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 Courtney Johnson Rose, Broker/Owner of George E. Johnson Properties in Houston. She specializes in residential and commercial real estate, and this is her 13th year in the business. Johnson Rose is the chair for the Houston Association of Realtors’ MLS Committee. In 2012, she received the distinction of being one of HAR’s Top 20 Under 40 Realtors in the Houston market and made the Houston Business Journal’s Top 40 Under 40 Business Leaders list. She also made the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Top 30 Under 30 Realtors list in 2007.
Houston Agent (HA): Do you use syndication sites such as Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com? Are they worth the investment?
Courtney Johnson Rose (CJR): For all of my listings from local MLSs, like HAR.com, I have pushed them out to Zillow, Trulia, the Texas Association of Realtors (TAR), Realtor.com and more. For the Houston market most of our leads come from the HAR.com site.
We use it more as a marketing tool for our sellers. Sellers like to see their homes everywhere, they like to Google their home and see it pop up. I have had sellers talking bad about Zillow’s “zestimates” – they hate it, it’s inaccurate, where does this number come from? This can be somewhat problematic. But for the most part, we feel like the more exposure you can get, the better. In our business and our sphere of Houston, we get most of the traffic from HAR.com.
HA: There is a high demand for homes and a shortage of inventory in Houston. Are you seeing a lot of homes go under contract in your area? Why do you think that is?
CJR: Yes. It’s been happening really fast. I would say starting around March 1 until now, it’s definitely a seller’s market. I’ve had maybe 15 listings, and of that, around half of them sell in the first week. Even a couple of them sell within the first day. So it is a busy, very fast-paced market. Even when we work with buyers, we have to be extremely aggressive, just in terms of getting them out on the market. And if the buyers like it, get the contract to them ASAP.
Houston is a really dynamic city. We have so many attributes to it. But the main thing I think is pushing this housing market is the Houston economy. We bring home jobs and it’s a great place for entrepreneurs, and it’s a great place culturally. I think that it brings a lot of relocation and immigration to this area, and because of it, it’s creating an actual housing shortage. With the housing shortage comes the hype in the real estate market, lack of inventory and all of those side effects.
I think is going to lead to an increase of actual prices because there’s an economic factor along with it. We have definitely noticed it, and are definitely are aware of it. But I really do think Houston’s economy is strong, and that it keeps it as a very desirable city.
HA: Reports show that buying is making more financial sense than renting. Based on your area’s real estate market, do you agree with this?
CJR: I definitely do. It is actually in most cases cheaper to buy than it is to rent. The rental market here in Houston is phenomenal because of the same reasons as I mentioned earlier, with all the relocation and immigration to Houston, which is driving rental prices up. It’s almost impossible to get a three-bed, two-bath house for your family for under $11-12 hundred thousand a month, but you may be able to buy something and achieve lower than the actual rental payment.
Plus, there’s a lot of tax advantages to home ownership from being able to write off your actual interest every year. I mentioned earlier that prices increased, that’s great for homeowners in the city that have locked in all the price purchase of property. Now as the market changes and prices increase, homeowners will actually be able to experience that financial gain from it.
Lastly, most children who grow up in single-family homes, rather than multi-family and apartment dwellings, tend to do better in school, so there’s some other social impacts that homeownership brings. Overall, we definitely see it being a tremendous benefit for several, several reasons.