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Home Our Story BLOG: The Story PODCAST: Ep. 4_COVID-19, the Market and Other Factors Affecting Home Sales (with Knob & Key Realty)

PODCAST: Ep. 4_COVID-19, the Market and Other Factors Affecting Home Sales (with Knob & Key Realty)

Thursday June 18, 2020

Ep. 4_COVID-19, the Market and Other Factors Affecting Home Sales (with Knob & Key Realty)



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Michelle Ozymy: [00:00:00] I think we're going to see a lot more people in the market over the next six months and more than what we would have traditionally experienced had things not changed. So, definitely, if someone is interested in purchasing in that price point, they probably need to get started pretty quickly.

Chelsi: [00:00:14] That was the voice of Michelle Ozymy of Knob & Key Realty, talking about the current real estate market we're in here in the summer of 2020. We talk about that and much more on this episode of Welcome Home.

[00:00:29] Welcome Home. A podcast brought to you by John Houston Custom Home. Join host Chelsea Frazier and Whitney Pryor as they walk you through the exciting adventure of your home buying and building journey.

Whitney: [00:00:43] Thank you for joining us today on the Welcome Home podcast. I am Whitney Pryor and I have here with me Chelsea Frazier, our co-host.

Whitney: [00:00:51] Chelsea, why don't you tell us who is on the show today?

Chelsi: [00:00:54] Today on this episode we have Michelle Ozymy and Alan Simonton. They are co-owners of Knob & Key Realty and they are going to talk to us about the current real estate market, Buyer needs and wants, preowned vs. new home purchases, and even what they've been seeing recently with the Covid-19 pandemic. Welcome, Michelle and Alan. Thank you so much for being here, and we're happy to have you on our show.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:01:20] Thank you so much for having us. It's always a pleasure to be a part of the J Houston Family of Companies. We have worked with you guys for so many years, and it's just an amazing opportunity for us to get to be here and talk with you and your listeners about the current real estate market.

Alan Simonton: [00:01:35] Yes, thanks for having us. This is a fantastic opportunity and it definitely is an honor to be here with you guys and to be a strategic partner with John Houston Custom Homes. it's just a blessing to us and our team, and has been inspirational for us in developing our business and our core values and our mission. So, thank you.

Chelsi: [00:02:01] You guys have been selling real estate for how many years?

Alan Simonton: [00:02:03] Combined, it's over 20 years, I believe. Maybe even 25 years.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:02:09] Yeah. Basically we started when we were like 10. I know this year we have sold over 1,200 Homes total in our career together.

Alan Simonton: [00:02:21] Yes we've served 1,200 families help buy and sell their home, and the number just keeps going up. It's something that we're building continuously and focusing on and working on; to build a legacy for a generation of realtors that want to continue to grow and learn and be an impact on their community.

Whitney: [00:02:43] That's such a large number, and I think that is just a testimony to the service you provide, because I think in the real estate industry, you have to have that relationship with people and their families. It's a continued relationship and that's how they keep coming back to use you.

Alan Simonton: [00:03:08] Thank you, and it is something that we consciously focus on. For us, our mission starts with empowering people to live well. Whether that's in real estate or missions trips, or prayer, whatever that looks like to empower people, because we don't want to do it for them, we want to do it with them. The next part of our mission is to create a positive community, because that's who we are and that's who we want. That's where we want to live, and we want our clients and friends and family and agents to be successful and live in a positive community. Our Mission statement is "Built on service." So we lead by our faith and we work on being knowledgeable from how to connect with people, understanding what their goals are, and we want to also be knowledgeable about the market so we can help our people win. We also lead with integrity. We want to do what we say we're going to do; for ourselves, for our agents, and for our community. We focus on service, and we want to make sure that's excellent and that we are going above and beyond, and going that second mile just like you guys.

Chelsi: [00:04:32] So much of buying a home or figuring out where you want to live is a relational process because it's your personality and what fits in with your family and in the environment that you're going to be around. I think that because you guys are so relational and so fun, we've been looking forward to this podcast for weeks now. Having you guys will really help people understand the whole process and feel at ease.

Chelsi: [00:05:09] So I think let's just jump right in. What is a Buyer and Seller's Market? What does that mean and which one are we in right now?

