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 Janet Escobar, a Realtor with RE/MAX Westside in Houston who specializes in the West Houston, Katy, Memorial, Inner loop, Galleria and the Medical Center markets. A full-time Realtor since 1980, Janet has been a member of the “100%” club since 1998, and has been awarded the “Good Guy Award” and the “Individual Sales Leader” award.
Houston Agent (HA): It’s important for agents to show clients how much they care about them. What are some ways that agents can do that?
Janet Escobar (JE): I can only speak for myself, but the first thing I do is sit down with my clients and make sure I understand what they want in a home. I take notes and have them fill out a questionnaire about what they want and don’t want in a home. I explain to them that I’ll stay as close to that criteria as possible, and if that criteria ever changes, they have to let me know.
I’m also diligent about doing my research, and making sure that I find a home that best suits what they’re looking for. And then, I go through the whole process with them. I’ve worked with quite a few first-time homebuyers. Of course, you work with people who have bought homes before who do not need as much explanation, but I always make sure that they understand the following: the paperwork that they are signing; the whole process behind making an offer; and that we’ll have inspections done, and how important those are and how they’ll work.
Basically, I keep in contact with them, so they never feel that they’re being pushed aside. I’m also very flexible. If they call me, and there’s a home that they want to see, I will make every effort to adjust my schedule for them; I never want my schedule to be the reason they don’t get the home they want, and in this market in particular, you really have to be on call if a home comes on the market.
HA: What markets seem to be garnering the most attention from clients?
JE: Inside the Loop is a nightmare. If you want a house in that market, you’ve got to be the first in the door and the first in with a contract –even then, though, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get the house; many agents today are waiting four, five days before they give an answer on an offer, because they’re gathering contracts. West Houston, including Katy, is also very hot.
HA: Do you find that lending is still tricky to navigate for your clients?
JE: I’ve never really ran into those problems. I understand that some are encountering problems, but I do think that banks have lightened up a bit on some of the guidelines. I’ve been very fortunate, and haven’t had any clients who were turned down for loans or had problems getting loans.
In fact, in my experience, buyers are being more conservative now than they have to be. A mortgage company may say that they can afford a home as much as $300,000, but the buyer does not want to spend that much, and instead buys something at $175,000. I think people want to do more with their lives than be slaves to a mortgage.