Houston Agent (HA): How do you meet the needs of renters transitioning to homebuyers, especially those from out-of-town?
Billy Bishop (BB): Right now, it’s significantly cheaper to buy in Houston than it is to rent. If you can do a full 20 percent down payment, I think that’s the best route to take. A lot of lenders are doing programs where you can do small payments, whether it’s a 3.5 percent FHA loan, or a five percent conventional loan. I’ve even seen three percent conventional. There’s a lot of good programs for first-time homebuyers, and a lot of potential homebuyers are wondering “Why am I spending so much money in rent when I could be building equity in a home?”. I like the idea of renting, especially if you’re new to the city and you don’t know where you want to live. I think it’s key to have a one year lease in order to figure out what you want.
It’s hard with out-of-town clients because you don’t have face to face interaction. I’ve worked with relocation buyers and renters, as well as clients that are looking to move back to Houston. Those clients sometimes do a sight-unseen, which is one of the things that makes me more nervous from a realtor’s perspective. When I say sight-unseen, I mean seeing a home just through a video or Facetime showing. They’re not actually walking the home, but if they’re willing to do it, we have that option. For a first-time homebuyer, absolutely not, you need to walk through the house. For a second or third-time homebuyer that’s relocating here, it’s an option. I never want someone to buy a house without walking through it themselves, though. I’ve had clients who have had cold feet at the last minute doing that, but I’ve also had clients who have done it, flown in and have loved the house. It all depends on the client.
HA: What do you do differently when you’re working with high-end or luxury clients?
BB: I try to treat all of my clients like they’re buying a high-end purchase. I’m making the stops, I’m picking them up, I’m showing them around, and so forth. I’m very detailed when it comes to my offers, writing my contracts and putting in the necessary things. It’s a little bit different in how you frame your offers when you’re looking at a high-end offer, because anything under the $500,000 range, you’re competing with a lot more people. At the $1 million plus range, there’s not as many buyers looking in the current market. I think it’s key to have the initial offer be very detailed and what your client wants, and then go from there. Whether it’s wanting certain repairs, or wanting certain things done, you present that to them and you do an ongoing offer. You have more leverage when a home has been sitting on the market, which is a good thing, because a lot of those higher-end homes are sticking on the market longer than they have in the past few years. You have time to do your due diligence.
HA: What are some simple ways you keep in touch with past clients?
BB: I want to reach out in every way I can. I do a lot of email blasts, as well as a bulletin I send out every month. I also send mailers out via snail mail. It seems old school, but I get a lot of positive feedback when I send mailers out. It’s whatever I can to keep my name in front of them. I also do social media, Facebook, Instagram. There’s a lot of things that are posted on social media, so if you keep your posts regular but not excessive, you’ll get more likes and more people will share your posts to their walls and feeds. It’s all about how to get your name into your clients’ minds.