Every week, we ask a Houston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before. This week, we talked to Amy Bernstein, the president of Bernstein Realty, a firm she founded in 1985.
Houston Agent (HA): A recent article talks about phrases that agents should avoid saying, like guaranteeing a buyer a certain house. What are a few things you’ve learned not to say to your clients?
Amy Bernstein (AB): The one thing that we never guarantee is future value. With the uncertainty of the market, you can’t guarantee a property is going to appreciate or depreciate in value. We also don’t say that a property will appraise, or talk about security, because an alarm is an intrusion alarm, not a security alarm. An alarm does not provide security.
HA: A new report from the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the AARP Foundation, released earlier this week, found that retiring baby boomers are finding it increasingly difficult to afford their homes. Have you noticed this trend, and if so, how has it affected your business?
AB: What I have found is that Baby Boomers are finding it harder to compete in the first-time homebuyer market, because people are common in with all-cash offers on account of the low inventory. Because Baby Boomers are mostly opting to finance their new homes, largely on account of low interest rates, they’re unable to compete and losing out to cash offers.
As a company, when we work with these Baby Boomer clients we are definitely warning them of what they’re likely to face, but at the same time, we’re working to structure our contracts so that the financing option is more appealing.
We’ve certainly lost sales due to cash and overall stronger offers, but nothing too dramatic.
HA: One of our recent features discussed importance of finding ways to save time and create efficiencies in business. What are some things you do to save time during the work day?
AB: This is a 24/7 business, and the only way to not get lost under the avalanche of work that may, at any time, befall you, it’s imperative that you stay on top of your emails, your phone calls and any other correspondence you may get, so that when an a house goes on the market or an offer comes in, you can get to work right away. When you have a buyer, no matter what you have going on, many times the buyer will take precedence. Unfortunately, since we can’t see the future, scheduling can sometimes be difficult, but when you have a client and they want to make an offer, you have to act quickly. If you wait even an extra day, often times the property will already be gone.
Thankfully, technological advancements in the industry have allowed us to save tons of time, particularly electronic signatures. We use the mobile app DocuSign, which can be used on your cell phone, your tablet or your laptop. It’s saved us a ton of time.