First it's up, then it's down — the local real estate market can change fast, sometimes making it difficult to keep up. That's where a Realtor comes in. Whether you're buying or selling, they are your knowledge base and expert guide, and it pays to hire someone you can trust.
Realtors from Heritage Texas Properties, Boulevard Realty, Compass, and Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty recently weighed in on the current state of Houston real estate, offering up helpful tips about renovations, what to look for, and the best neighborhoods in which to buy.
Read on for their advice.
What are the best Houston neighborhoods to buy a house in, and why?
Marnie Greenwood, Compass: In my opinion, one safe bet in Houston real estate is a home zoned to highly ranked public schools. Even if a family is planning to send their children to private school, there is a desire to have a good back-up. Private schools in Houston have high demand without the capacity to accommodate the number of qualified candidates. I am also seeing a desire for simplicity. Kids walking and riding their bikes to school and playing with neighborhood school friends creates a nostalgic feeling and a sense of community. While there are several areas with excellent public school choices, a few of the neighborhoods that come to mind are those that I sell in regularly: Memorial, River Oaks, and West University.
What is the best marketing strategy for selling a home in Houston?
Alison Sewell, Heritage Texas Properties: Figuring out the best marketing strategy for a property is the most important part of any transaction. Similar to clients, each individual listing is unique. What works for marketing on one home can be completely different for another. To truly market a home well, you have to know who your potential buyer is and get creative on how to lure them in.
What should a realtor bring to the table to help me buy or sell my home?
Mike Spear, Martha Turner Sotheby's International Realty: A Realtor should have enthusiasm, dedication and consummate market knowledge. They do not hesitate to give references from previous customers and clients. They should be a recognized leader in residential real estate sales and a perennial name among Houston’s top producing agents.
Remember, the stock market is not the housing market.
Jim Ford, Boulevard Realty: Through a decade of stock market fluctuations, the housing economy has been steadily on the rise, so I wouldn't want anyone to delay or shy away from making real estate decisions just because of all of the volatility. We've always known that real estate is a much safer investment than the financial markets, but in the last few years — at the local level — we have seen many people cash out of the stock market and invest in homes instead. A lot of our millennial homebuyers are benefitting from that with down payment assistance from their baby boomer parents.
High-end home values have held strong in The Heights and nearby.
Melissa Kubala, Boulevard Realty: For both buyers and sellers, I think it is reassuring to see the generation of million-dollar-plus homes that were built here in The Heights (and neighboring Garden Oaks/Oak Forest) over the last decade continue to re-sell at strong prices. I think many thought the bubble would burst at some point. There is some nuance to this. What sells and re-sells best are traditional-style homes with modern amenities, while very big, very custom, or very architecturally unique homes may not sell so easily. That being said, we need diversity of price ranges and styles to have truly vibrant neighborhoods.
New construction still first choice for homebuyers, but renovated and updated homes are a close second.
Brandon Krueger, Boulevard Realty: I think this is a double-edged sword. We all love and want a new home, but there are only so many out there and they are typically more expensive. My advice to the average seller competing with new construction is to maintain well and update often so that your home ages well. My advice to buyers is to generally keep an open mind. A lot of extensive renovations really live like new construction, and focusing on finding a great home on the resale market often beats the stress and price associated with searching for that perfect new home and ending up in a bidding war.
Knowledge is power, so make sure you have a Realtor who can keep up.
Cynthia Mullins and Star Massing, Boulevard Realty: Houston real estate, especially inside the loop, is incredibly complex. From our historic neighborhoods to our floodplain management to the vast difference in the quality of construction and design, there is so much to keep track of! You simply have to make sure your Realtor is knowledgeable and resourceful. Buying or selling is too important to go with the cheapest or "salesiest" person — you want to make sure you are actually getting the best advice. Our partnership as Realtors is really about sharing knowledge and resources so that we can provide the best service to our clients.