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 Gary Bisha, broker-owner of My Castle Realty.
Houston Agent (HA): One of the weeks most popular articles touches on the importance of self branding in real estate, being a referral-based business, and how fragile it really is. What do you do to ensure your brand remains strong?
Gary Bisha (GB): We have our own website and we have our own publication. Between that in our yard signs, we make sure to maintain a strong brand throughout the local market.
HA: Construction continues to increase in Houston, which should be good news considering the persistent high demand and low inventory. However, home prices are similarly rising, which, some say, is causing properties to be overvalued in the area. Do you agree, and if so, what do you think the long-term implications of continued building and increasing home prices? Could Houston be heading towards a second bubble?
GB: No and no. Houston’s market has certainly heated up and there’s been a shortage of homes, but I don’t see us heading towards a bubble. I see the market adjusting. Two months ago, you could put a house on the market and it’d be under contract up in a day or two. That still happens today, but only in certain portions of the market. It’s happening with homes that are move in ready and “wow” homes. Those that don’t fit that category are maybe taking one to two months to sell.
There are definitely a few signs that feel reminiscent of 2005 leading me to ask that question, but things are much different this time around. For one, Houston prices are still relatively inexpensive when you consider other price ranges around the country. Number two, Houston’s economy is still very strong, and as a result, people are still coming into the city.
Finally, the lending industry is completely different as it was in 2005. In the past it seemed like if you had a pulse, you could get approved for a loan. But today, standards are much tighter, which mean we’re catching a lot more problems before the go into the market than we were prior to the crisis.
In general, I don’t see the market over inflating, but rather adjusting. Some areas of town you have to ask yourself when prices are going to stop rising, but for the most part I think things will eventually even themselves out.
HA: A recent feature Houston Agent published, discusses the qualities necessary in a well-rounded agent. What do you think makes a well-rounded agent, and why?
GB: The obvious is being a people person – being able to get along with people, having empathy. But there’s also other things to it, as well. For instance, you need to be able to accept rejection, which we see a lot of in this industry. Every day we’re face with rejection, whether you’re working hard to land a new listing and some else gets it, or you’re a week away from closing a deal and things fall apart. It might not be anyone’s fault, it might be a financing issue, but those things happen, and when they do, agents need to be able to get back up and keep going.
Something I find particularly in new agents, is that they tend to take everything on and maybe don’t vet the clients as well as they should. They tend to set themselves up for a little bit more rejection.
Another must is being a multitasker. At even given time, we’re juggling a multitude of clients, each with a unique list of demands.
And finally, a well-rounded agent needs a good support system, and not just at the office, but at home, as well. We don’t work typical nine to five jobs. Being successful in real estate means you’re always at work, which can be touch on your personal life. We don’t get to take vacations like other people. Clients are making one of the biggest investments of their life, and when they have questions, you need to be available to answer them. You need to have a good team at work to help you close sales and handle the various needs of clients, and you also need a family that understands your schedule and supports you in your work.