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 Veronica Bruce, a Realtor at Unforgettable Lake Conroe. She has been back in the real estate business for a year. Prior to this, she worked in sales for Bombardier Flexjet, a fractional ownership program for business jets. She then worked for Prestige Properties, a boutique firm in Dallas focused on staging vacant homes to increase their appeal to prospective buyers. Bruce is fortunate to work with her mother, who is the broker for Unforgettable Lake Conroe.
Houston Agent (HA): What sorts of real estate search tools do you use? What sort of advantage do they give you?
Veronica Bruce (VB): We use the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR) website, HAR.com. We’re very fortunate to have that in Houston, because not only is it a great resource for agents, but also there’s a consumer site to that. Our clients are able to see what we are. When we have listings, we show them on syndication sites, such as Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com.
These sites let you know what other comparable properties in the neighborhood are going for, when they’ve been on the market, the cost in a particular neighborhood and additional neighborhood information.
HA: There is a very high demand for homes in Houston. Are you seeing a lot of homes go under contract in your area of Houston? Why do you think that is?
VB: Absolutely. Houston has a huge oil and gas business, which is a big draw for jobs for people, as well as world-class medical care. We’re about an hour north in Lake Conroe, and it’s like resort living: we have the lake and some of the best golf courses in the state. It is not uncommon for homes to go under contract, even before they officially hit the market or are listed in the MLS.
We’re also seeing lots of homes that are going for full price. My buyers don’t want to take a chance on missing out on a great home, so they’re willing to bypass the negotiation and make full price offers. We’ve seen that both on our listings as well as our representing buyers.
There is a shortage of inventory. I just read a study that said half of the largest-growing cities from 2011 to 2012 were in Texas. Houston was No. 2 in the nation. Lots of people are moving to Houston. It is good for jobs, and the cost of living is a lot less expensive, which means you can afford more housing here than in other parts of the U.S.
HA: What are the best ways you network with clients? What doesn’t work for you as well? Why?
VB: There is no specific formula. I know some Realtors don’t choose to continue to do open houses, but our brokerage does several open houses in a neighborhood, which suits visibility for our company as a whole on certain weekends. I also get a lot of business through word-of-mouth and referrals.
Pamphlets sent in the mail tend to go in the trash, so I would say that wouldn’t be as affective. Focus on your neighborhood and where you live and sell. That’s worked well for us. Anytime you can make personal contact with someone, that’s always the best way to network.