Real estate agents talk tips, trends, hot areas

Two neighboring Heights homes on Munford Street are among the recent listings for local real estate agent Ashley Day. (Photo by Adam Zuvanich)

With all the activity in the residential real estate market, The Leader wanted to talk to some local realtors about what they are seeing as well as what might happen in the months ahead.

Re/Max realtor Kristi Kolmetz said right now it is a seller’s market.

“We are seeing multiple offers, many well over asking (price), on properties that are under $1 million and priced correctly,” Kolmetz said.

Martha Turner Sotheby's Eileen Hartman said this March is shaping up to be her busiest in 25 years.

“A combination of low inventory and interest rates ticking up have put sellers in a wonderful position to sell,” she said.

Kolmetz added that buyers are having to get creative to win out.

“That can include higher earnest money, higher option money, waiving appraisal and financing contingencies (and) larger down payments,” she said.

Still, many aspiring homeowners remain disappointed.

“Most buyers go through numerous properties (and) offers and still end up not being ‘the chosen one’ that a seller chooses to go with,” Hartman said.

Led Well Realty’s Ginny Ledwell said the homes selling for top dollar are well-maintained and staged well.

“I have found that buyers today just don't have the same patience and time for the ‘elbow grease’ that homeowners used to,” Ledwell said. “Today's buyers want move-in ready and clean with a modern floorplan.”

She said offering a paint and/or floor allowance is not as effective as it used to be.

“You have to paint a better picture for buyers now and anything that looks like a project or repair can scare them off,” Ledwell said.

Compass’ Ashley Day added that pools have become a hot commodity and are sought after by buyers.

As far as the look inside the homes Day is showing?

“Mixed metals are in, fun backsplashes, color in the kitchen such as dark blue or green cabinets, and splashes of color and fun wallpaper,” she said.

Hot neighborhoods

Ledwell said the Heights and the Garden Oaks/Oak Forest areas remain sought after.

“Anything under $850,000 that has above 1,800 square feet, a decent floor plan and is move-in ready with a yard is flying off the shelves with multiple offers,” she said.

Several realtors mentioned a nearby market as particularly active.

“Katy has gone wild,” Amanda Cruser of Bernstein Realty said.

Added Hartman: “I’ve had a few listings in Katy – and that market is just as tight as the Heights. Multiple offers like we don’t see here in our neighborhood.”

But the housing values in the Heights still reign supreme.

“It offers so much, and those prices have increased to a new level I’ve never seen,” Hartman said.

Tips and trends

Cruser cautioned buyers to make sure they have enough time during their option period to get an inspection completed.

“Inspectors are very busy, and you may need more time than expected to schedule, complete and have a report in hand,” she said. “Seven days used to be enough time, but 10 is a safer bet for now.”

Ledwell advises sellers to put in the work to get their house ready. 

“If it doesn't show well, and your pictures are not professional-looking and don't tell the correct story for your home, you will leave money on the table,” she said. “Virtual tours really do help as well, even if it's your agent doing it from his/her phone.”

As for buying trends, Cruser has noticed an uncommon one.

“As the market started to recover after the first few months of lockdown, I’ve had more buyers looking for rural properties than ever before,” she said. “The septic inspector - who would be involved almost exclusively in rural property purchases - said this fall that he was the busiest he’d ever been in 20 years of business.”

Day added that she has seen a lot of interest in vacation homes.

“People are flocking to the Galveston, Austin, Florida and Colorado markets,” she said. “Places they can easily drive to but still get away.”

Day also offers some parting advice that may be obvious, but worth heeding – finding a seasoned and well-respected real estate agent to help you.

The Leader reader area has tons of fabulous agents and brokers -- please stay local,” she said.

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