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 Ivan Arjona, a Realtor with RE/MAX The Woodlands & Spring.
Houston Agent (HA): Social media is starting to make a big impact in the real estate world, allowing agents to extend their audiences and generate leads without shelling out four-figure marketing budgets. What are your thoughts on using social media as an advertising medium, and if you’ve used it, what have you found to be effective?
Ivan Arjona (IA): To be honest, my wife, Talia, is much more inclined to social media than myself. I definitely have a Facebook profile and we’ve put some videos together in the past, and while I don’t hate it, I really haven’t in much use when it comes to generating leads.
Since the majority of my business comes via referral, I like to keep my marketing to a minimum. My favorite thing to do, which my clients have really responded to, is sending out a monthly email to let them know what they should be doing with their house with things like weather and trends, and giving them updates about the market.
HA: Home prices in Houston have been hurdling forwards on an upward trajectory over the last few months, and the response in Houston has been mixed as to whether this trend is good or not. Some argue that it’s the mark of a healthy market, others say we’re taking our first steps toward another bubble. However, according to the latest Case-Shiller Home Indices, Houston home price increases have actually slowed. Do you expect home price increases to continue slowing to a manageable rate, is Houston heading towards an overvalued market or do you think things in the area are already healthy and balanced? Why?
IA: As they are, the market feels pretty balance. Although, it wouldn’t hurt if prices rose just a little bit more. In my experience, Houston is still a fairly inexpensive market. You can get a great house with a nice backyard with a pool in the $500,000 – $600,000 range.
I do see prices continue to rise in some of the nicer areas of the city, but that’s simply because those areas are built out or almost built out and people still want to live there. Places like The Woodlands, where demand is really high, prices will definitely keep increasing.
And are we in danger of falling into another bubble? Yes. But I think builders are making sure not to saturate the market and buyers and sellers are a little bit more mindful, so I think we have a bit more time before we have to start seriously considering that.
HA: One of our most popular articles this week discusses the common expectations first-time homebuyers have of their real estate agents. In your experience, what are some effective practices when dealing with buyers new to the process?
IA: One thing new buyers need is an agent who knows the market well. When you have an agent who understand the ins and outs of not just the national market but the local market, they have the ability, and I experience this myself when I work with first-time buyers, to help clients understand what they want before they know it themselves.
Especially in a market like Houston, new buyers need guidance. If they come here and try to dive in by themselves, they’re going to run into some major hurdles and the results are often bad. Whether they’re buying a small home or a mansion, this is likely the biggest investment they’re ever going to make, so they need someone on their side who knows and understands the nuances of the area. And you can’t sugarcoat things. Let them know exactly what they should expect from the process, and always be honest.