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Advice for relo buyers and sellers in a tight market

February 3, 2019 GMT

It has been widely reported that Houston is returning to a more stabilized market. And, while this is true of the market as a whole, there are various micro markets within the greater Houston area that are relatively tighter.

According to recent MLS statistics released by the Houston Association of Realtors, the Houston market closed out 2018 with 3.5 months of available inventory.

That is slightly higher than the balancing mark, which is considered to be three months of inventory.

Such statistics can be somewhat confusing for relocation buyers and sellers who might be transacting real estate in one of Houston’s more sought-after areas where inventory is lower, but demand remains high.

“A more stable market means that it is neither a buyer’s market nor a seller’s market,” said Ed Wolff, president of Beth Wolff Realtors Real Living. “The problem is that if a buyer wants a property in excellent condition, on a nice size lot, of a certain size or scale, in a location that is zoned to a specific school, or that is physically away from things that may impact it by sound or other factors, that it is still a very finite resource.”

Thus, it is unlikely that there will be an abundance of properties that meet a relocation buyer’s specified criteria within highly desirable areas.

“There might be 25 properties to look at, and of those, there may only be three that fit the buyer’s criteria, and only one of those might end up being the right property. And, when it’s the right property for one buyer, it’s very likely that it will be the right property for another buyer who is also in the market,” Wolff said.

For that reason, he added that it is important for relocation buyers to understand that a property that is in good condition, in a desirable location, and priced appropriately might have more than one buyer competing for the property.

In a city the size of Houston, the market is very localized, which can be broken down to a specific area or neighborhood, or it can even be as specific as a street or block.

In terms of the more sought-after areas, Wolff said that single-family homes inside Loop 610 are consistently popular for local buyers and relocation buyers alike.

When working with relocation buyers, Wolff emphasized the importance of building trust early in the process, so that his clients feel confident in his local market knowledge and expertise.

“We have to get to the point of trust, and the only way to do that is by educating the client on the location and the price, and then they will be prepared to make an offer that is appropriate and that will win the property for them,” said Wolff.

Marleah Rodriguez, a Realtor with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties, said that it is much the same with relocation sellers when it comes to pricing a property.

“I always advise relocation sellers to price their home at market price, because it will ultimately have a lower selling time and probably sell at the same price that it would if they priced it higher from the start,” Rodriguez said. “Because of their timeframe, which might be pretty short, I tell them that it will cost them money to wait for the market to catch up to them, or to wait for the buyer who finds their house to be the perfect fit.”

She added that there are currently several tight markets in the suburban areas of Houston, which is based on continued growth and demand in those areas.

“We are seeing a lot of demand and lower inventory in Cypress, Tomball, Atascocita, Pearland and Clear Lake. Anyone who is buying in any of our communities where there is a lot of relocation, which also includes The Woodlands, Spring, Champions, Katy and Sugar Land, are all seeing reduced inventory,” Rodriguez said.

When assisting a relocation buyer in one of those tighter areas, she said that it’s important for them to have the most up-to-date information about the market.

“Before a buyer makes an offer, I run a current market analysis, because they really don’t have room to negotiate in these areas, but they do need to know that they are getting value for the money. A current market analysis helps them feel comfortable about coming in and making a strong offer,” Rodriguez said.

Additionally, she said that people don’t realize that the market changes from month-to-month and from season-to-season.

So, relocation buyers really need to be able to consult with a local agent who can assist them with their home-buying decision.

Michelle Sandlin is an award-winning writer, journalist and global mobility industry expert. Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMichelleSandlin and on Twitter: @MichelleSandlin. Also visit “On the Move” at blog.chron.com/onthemove.