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 Bridget Martin, a broker associate of Heritage Texas Properties in Royal Oaks. She has ranked as a Top Producer every year since being licensed and was recently awarded the distinguished “20 under 40 Rising Stars in Real Estate” award by the Houston Chronicle. Martin has earned numerous awards and has been recognized in the Top 1 percent of all Houston Association of Realtors (HAR). She sits on the Board for HAR NRG (NextGen Realtor Group) and has been awarded the CNS (Certified Neighborhood Specialist) designation
Martin is a native Houstonian and specializes in West Houston, Cypress, Spring/The Woodlands and the luxury market. Prior to joining Heritage Texas, she developed a real estate background as the managing editor of a luxury real estate publication.
Houston Agent (HA): There have been considerable improvements in the nation’s foreclosure market. Are there improvements in Houston’s foreclosure market as well?
Bridget Martin (BM): Absolutely! As of November, foreclosures currently make up only 7.5 percent of HAR’s MLS sales, which is down almost 20 percent from the beginning of this year. While we are seeing a decline in foreclosures, we are also seeing an increase in their median price by about 0.9 percent. Comparing this to last year (Oct. of 2012), foreclosure property sales reported in our MLS fell by 46.9 percent.
HA: In your area of Houston, is housing inventory on the rise, or are you still seeing declines? Why do you think that is?
BM: We are still seeing a decline in housing inventory right now. A lot of this is due to the holidays. Sellers do not to be inconvenienced with showings and trying to get everyone (including guests and pets) out of the house. They tend to want to slow down a little, relax and enjoy time with their family. Active listings for Oct. 2013 decreased by 16.5 percent from last year, and I expect that to continue into 2014. Builders are doing all they can to keep up, but it just isn’t enough.
HA: What sorts of characteristics are you noticing with today’s homebuyers?
BM: Today’s homebuyer is extremely conscious of price and the condition of the home. Most buyers are not trying to live beyond their means and max out their budgets. They don’t want to have to put a lot into a home in terms of updates or maintenance – they want something move-in ready. They are looking for open floor plans and multiple living areas (such as game room, study and media room).
Storage seems to be a huge concern as well, especially with our relocation buyers that are used to basements. They are very savvy with technology and utilize many apps, such as HAR, Zillow and Trulia. Today’s homebuyer is extremely educated and understands the market we are in; they realize they can’t wait to put in an offer and most likely will not be able to have a contingency on their home selling.