Episode 5 – Listen Up Homebuyers in Houston Texas
This is Listen up Home Buyers. The only podcast offering Home Buying advice and tips from true buyer agents and now here’s your host, Victoria Ray Henderson.
Victoria Ray Henderson 00:10
My next guest for Listen up Home Buyers join the Brokerage [check] HelpUBuyAmerica in 2016. He holds a master’s degree in Finance from Tulane University and has 12 years’ experience as an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent. He serves Home Buyers in the Houston area. Welcome, Ramzey Khourey.
Ramzey Khoury 00:29
Thank you, Victoria. Thank you for having me.
Victoria Ray Henderson 00:32
I’m so excited to hear about how things are going for you in the Houston area. So can you get us started with an overview of what you see the market conditions are in Houston? We’re talking September 2019 and coming into the fall.
Ramzey Khoury 00:46
Great question. This summer has been very hot, usually in the summer months starting around May coming in from different states, depending on what the needs are. But I see a lot of movement coming in and out where the market gets very hot. So in Houston, you see seasonal changes where it becomes a seller’s market between May and August and that’s where it gets very challenging, more interesting for me to help buyers stay within the limitations of not overpaying for a house.
Victoria Ray Henderson 01:22
Yes and I want to touch more on that. But for people who are not familiar with the Houston area, it has a large metropolitan kind of a sprawl to it, doesn’t it? Could you give us a picture of what Houston is like?
Ramzey Khoury 01:37
We have a center that starts with downtown where we call it a loop that reforms around the downtown area, and it emerges from there. So you see houses value increase when it comes from the center outwards. So, Houston is as mainly a metropolitan city, but then you have all the suburbs that are connecting with it from each corner. The great thing about Houston is all these suburbs connect to the center.
Victoria Ray Henderson 02:07
In general, how large of an area are we talking about that you actually serve Home Buyers?
Ramzey Khoury 02:12
Oh, I go from the center all the way to the Woodlands, all the way South to Pearland.
Victoria Ray Henderson 02:19
So mileage wise, are you covering like an hour’s distance from downtown?
Ramzey Khoury 02:24
Correct. It’s about an hour South – an hour North?
Victoria Ray Henderson 02:28
Yes. You know, I’m based in the Washington DC area and if you’ve been up here, you know that we cover we’re licensed in three areas. Virginia, Maryland and DC because we’re so tight and close together but that’s about how far we go. We go about an hour’s out from the district from the Washington Dc Downtown. Considering the rush hour traffic, most people who are going to be working right in DC don’t want to have to go much farther than that. I’m guessing is your rush hour. Pretty tough to.
Ramzey Khoury 02:58
That is correct. That’s because we have universities that are in the center. We have the museum district, we have medical center, the heights district, we call it the greater heights because it’s dense on top compared to the rest of the Houston.
Victoria Ray Henderson 03:15
Oh, it’s higher up. You mean?
Ramzey Khoury 03:17
Victoria Ray Henderson 03:18
OK, got you.
Ramzey Khoury 03:19
Because of the districts, a lot of the traffic comes in from the suburbs towards these since we have a medical district, the school district and the museum district. There’s a lot of inward traffic.
Victoria Ray Henderson 03:32
When you’re working with Home Buyers. That is of course a factor because it is in any of these metropolitan areas. You know, I’ve interviewed people now from Boston and Spokane, Washington, it becomes a quality of life issue. Tell me a little bit about how you counsel them.
Ramzey Khoury 03:48
Actually I have different clients, I have clients who would like to live in the city where they like the action, like I said, there’s a museum district there. So I have clients who love art. So they like living in that area, because they like to go to the museums as much as they want to without actually facing traffic. A lot of my clients like the suburbs, because they’d like more bang for their buck and they like the space.
Victoria Ray Henderson 04:12
If somebody lives out in the suburbs, and they don’t have to go into the city for work, that’s kind of a win-win for them
Ramzey Khoury 04:18
That is correct, especially people working from home.
Victoria Ray Henderson 04:20
Walk me through when you sit down with one of the clients who might come to you with like a clean slate. You know, maybe they do have to commute into the city. What are you telling them about Houston and about the Home Buying process?
Ramzey Khoury 04:34
Houston is fast growing market for the past four years. I’ve had clients from New York, from California come in. It’s because of the cost of living here is better than many other states. We’re actually a rich city, we have culture, we have food, we have diversity, all the art, the nightlife, which attracts a lot of people from different states.
