HOUSTON – (Realty News Report) The latest edition of The Ralph Bivins Project podcast features an interview with Cathy Treviño, the incoming chair of the Houston Association of Realtors who is also managing broker at the realty firm Side, Inc.
RALPH BIVINS: Welcome to the Ralph Bivins Project. We’re here with Cathy Treviño, the 2023 chair of the Houston Association of Realtors, one of the largest associations of Realtors in the world. She is also associated with a real estate firm called Side, Inc., where she the managing broker. One interesting fact I discovered about Cathy from reading her biography is that she has a black belt in Taekwondo. So, I don’t want to ask her any questions that are too nasty. I’m a little nervous about that.
CATHY TREVIÑO: (Laughing) Don’t worry about it. Thank you so much, Ralph, I really appreciate you having me here. I hope I can give some insight to all your viewers.
RALPH BIVINS: Well, Cathy, the new year, 2023, is here. How do you feel about the realty market as the new year arrives?
CATHY TREVIÑO: You know, I think right now, we are still seeing a continuation of what was happening during the last quarter of last year. There was a little bit of a slowdown in the market. A lot of things have been impacting our industry – and they still are. Inflation is an issue, and a lot of consumers are experiencing that, especially after the holidays. They are really feeling the pinch right now.
Typically, January is a slower month for real estate, not just because of inflation, but because it is right after the holiday season, and people have already spent way too much money. If they haven’t purchased a home already, they are kind of taking a little pause from that. Maybe they are filing their income tax or utilizing those funds to purchase something else. Our business is very cyclical – and typically, January is one of those months.
But there are other factors, too. Higher interest rates are having an impact on the market slowdown. It is putting a pinch on buyers’ purchasing power. The interest rates right now are the highest we’ve seen in years. And this follows a time when consumers were very comfortable with low interest rates.
RALPH BIVINS: Yes, we’ve seen the rates increase from 3 percent to nearly 7 percent. Quite a jump in a year.
CATHY TREVIÑO: Exactly. It’s doubling their mortgage payments and putting a pinch on their wallets. Consumers who don’t need to buy a home are kind of watching the market to see what it will do. Economists are saying that interest rates will be going lower, but I don’t think we’ll see them back in the 3 percent range again. They will probably settle around 6 percent. This is where they are predicted to be. I have watched a couple of economists – not just in the Houston area, but across the nation – to gauge the impact on rates.
RALPH BIVINS: There was a time, back in the 1980s, when people who bought homes had to deal with mortgage figures that were double what they are now. There was a time when 12 percent looked good. I’ve heard that every time the rates go up an eighth of a point, it knocks a million people off the list of those who can afford to buy a home..
CATHY TREVIÑO: And that is what we are seeing. Because of that, the rental market is increasing – and prices of rental units are also going up. For buyers who have put a pause on shopping around for a home or who say they can’t afford a home right now, they may decide just to rent – and watch what the home market does. A lot of buyers are looking at this option.
This is what we as an association are looking to do, to make sure we get this information to all our members, so they are aware of what is happening. This is a big part of what we do as an association, to keep our members aware of what is going on in the market.
RALPH BIVINS: If you go to the grocery store, you certainly know prices are up and inflation is up. Then, you watch the news and see that the Federal Reserve is trying to kill inflation by raising interest rates. After a while, you get tired of hearing it. You want to say “That’s enough. Let’s see how the rate increases impact the home market.” The Fed is going overboard with the rate hikes.
CATHY TREVIÑO: What I would say is this. Right now is a good time to buy a home. Buyers have a lot of opportunities. The market has been so hot for the past few years that it put a lot of potential buyers out of the purchasing pool. A lot of people from other states were selling their homes, acquiring the equity and moving to Texas because Texas is an affordable state. And, in particular, a lot of people were moving to Houston, an affordable city.
So, people who found this out were coming from all over the country and moving to places like Houston and Austin and all the great cities in Texas, bringing their equity and buying homes with cash. They looked at what they could purchase here in Texas and said, “Wow, I can buy a mansion.” This is when the home prices started to increase. We had multiple offers and people were buying homes above the asking price. That put a pinch on the locals, on the first-time home buyers. My son was in that situation like that a couple of years ago. He was about to get married and wanted to buy a home. He was up against the competition, and he couldn’t make an offer above the asking prices. We had to get creative and, eventually, we were able to find him a home and he is very happy with it.
These are the types of things that we, as Realtors, need to be aware of. There are lots of programs out there to help first-time home buyers, for teachers and firefighters. The main thing is, would-be buyers have to educate themselves about the programs that are available to them. They should go out and get a really good, professional Realtor that is local in your area and has the products and tools to help you get into a home.
I can say this. A lot of properties are available out there right now. Inventory is rising and competition is not that steep. Now is a good time to find some really good opportunities.
Cathy Treviño’s biography
Cathy Treviño is currently the managing broker in Texas for Side, Inc. She is also the incoming chair of the Houston Association of Realtors (HAR). With more than 23 years of experience in the residential real estate industry and 17 years of management experience, she is a recognized leader in the Houston area. She holds an active Texas Real Estate Broker’s License and has established designations as a Texas Realtor Leadership Professional, Certified International Property Specialist and Short Sale Foreclosure Specialist.
Jan. 21, 2023 Realty News Report Copyright 2023
THE RALPH BIVINS PROJECT PODCAST
File: Houston Realty Outlook: The Ralph Bivins Project Podcast with Cathy Treviño of HAR