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 Realtor Cindy Burns of Martha Turner Properties in Houston. Burns chose to go into the real estate industry because of her strong business background – prior to being a Realtor, she was a financial analyst for Dun and Bradstreet. She has been in the realty industry for 13 years, and has sold everything from town homes in The Woodlands to horse ranches in Fort Wayne County to professional athletes. A native Texan, Cindy has lived in Houston for the last 50 years.
Houston Agent (HA): The Houston real estate community takes pride in having a great multiple listing service (MLS). What is it about the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR)’s MLS that makes it unique from other major cities?
Cindy Burns (CB): It’s very user-friendly, and provides so much information. There are some websites where anyone over the age of 50 is going to be totally lost – they need their children to help them navigate through the website. HAR’s MLS is not like that, and we have information in there that a lot of Realtor websites do not release to the general public. There are a lot of good people at HAR who make sure the MLS is as user-friendly as it is. There are a lot of different cities that come to Houston and are given tours of our website because it is so very successful.
HA: Do you see Houston’s housing market returning to its pre-recession level in the near future?
CB: Definitely. We are very fortunate that we were not hit as badly as other parts of the country. In 2008, when we were busy trying to find out who survived Hurricane Ike and who had power and water, the rest of the country was going through a global implosion in the financial market. We came out of Ike and had no idea this was occurring.
Thankfully, we did not suffer the same extent as the rest of the country did, only because we learned in the 1980s, when were were strictly fossil-fuel driven, we’re diversified. Houston has three of the largest law firms in the country, the Texas medical center (the largest employer in all of Harris County), so we did not take a huge hit in one particular area – it spread itself out. On top of it all, Houston is, and will continue to be for a long time, the No. 1 destination for relocation in the whole country. Corporate relocation comes to Houston more than any other city, because we don’t have a state income tax and we have so much room to grow.
It’s not like we’re landlocked and can’t build any more homes or subdivisions – we will always be able to service demand because we have the land. We’ve got an economically conduced area to make people want to come here, and we’ve got places to put them. We’re just going to continue getting stronger and better.
HA: Are you seeing an increase or decrease in housing inventory this month? Why do you think that is?
CB: The inventory is low, but it’s increasing a little bit at a time. I think sellers would be more apt to put their house on the market if they knew and were sure that they could have someplace to go. I’m sure we will get to that level soon, but for now, I think we just have to let the new construction catch up. That’s a very important part of Houston’s real estate market.
I predict that inventory will improve – I really think in the spring we’re going to see a healthier inventory level to be able to service the buyers who are out there looking for homes, which will then give the sellers the confidence to put their house on the market, because they then will have someplace to go to. It’s all very much the domino effect.