Victoria Ray Henderson 05:00
And you’re not too far from the water, which is beautiful along the coast there.
Ramzey Khoury 05:03
That is correct. The new construction growth is going on, we’re actually utilizing a lot of land and buildings. So many of my clients actually bought newer homes.
Victoria Ray Henderson 05:13
So, when you’re dealing with new construction, did they allow you to go in and, and do things like the pre drywall inspection, are they are they friendly with you around or is it a little more difficult to work in that situation?
Ramzey Khoury 05:25
Actually, some of the builders are very friendly, they allow us to respect the process from the beginning to the end, I of course, always, since I focus on quality, I always recommend my Inspector, to my clients to go in at every phase of the bill.
Victoria Ray Henderson 05:43
And all through that process, you’re dealing with the subcontractors. So that is a good place to check.
Ramzey Khoury 05:48
Correct. I’ve seen some horror swear, I’ve seen actually trashing inside the wall, I’ve seen where the wood was cracking or breaking on some parts.
Victoria Ray Henderson 05:59
Oh, you were able to catch it because you had that pre drywall inspection.
Ramzey Khoury 06:03
That is correct. This way you can catch any, any issues before the house gets finished. So that’s the great thing about new construction is you can start from the beginning till the end and you know, the house inside the map, I make sure to since, I’ve done a lot of renovations, I actually do my own inspection with my client, right before we even get an inspector
Victoria Ray Henderson 06:26
That’s great, because you know, obviously you’re not a home inspector but you’ve done it enough where you can go in and at least know where the red flags are. So when you have that, home inspection is not a surprise,
Ramzey Khoury 06:36
Correct. Of course, the great thing about me being on their side is I make sure that they get the option period with new construction, the seller gets their own contracts.
Victoria Ray Henderson 06:45
Ramzey Khoury 06:46
And I’ve seen a lot of them do not have option periods, I have to negotiate that to make sure that we are protected and the due diligence period is good for us. So if we find anything that is a red flag, we can exit with no problems.
Victoria Ray Henderson 07:02
Tell me about those options for people who don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re referring to Home Inspection contingencies and what other contingencies?
Ramzey Khoury 07:12
The option period is for home inspection contingency and in Houston, it’s for flooding contingency. Of course, I always check the flood map to make sure that if it’s in a flood zone or not, and then for my client, the flood zone meaning the one, the 100 year.
Victoria Ray Henderson 07:29
Yes, because that will increase their homeowners insurance.
Ramzey Khoury 07:32
So that’s where that due diligence period is, where connect with an insurance company to see if it’s insurable.
Victoria Ray Henderson 07:40
Oh, that’s an excellent point and have you found properties where your clients will maybe fall in love with something and then find out that it’s not insurable?
Ramzey Khoury 07:49
Well, luckily, I’ve avoided that by just looking at the flood map, they updated the flood map after Harvey, I informed my client, Ok, this isn’t a flood zone. If you want to buy here, we would, of course need to make sure that it’s insurable and we need to know what the costs are, we need to know if we need to get an elevation certificate. Now an elevation certificate is like a survey. It’s just another form of certificate that describes how high the house is from the ground to see if it’s acceptable or [inaudible 08:20]
Victoria Ray Henderson 08:21
Huge difference in whether or not somebody is going to move ahead with a property for sure. I talked to your broker last week, and she informs me that you are very successful at what you do in the Houston area and what you do is you specifically help homebuyers, what do you attribute that success to?
Ramzey Khoury 08:37
Great question. Thank you, Victoria. So the great thing about us is we are an exclusive buyer’s agents. So we focus on only the buyer, we help people mainly finding their dream home and I’ve been living here for about 22 years, I’ve been in the real estate business for 12 years, I’ve enjoyed every aspect of it. I have been exploring and analyzing Houston for so long and I help my clients find what they’re looking for. So when someone comes in and says, I want to be away from the city, but I want these amenities, or I want– I like this school district and we go there. So what we do is we analyze their needs, and we give them the locations that suit their needs based on market analysis demand, and of course, I always aspire for them to have their house grow in value over time.
Victoria Ray Henderson 09:37
You mentioned several things, you know, right off the bat analyzing your buyers needs. This is a listening process and you’re flushing out your understanding what they’re looking for and what they want because I guess you know the area so well, your understanding where they would end up making the biggest purchase that they’re going to make likely in a lifetime until they do it the next time. So that right there, if you break it down, it’s quite a process. I mean, you have to be listening and attuned to what your client is saying pretty much the whole time you’re looking at houses.
