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 Leigh Marcus, a Realtor with RE/MAX Associates Northeast.
Houston Agent (HA): Reaching and maintaining top producer status in an increasingly competitive industry is tough, but you’ve managed to do it all the same. What advice would you give to new and struggle agents hoping to some day reach that level?
Leigh Marcus (LM): First and foremost, know who you clients are – understand them. Take the time to know their family, their pets, their economic needs, everything. The way to find out that information is to communicate, which is the second most important thing you can do. Real estate is a 24/7 business. If you want to come home after a day at the office and sit down with your family and have dinner, do it. But afterwards, go to your office, get on your computer and start answering emails and making phone calls. If you keep in constant contact throughout the buying or selling process, then by the end of it you’re more akin to their friend than you are their Realtor.
HA: Loan originations are down this year, and, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, by year’s end they’re expected to decrease by an additional 12 percent, coming as a result of tight lending and underwriting standards. Have you noticed this trend in Houston, and if so, how has it affected your business?
LM: Because market trends shift and fluctuate so frequently, what I tell my clients is that, at least in the state of Texas, we have what’s called “the good space estimate,” which requires lenders to give you good space. Unfortunately, not all banks do, so I always suggest that my clients get three quotes, at least one coming from a private mortgage broker, which tend to be more versatile when it comes to origination fees. With the multiple quotes, people know exactly what they’re coming to the table.
In terms of my business, dwindling loan originations haven’t really affected me that much, since I preemptively tell all my clients to get quotes and understand what kind of financing options they’re working with before we even begin.
HA: Fannie Mae’s recent National Housing Survey, which polls more than 1,000 Americans, found that a large portion of the population still look at the economy and the real estate industry as being in disrepair. When you encounter clients with a bleak outlook, how do you help them feel better about making their home purchase/or selling their home?
LM: Houston is very unique in the way that our local economy is largely driven by energy. As a result, we have have new people coming in and out of the city all the time. Sometimes it’s for good, other times it’s only for a few years before their company transfers them somewhere else. What this has done is created a huge surplus of demand, which our current level of inventory is struggling to satisfy. I have some move up homebuyers who just recently sold there house – this morning, in fact – and I already have six houses to show them. However, in the median price range they’re moving from, which is around $200,000 in Houston, there’s almost nothing available.
To be honest, I haven’t dealt with a lot of negative attitudes, because I’ve been so busy scrambling to find houses for all of my buyers. Houston is such a vibrant market and there’s so much development going on that I believe the market is only going to get better. I don’t want to sound unrealistically optimistic, because I know their are still hurdles in the market to overcome, but I’ve been working in the area for a longtime now – 18 years – and, in my experience, it’s only getting better.