage. For a while, in 2009 or 2010, they wanted to do credit ratings in the 780s and 790s. I think they have loosened up. If you have a credit rating in the 720s, it’s fairly simple to get a loan. But if it’s below that, then you’re going to have to put more money down, and it might be more difficult.
I think we’re in for many more years of this market in Houston, especially with the job growth we’re expecting, and frankly even the Super Bowl is going to be a driving force as we spend money to get ready for that and all the things that are going to happen with it. ExxonMobil is getting ready to complete their campus and preparing to move all those people from Virginia down to Houston. I think Houston is going to be very well-situated for the next five years or so.