Every week, we ask a Houston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before. This week, we spoke with Russel Qamar, broker-owner of Kings and Queens Realty LLC.
Houston Agent (HA): We’ve noticed studies that suggest home sales have been a little soft at the start of 2014, compared to how they were a year ago. Are you seeing that in your local marketplace?
Russel Qamar (RQ): No, we’re actually seeing better results than last year. Part of it is just what the customers tell us. I deal with some investors that buy properties and rent them, and there just seems to be a large number of people moving into the area who need housing. They’re not all buying homes, but the investors are buying, and also, in the Katy area, there’s some bidding occurring on the south side of I-10, where sellers are actually getting a higher price than they asked for. The top reason people are moving to Katy is the area’s nationally recognized schools.
HA: We’ve also looked at average time on market and how long it takes for listings to sell. How quickly are your listings finding buyers after you put them on the marketplace?
RQ: Well, that’s sort of a difficult question, in the sense that there are two things that go into days on market; in my opinion, pricing the property properly takes precedence over market condition. Who is listing the property makes a huge difference, in terms of what they’re pricing it as. I’ve had pretty good luck with my listings; we’ve priced them at a price probably a bit lower than the market. What happens then is that people end up competing for it and drive the price up anyways. Clients will always ask to overprice it. I don’t acquiesce to that request; my job is to get them the best price. I explain to them that if the house is priced lower than it’s supposed to be, you’re going to have several people bidding on it in this area, because that’s what is happening. You’re probably going to end up with more than one person competing, so that scenario lends for you to get even a better price than market. If you price it higher, you’re sort of eliminating several people that might have been interested and might have come up to this price after they’re interested, but we’re not even giving them a chance to look at the house because we’re out of their price range.
HA: What are some of the approaches that you take when you are marketing your listings?
RQ: Selling our listings has not been difficult for us lately, but normally we will actually market the neighborhood strongly; we get the phone numbers for the neighborhood and call them to try and get some more listings or find buyers for a house. We haven’t had to do much of that lately, just because the market is pretty strong. Paid advertising or Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com all work in a limited way. To be honest with you, in my experience, advertisements don’t so much send you leads; I think most people have leads, but they need to know how to convert them into buyers. If they’re good at that, there are plenty of leads available without advertisement. If somebody is good at converting leads, the advertising will work great for them; if they’re not good at converting them, advertising won’t help. I’ve used advertisement before, when the market was slow.