On the move: HAR's 2018 chair discusses opportunities in the Houston market - Part 2
Published 2:29 pm, Thursday, January 11, 2018
Welcome back for more of my conversation with Kenya Burrell-VanWormer, who is the 2018 chair of the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR), and an affordable lending relationship manager for JPMorgan Chase.
In last week's column, Burrell-VanWormer discussed the many opportunities that await newcomers in the Houston real estate market, and the benefits of having an experienced Realtor who can guide them through the various neighborhoods and communities, as well as the real estate transaction.
Following are excerpts from our conversation:
MS: Do you expect to see an increased inventory of properties coming on the market now that the new year has begun?
KB: It really depends on where someone is looking to buy a home. In a hot market, or in an up-and-coming area, there might be more demand and less inventory. In an area where there is more inventory, there might be less demand. So, it really depends on the area.
MS: What is the best way for someone to find and qualify a Realtor if they don't already have one?
KB: The best place to start is on the site har.com. If you put in a few of your requirements, such as areas and schools, you will see different agents pop up who service those areas. For example, if I was looking for a home in the Upper Kirby area and filled in some of the other parameters of what I was looking for, agents who service that area or have recently had a transaction in that area will pop up. When those agents pop up, you are able to read their reviews and do more research about who those agents are. It links the agents to areas, which is very helpful, but you can also see how they are rated by the clients that they recently served.
Also, like anything else, referrals are always paramount. So, I would say that people should start with har.com, and then secondly, they should ask for referrals.
MS: People who move to Houston generally want to see several areas and neighborhoods before zeroing in on just one. At the same time, they expect to work with a Realtor who really knows those areas. Do they need to work with different agents if they are looking in vastly different areas of the city?
KB: My recommendation is to work with just one agent for your transaction. Realtors have a fiduciary responsibility to the clients that we work with. That means that we have a responsibility to be fair and honest to our clients, to look out for their best interest, and to ensure that they have a good experience. Client experience is very important, and it's easier to communicate with one person than with two. I think that there is loyalty when you have one person who is working with you on your behalf, and that it just makes it easier.
I do not recommend working with multiple agents, because they all have access to the same information. It's a matter of establishing a rapport and building a relationship of trust.
MS: Is there a message that you would like to impart to newcomers about the impact that Hurricane Harvey had on the Houston market?
KB: Because we came together as a community and were able to recover so quickly, I think that we kind of rebounded a bit in terms of our economy. What's interesting is that we are soon going to see an infusion in our economy, because there are many people who have insurance money and federal funds. So, we will see an infusion, and that's going to help sustain us and move us forward quickly.
MS: What advice do you have for newcomers who might be on the fence about whether to purchase or lease a property?
KB: This is still a good time to purchase a property. Interest rates are still low. Everybody needs a place to live, whether they are going to rent or purchase, and if you are going to purchase, there's never been a better time to buy.
MS: Why do you think that it's a great time to purchase a property in Houston?
KB: Houston is rebounding, and thankfully we have a diversified economy. We've had great job growth, and there's a correlation between job growth and housing. When you have a strong economy and people can buy, they will buy.
Michelle Sandlin is an award-winning writer, journalist and global mobility industry expert. Her work is frequently featured in Worldwide ERC's Mobility magazine, and in various business and industry related publications and corporate blogs. Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMichelleSandlin and on Twitter: @MichelleSandlin. Also visit "On the Move" at blog.chron.com/onthemove.