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 Rick Raanes, a Realtor with Keller Williams.
Houston Agent (HA): According to the most recent U.S. Census data, houses are being built bigger. However, that’s not the case everywhere. Where is construction heading in Houston, and what are the drivers behind those trends?
Rick Raanes (RR): Interestingly enough, we’re seeing a lot of builders that are more focused on the sweet spot in regards to space. Builders are getting smarter with their square-footage, which includes the loss of the formal living replace for more gameroom-type areas. We’re seeing what I consider to be a flatline on square footage. Builders don’t want wasted space.
In the past, homes were typical four bedroom, two bath homes, but now builders are approaching homes with a bit more creativity.
I would say the builders are focusing on compact square footage and maximize the value of each square foot. We’re not seeing the megahomes we used to.
HA: As a real estate agent, you’re often burdened with round-the-clock schedules and a plethora of clients calling and emailing you with an equally diverse array of problems. In such a chaotic industry, how do you stay organized?
RR: We’ve adopted the “time blocking” method. We’ve designated days for closings, designated time slots for appointments. The biggest challenge we’ve face was really just trying to block my a day out accordingly. Now I have specific times for making phone calls, checking emails, etc., and now it’s become about staying focus within that specific time period.
Technology has also been a boon when it comes to organization. We’ve brought on a number of innovations to help streamline business, many of which provided automated systems that handle some of our client communications for us. When the exchange is of particular importance, we of course always make the contact directly, but in the between times, when we’re not working towards a closing but rather just letting our clients know that we’re still here and ready for them when the time comes, technology has been a huge service.
As far as personal times, my wife and I have been working to implement similar strategies, making sure to schedule specific times for date night and time with the kids.
HA: Technology can be a boon or a detriment to a real estate agent depending on how well they utilize it. How have you incorporated technology into your business?
RR: We believe technology is a major contributor to our success, especially considering the area. Customers, like us, are busy, they’re on schedules and they want to get ahold of information just as fast as we do. We’ve incorporated auto-drip email campaigns, auto-responses to specific questions and now we include videos to help promote our listings. One of our big undertakings is being proactive in regards to the questions our clients are likely to ask. I can look back at previous correspondences, anticipate the questions a client might ask and then begging to answer those questions prior to the conversation even taking place.
What we’re cultivating is an online network, through email, website functionality and video, that gives clients all the information they’ll need, so they never feel overwhelmed or out of the loop.