Who is Steps Realty?

Many of you already know me and my wife pretty well.  For those of you who do not know us let me tell you we are awesome. I have been a real estate agent/broker for 10 years and my wife, Rachael, has been in the title business for 10 years.  Our clients have repeatedly referred us over the years using the following verbiage: “You have to use Chris/Rachael.  They are awesome!”  So, I am not just throwing around the word “awesome” loosely.  We have people to back that up.  In January, we decided that it would be awesome to open up our own Real Estate company together.

I tell it like it is so let me tell you what we have learned so far.  We have learned more about our marriage and how to communicate with one another.  We know why every HGTV show goes over on their rehab estimate.  We have learned what it feels like when the HGTV show family sees the big reveal and struggles to hold back tears of joy.  We have learned what it is like to be a proud business owner. 

We have learned what it is like to be a stressed out business owner.  We learned that all of this has been possible because of the tremendous support we have received from our family, friends, and clients. And we have learned all of this and more in the last year.  We are in complete awe of how many emotions, accomplishments, and acts of support we have encountered.  So I can truly say this experience has been awesome.

Why Use Steps Realty?

Aside from being awesome we take pride in what we do.  We value our knowledge in the real estate industry along with our dedication to constant communication. When working with buyers we strive to find them the RIGHT home.  And through expert negotiations we get sellers the most without jeopardizing days on the market. Because of these traits and values we receive 85% of our business from referrals. We also have special money saving programs for teachers, police officers, fire fighters, nurses, and military.

We hope you feel comfortable referring your friends, relatives, and peers to Steps Realty.  They will be in good hands as we take them to the next step.


 Must Be Nice!

I hear this saying a lot.  Whether it is when a client sees the commission on the HUD-1 or someone sees a picture of me golfing on a random Tuesday on Facebook, the phrase “Must Be Nice” is common for Realtors.  There are perks to being in Real Estate, but just like any job there are also plenty of  reasons to complain. Do not get me wrong, Real Estate has been very kind to me and my family, but it has also been hard work and at times extremely stressful.  This is not an article to defend or ask for sympathy, it is simply a look at the “Not So Nice” side of being in the Real Estate Industry.

You Want to See Homes When??? Why can Realtors play golf on a random Tuesday?  Because most people are at work on Tuesdays.  Most of our clients want to see homes after work or on weekends.  So although it is nice to be able to swing the clubs in the middle of the week, it means that the evenings and weekends can get full with appointments.  This is not too terribly bad for me.  My first job out of college was with the San Antonio Spurs.  I would arrive at work at 8:30am, work all day, eat dinner at the arena, and then work the home Spurs games.  Sometimes I would not get home until 1am in the morning.  So showing homes till 7pm or for a few hours on Saturday probably sits well with me more than it does with others.

Easy Money!!! Along with “Must Be Nice” I have heard the term “Easy Money” associated with Real Estate.  Are there easy transactions?  Yes.  Can commission checks exceed $10,000?  Yes they can.  Is it easy money?  NO!  There are a few deals that run smoothly, but the majority of transactions require a great bit of problem solving.  Any Realtor can handle a smooth transaction, but as soon as the deal gets tough is when you need a GREAT Realtor.  Showing homes is absolutely fun.  I love finding my clients the right home.  Once we find the home is where a Realtor’s job really begins.  It is our job to negotiate the best deal possible or sometimes make sure our clients don’t lose out on a home being bid on by multiple buyers.  After a home is under contract there are countless emails, texts, and phone calls between the Realtors, lender, title company, and buyers and sellers. Many of these lines of communication are to expedite and solve hiccups throughout the process.  At the end of the entire transaction the commission is proudly displayed on the HUD-1.  When a clients says, “Wow.  You did good on my home. Easy money.”  I respond with, if you think it was an easy transaction then I did my job as a GREAT Realtor.

The Average Realtor Makes How Much??? There is a huge misconception that everyone in Real Estate is banking.  Although there are tons of conflicting numbers on what the average Realtor makes almost all of the studies are well below $50,000 with most first year agents making less than $20,000.  So although, a $7000 commission check may look great, if that is the only closing for 3 months that $7000 doesn’t go too far.  With that said, GREAT Realtors can make way more than an average Realtor.  Make sure you are being represented by a GREAT Realtor.

It has been absolutely NICE to be your Realtor.


Buyers or Sellers:  Guess who owns the market this time?

