Most of us think of real estate agents as those happy, perky, pushy people who show up on your doorstep, arms laden with graphs, charts, maps and other materials to help you sell your home. In reality, however, and especially in Houston, Texas, this is usually not the case. Real estate agents come in all shapes, sizes and personality types, and choosing the right one takes perseverance.
In Houston, there are far more houses on the market right now than there are buyers, and agents are chomping at the bit to list the houses that they have a chance at selling. Unfortunately, many of the houses that are less appealing fall to the back burner, and sellers have a hard time finding an agent to adequately represent them.
HAR.com is the Houston Association of Realtors Web site, and delivers not only listings of available houses, but also biographies for real estate agents in the area. You can search for Realtors based on pre-established criteria, then examine the homes they list for sale. The agents with the most listings are likely to be those who will work the hardest for you; in Houston, there are many agents who rarely work at all, some of whom have other jobs.
The goal is to find a real estate agent in Houston who will answer your phone calls, respond to prospective buyers, and keep your advertising material up-to-date. HAR.com is one of the best places to view real estate agents without actually picking up the phone, and can cut your search time by half.
Learn the Neighborhoods
If you are just moving to Houston, it’s a good idea to learn about the neighborhoods. For example, Mission Bend has deteriorated significantly over the last ten years, while Katy and Cypress have flourished. Sugarland continues to be a popular place to reside for young and eager corporate moguls, and most people live outside the city limits and commute every morning. Knowing the area will enable you to choose a real estate agent who knows what he or she is talking about.
Furthermore, once you’ve hired a real estate agent in Houston, you won’t have to waste time looking at houses in neighborhoods that you would never consider once educated. For instance, I would never move to a neighborhood on the north side of I-10 in west Houston because the traffic is daunting no matter the time of day, and restaurants are always packed.
Target the Large Companies
In some areas of the country, small real estate companies are the way to go because they focus on customer service and provide all clients with individual attention. In my experience, however, this isn’t the case in Houston, Texas. Instead, choose one of the big-name real estate agencies in the city, such as Re/Max, Century21 or Coldwell Banker United. They are typically more knowledgeable about available properties and have more agents to choose from.
Ask About Recent Sales
Because Houston is such a large city, there are thousands of real estate agents at your disposal. Unfortunately, many of them have failed to sell a house in the last decade, and still more have only sold one or two since they started their careers. If you want to find the best real estate agent in Houston, ask about recent sales—in other words, houses sold under their representation over the last three months.
As a final word, I want to encourage you not to settle for the first real estate agent you meet. Chances are, you’re going to run into a bunch of them as you search for the perfect home, and you don’t want to sell yourself short. Tune out the high-pressure sales pitches and concentrate instead on the facts. Is the agent able to represent you in a way that will leave you satisfied?