7 Things You Should Know Before Buying or Selling a Home

Jan 8, 2024Courtney Morris
Realtor gives keys to new home

When Cathy Treviño held the keys to her first home, she also got the keys to her new career.

Fascinated with the home buying process, Treviño switched from teaching/coaching aspirations to real estate. Since completing San Jacinto College’s real estate program, she has worked in the field almost three decades. Today, she serves as board chair for the Houston Association of Realtors and a managing broker of Texas for LPT Realty.

“There are so many steps in the home buying and selling process,” Treviño said. “It’s our job to help walk you through it and make it the best experience possible.”

Looking to buy or sell a home? The San Jac alumna shares what you can expect:

Cathy Treviño, San Jacinto College real estate alumna
Cathy Treviño
1. What’s the current market like?

It’s been a seller’s market for a while. Now [with mortgage interest rates rising to 7.5%] we’re starting to see more of a balanced market. Buyers can ask for seller concessions or negotiate the asking price. Homes are staying on the market about 45 days rather than selling like hotcakes, so buyers have more choices — more inventory.

2. What should I look for in a real estate agent?

Hire someone that’s professional, attentive, understands the market, has good marketing strategies, and will communicate with you. Interview at least two to three agents. Not all agents are the same. When looking to buy, find an agent who knows the area, can explain the process from beginning to end, and answers the phone. Then it’s very important to sign a buyer’s representation agreement or a listing agreement [if selling] to ensure you’re both working together.

3. How do I determine what I can afford?

Get prequalified for a loan. Every buyer is different. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or teacher, there are programs you can qualify for. It’s our job to ask the right questions and connect you with a lender who can fit you with the right loan and program to meet your mortgage payment.

4. Can I still negotiate a good deal these days?

A lot depends on the seller. When a home is sitting on the market for a while — maybe because of age or needed upgrades — your agent is looking at comparables, seeing what has sold in the area. Has this home been priced accordingly? We give our best advice and can suggest creative financing options.

5. What's the timeline for buying a home?

Once you execute an offer, it takes about 30-45 days to close if you’re getting the lender all the documentation needed. A lot depends on the buyer, property, survey, appraisal, inspection, and more. You need an experienced agent who can walk you through the process. Full cash deals are quicker if everything is clear on the title. But the process takes about the same even if you’re paying a large amount of cash.

6. When selling, how can I make the biggest impact with least time and money?

There are many different programs out there. Some companies will repair your home, and you can pay at closing. We have connections to contractors, house cleaners, etc. You may not have the means, but we can connect you to the right program. Often, we’ll even stage a home ourselves. If it’s cluttered, I encourage clients to take things down — like family photos.

7. How do I show my home safely?

If anyone knocks on the door and asks to see your home, deny the showing. Point them back to a realtor. When we make appointments, we want to make sure the client is prequalified and accompanied by a realtor. They’re looking to purchase a home, not scoping out your possessions.

Learn more about San Jac’s real estate program. Or search for agents, homes, and communities at har.com (Houston Association of Realtors).

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