For the past few years this has been an easy question to answer:  BUYERS! Almost every market had way too much inventory.  When inventory is too high Buyers have too many options which makes it difficult for Sellers to get top dollar.  In San Antonio, New Braunfels, and especially Austin the inventory problem has shifted. It has been a wild ride for Realtors and Buyers scrambling to get offers in on properties that have been listed for less than 24 hours.  It has been almost 10 years since there has been this level of competition for properties.  So does that mean it is a Seller’s market?  Would it be too political if I said it was both a Buyer’s and Seller’s Market?  Before you get on me for not taking a hard line stance let me defend both sides.

Why is it a Seller’s Market? I touched on this already but typically a Seller’s Market is determined by simple economics: Supply and Demand.  If there are a large number of Buyers and a low number of Sellers then there is a plethora of competition for the homes that are available.  Therefore Seller’s can command top dollar for their homes. What I see happen in many cases is a short term definitive Seller’s Market.  When a Seller’s Market first begins it is truly crazy.  A home owner can put a subpar home on the market and get an above par price because there is so little to choose from.  After that short run, word gets out and all of the homeowners that were on the fence decide to list their home for sale.  What does this do?  It puts more inventory on the market causing the supply to go up and demand to go down a bit.  The good properties still go quick but the subpar properties will sit or sell at a more reasonable price.

Why is it a Buyer’s Market? In order for it to be a Seller’s Market there has to be a large number of Buyer’s, right?  And why would there be a large number of Buyer’s?  One major reason is interest rates.  When interest rates are low it is easier for Buyer’s to afford more home.  When I first got in the business 10 years ago we would use the 1% rule.  If you are buying a $200,000 home your PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance) payment would be $2,000 a month.  Today a Buyer can purchase a $200,000 home and have a $1500 or less PITI payment.  The ability to buy more home because of low rates makes it a Buyer’s Market.  Even though inventory is low and homes are aggressively priced, a Buyer is still able to get a huge bang for the buck because of historically low rates.

What’s the Final Answer? You can have a Buyer’s Market without it being a Seller’s Market, but it is very hard to have a Seller’s Market without Buyer’s having an incentive to purchase.  Low rates make it appealing for Buyer’s and low inventory make it appealing for Seller’s.  If you are going to make me choose I would say under $250,000 is definitely a Seller’s Market. 

Overcoming The Word NO!

I Think the Answer is No, but I am Going to Ask Just in Case?

Do you like hearing the word “No”?  I didn’t think so.  Neither do I.  I pride myself on being an expert negotiator and I hear “Yes” very frequently, but in Real Estate there are numerous opportunities to hear the word “No!”  Here are the  Top 3 Questions I receive from buyers where they believe the answer is NO but it is really YES! Next time we will look at the Top 3

Seller Questions.
1. Can we ask the seller to leave the (Insert object that obviously doesn’t stay with the home like a sofa, lawn mower or Tommy Gun)?  That last example is not a joke.  I once negotiated a Tommy Gun into a contract...only in Texas, right?  Actually, ask­ing for items to stay with a home is so common we have a separate form for it called Non-Realty Items.  Although a Tommy Gun is not a common item you can pretty much ask for anything to stay.  Refrigerator, lawn equipment, furniture, washer and dryer, and other common household products are the most popular items buyers request but I have seen anything from ATVs to art pieces. 

2. Can we ask the seller to pay for our (buyer) closing costs?  This one may not be quite as big a misconception because many repeat buyers know this is acceptable. But most first time homebuyers do not know they can ask sellers to cover a portion or all of their closings costs.  So the short answer is YES!, but there are some stipu­lations.  First of all you have to ask for a dollar amount to be contributed and the maximum dollar amount can be regulated by the type of loan.  Also, it is an “up to” amount so it is either use it or lose it.  This is a great benefit to buyers because it helps keep dollars in your wallet.

3. Can we move in before closing?  Although the answer is technically yes, I strongly recommend you find another option.  Why would a buyer want to move in before closing?  In most cases it is because a lease or living situation is expiring and they do not want to move their belongings twice.  So how can a buyer move in before actually closing?  The answer is a temporary lease.  If the seller agrees, the buyer can lease the property from the seller for a short amount of time until the home closes and funds.  Why do I not recommend this option?  Because so many negative things can happen.  Most commonly, something breaks and there is a dispute over who should fix it.  But if this is the only option for a buyer it is possible to   move in before closing.