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 Tricia Gustafson, a Realtor at Champions Real Estate Group and property manager for Gustafson Investments.
Houston Agent (HA): A recent report revealed that Houston – and Texas as a whole – is continuing to work through their foreclosures, completing as many of them as quickly as possible. Are you noticing this drop in foreclosures, and in what ways has it benefitted your business?
Tricia Gustafson (TG): Foreclosures were a great way to make money as a Realtor a couple of years ago, but that market has been exhausted. I rarely work with buyers looking for foreclosures anymore because it’s too time consuming and rarely works out. By eliminating that portion of my business, it’s allowed me to focus on higher-end homes, which, of course, brings a high commission.
When foreclosures first started to flood the market, you could make a lot of money. Now, that market is gone and the foreclosures that do come on the market are gone immediately, and usually for list price or higher than that.
HA: One of our recent features touched on the importance of personal branding and staying relevant in your local market. What are some things you do to brand yourself in the Houston area?
TG: I’m very active in my community and the surrounding communities, but I focus my efforts on social media, including my business page Homes In Katy. I’m very active on my site. I spotlight homes for sale in Katy at least three times a week. I post new pictures, listings and additional information about the properties. I also have daily posts aimed at educating existing and potential clients on the real estate industry.
In my experience, having an active presence online has definitely been a boon to business. I’ll meet people out and about who’ll recognize me from my website and social media posts and I’ve never even met them, which is awesome!
HA: As a real estate agent, it’s important for your listings to look their best so as to garner as much attention from clients as possible. When preparing a property, what things do you do to maximize its selling potential?
TG: There are three important things I always have my sellers do to prepare their homes. First, the front lawn needs to be landscaped and well manicured. It needs to be neat and clean. That’s your curb appeal.
Secondly, the interior of the home needs to be painted, it needs to be done immediately. I suggest they use neutral colors, and if they’re unable to paint the entire house, I at least make sure they do the necessary touch ups.
Lastly, of course, the house needs to be clean and uncluttered. That is a definite must.
I don’t generally hire professional stagers, since most of these steps can be handled by the sellers themselves, but I do always hire a professional photographer to go into the house after its prepared and take photos and do a digital tour. Once its complete, I upload the pictures and tour to all of my social media pages and website.