Ramzey Khoury 10:09
That is correct. You have to pay attention, be very responsive to all your client’s needs. I always encourage them to ask as many questions as they come. This way I can study what their needs are and what they’re looking for, and what fits their personalities and what fits their outlook. I don’t look at my clients as a numbers game, I look at them as friends that I’m looking out for. Once you know their personalities, once you get to know them, you know what they’re looking for?
Victoria Ray Henderson 10:41
Yes and it sounds like you’re in this pretty much for the same reason I am and that is that you want to help people and you want to help them. My husband and I bought our house through the company that I work for now Buyers Edge and I just remember the process being really terrific and I was a new new homebuyer. I mean, I didn’t know about anything. This was you know, 25 years ago and I really appreciated the fact that someone was looking out for my best interest and really advocating for me through the whole process. It didn’t have any kind of hidden agenda and that was really, really important to me
Ramzey Khoury 11:18
Yes, that’s what makes our job great. We hold your hand through the whole process of fed homebuyers. They never knew about the process. So, most new homebuyers do not. So what I do is I educate them on the whole process, I make it as smooth as possible for them try to mitigate the risk and good news is I have a great team that works with me when it comes to the lender, the inspector to help through the process. When we go through an inspection period, my inspector is quick to respond to my client’s needs answer any questions that we have concerning any issues or red flags, we may find in a house and my lenders that I recommend are always on top of their game. They’re very responsive. But I’ve noticed that mostly people need as someone who’s very quick to respond and attend to their needs.
Victoria Ray Henderson 12:12
Yes, as long as you’re listening and communicating quickly and effectively, I can hear that is the key to the success.
Ramzey Khoury 12:21
That is great, you have to hold their hands from the beginning, all the way till closing, even after closing that I’m here to help if anything comes up, I’m going to help them the process doesn’t stop when the house is closed, and I get my check. No, that’s not how it goes.
Victoria Ray Henderson 12:38
And it makes for satisfying work. I mean, at the end of the day, we all want to enjoy what we’re doing for a living and feel like we’re contributing and helping
Ramzey Khoury 12:46
Correct. Yes, it feels great. When I get the very positive feedback from all my clients, I have knock on wood, I never had any issues, I always make sure that we are following the procedures correctly, we are mitigating the risks and making sure they get what they’re looking for.
Victoria Ray Henderson 13:03
Managing all of that before it becomes an issue and that’s a huge part of the job.
Ramzey Khoury 13:08
It’s very essential to have a realtor on your side when you’re in the buying process and the good news is we don’t cost money. It’s free for our buyers.
Victoria Ray Henderson 13:18
Explain that a little bit, so people understand what you mean.
Ramzey Khoury 13:21
We are in a cooperative commission, a commission split with the sellers’ agent. So meaning that the seller handles commission while the buyers do not. So like I said, it’s very essential to have realtor on your side because we negotiate the price down for you as much as we can. We help through the process, we make sure to avoid any risky situations, I’ve had situations we prevented where the price was much higher than my comparative analysis, can only offer that much we can go over. I want to make sure that you do not overpay because the lender, they do not go over what the appraisal may come.
Victoria Ray Henderson 14:04
That’s right and so if it’s priced too high, it’s not going to work out for your buyer or for the seller, if you’ve got that appraisal contingency in
Ramzey Khoury 14:12
That’s correct. The great thing about the buyers’ realtor also is that we make sure the contract is on my buyer site. We have contingencies that protect us when it comes to survey when it comes to the appraisal contingency when it doesn’t come in what we want it to pay. We have a financing contingency meaning that if for some reason something happens where the lender cannot approve the loan, you can still exit and get your earnest money back. So that’s another good thing about us is we make sure the contract is protecting the buyer.
Victoria Ray Henderson 14:45
All these things because you’re advocating for that buyer when they’re making this huge purchase.
Ramzey Khoury 14:50
My job is to mitigate the risk away from them, as much as possible.
Victoria Ray Henderson 14:54
Ramzey Khoury is an Exclusive Buyer’s Agent with HelpUBuyAmerica in Houston, Texas. He holds a master’s degree in finance from Tulane University and has 12 years’ experience helping Home Buyers in the Houston area. Ramzey, thank you so much for joining me.
Ramzey Khoury 15:10
Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.
You’ve been listening to Listen Up Home Buyers. The only podcast offering Home Buying advice and tips from true buyer agents.