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 Ford Bazar, a Realtor with and owner of Ford Realty.
Houston Agent (HA): Earlier this week, we reported that Zillow will acquire Trulia for around $3.5 billion. If the deal closes, which it’s currently set to next year, what impact do you think it would have on the industry, if any?
Ford Bazar (FB): I think it will have very little effect on the industry. My experience with Trulia and Zillow is that their listings tend to be inaccurate, and many of the calls I’ve received from those sites have been very flaky clients. I’ve even run into a few scams on both Trulia and Zillow. Just recently, I’ve had vacant homes that I’m leasing be listed on the sites as for sale. The asking prices attached to the properties are always really low, and when clients call the dummy numbers the houses are listed with, the mystery listing agent will tell them, “We can get you that home, all you need to do is send over the down payment.” These are my listings, and still someone is able to put them on those websites. This has happened four or five times already.
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HA: With the vast majority of homebuyers beginning their search online, having an active Web presence is crucial to being successful in real estate. What do you do to stand out online?
FB: To be honest, I have a website, and we keep a link our MLS listings, but mostly I work through referral, and I work hard. I’m in the office at 6am, and I’m giving 110 percent all day.
Everybody wants to work very little and make a lot, but they’re confused. The more you work, the more you make. A lot of agents are trying to substitute technology for work, but if’s such a good substitute, why don’t we all go home at noon? Seriously, people have become addicted to their cell phones and computers, and they’re not addicted in the right way, so they end up forming bad work habits. Most agents who fail do so because they have bad work habits, and they’ve probably had similar license in the past. Getting a real estate license isn’t going to change your life. You need to work.
A lot of younger agents who come in think real estate is an easy way to make a lot, and it’s just not. I was an athlete in high school, played three sports in college, even majored in coaching, and my attitude is: You don’t give 100 percent, you give 110 percent.
I get referrals because I give my customers the best deal. Competition is what made this country great, and I want be the best agent out there. My mother owned a successful dress shop for many years, and she told me that it doesn’t take rocket science to succeed in business. All you have to do is treat people like you want to be treated. If you were shopping for a home, wouldn’t you like the best deal possible?
HA: A recent analysis from Goldman Sachs pointed out that mortgage lending standards are still much tighter than the normal, pre-crisis levels. Have tighter lending standards effected your business, and if so, how?
FB: Recently, I have experience a couple of appraisal problems due to the pace of rising home sales prices. It’s common for me on my listings to get any where from four to nine contracts within the first week, at which point I’ll sort through them and determine the best offer. Generally, they’ll sale over list price, and then the real kicker will be that it’s an all cash deal, which will put a home up from $180,000 to $200,000, which one of my properties just did. The appraisal of the home jumped 10 percent overnight.
What happens now, though, is there’s a shortage of homes, and a lot of appraisers have having trouble making value – or maybe it’s just this one particular guy I’ve worked with in the past.
As far as loans go, I haven’t really seen any problems with my buyers getting approved. In fact, lenders seem to be a little more lenient, as far as credit scores go. The rates haven’t gone up either.