Michelle Ozymy: [00:05:20] Great question. 2020 has been such an interesting year. It seems to change on an almost daily basis. A seller's market is obviously advantageous to the sellers, and I feel like we are in a seller's market right now because of the limited inventory. Even going through Covid-19 beginning in March, while many sellers were hesitant to put their homes on the market, buyers were anxious to get in there and put in an offer. So what we've seen is for those sellers who were and are willing to put their homes on the market, things are selling relatively fast and pretty close to asking price, if not over asking price in some instances. That price point under $350,000 we're seeing move extremely fast, which is a great opportunity for sellers to be in. Then, with interest rates being as low as they are, this is a great opportunity for buyers and sellers to move into that next home.

Chelsi: [00:06:13] That's great. So what is a buyer's market?

Alan Simonton: [00:06:17] So Buyers market is going to be more advantageous for a buyer. That means that you're going to see more homes, more inventory on the market, and you're going to see them on market for a longer period of time. That means that they're going to have more negotiation power. They're going to be able to get some potentially lower offers and prices on those homes. Depending on the price point right now in the market, you could see it be a buyer's market, based on location and list price, on some of the higher dollar homes right now. We're seeing those come down as far as the sales price. The expectation, I think, from some sellers in some areas, from Dallas to Arlington all over where we serve is that we're still in a rising peak on the $400 to half million dollar houses when it may actually be the low $380-400,000 range. So, again, I agree it is a seller's market.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:07:29] I would agree with that. It's definitely price point driven. There's so little inventory in that first-time buyer market. Affordable housing has been an issue in Texas for a while now because there is limited inventory which is pushing prices up. So anything that we see under $350,000 in almost all areas is moving significantly faster, so that's where you would see a seller's market versus once you get over that 350 price point. Those are taking a little bit longer to sell. So it's kind of a buyer's market and a seller's market, depending on the price point and location.

Alan Simonton: [00:08:02] Yeah. So in Q1 and in this entire state of Texas, we saw about 71,000 homes sold. That was obviously before Covid hit and shelter-in-place. We've had buyers and sellers on both spectrums of "I want to wait" or "take my house off the market," or we've had them pushing to "I want to sell." "I want to buy." But within that amount of homes sold, that price point of $240-250,000 is a sellers market. I listed on the Memorial Day weekend three homes within that $240-270,000 price range in three different communities and they all went into multiple offers over that weekend. And they all got offers over asking price.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:09:06] Yeah and actually a couple of those homes were in neighborhoods that last year did not move as quickly.

Alan Simonton: [00:09:12] Correct. Actually, one of them was in Burleson, and I actually sold two homes in that neighborhood previously that I've had to do price reductions on because they were extended time like up to 60 to 90 days on market. This one I sold in three. It was smaller square footage, the price point was just right, so kind of that sweet spot.

Whitney: [00:10:12] Going back to that $250-270,000 price point, we're definitely seeing that on our side as well for John Houston Custom Homes. As the person that answers and fields those calls of what people are interested in, we see that price point being the most asked for, and my best advice I can give people is if you're looking for a home in that price point to move in for the summer, make sure you're doing your research early - start in March or April, because by the time you hit May and June, the inventory in that price point is so low and what you're getting might not be what you want. So if you want a selection of homes in that $250-270 price point, my suggestion is to start early in looking so that you can have some selection to choose from.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:11:12] Absolutely, and I think what we're going to see - what all of the statistics have indicated and different polls and things like that - the next six months of the real estate market is going to be so much busier than it would have been had we not experienced any issues with Covid-19, because particularly in that price point, people who've been renting are ready to get out of that twelve hundred square foot apartment and into a home. So that, should this come back around, they'll have the space that they need to be comfortable during shelter-in-place. Plus, with interest rates being so low it just makes sense, particularly in that price range, that someone would want to make a home purchase and start building equity for their family as opposed to continuing to rent. So I think we're going to see a lot more people in the market over the next six months than what we would have traditionally experienced had things not changed. So definitely if someone is interested in purchasing in that price point, they probably need to get started pretty quickly.

Alan Simonton: [00:12:10] I would second that, and for everyone listening to this podcast that's been sitting at home realizing they need an office or they need another bedroom or a bigger backyard, I wouldn't be discouraged to think, "Oh, my gosh, well there's just not enough homes" or "I can't afford this" or whatever that looks like. interest rates are great right now. There are opportunities to purchase homes that even if you think it's out of your price range, it may not be. So I encourage you to work on getting pre-qualified. And again, that's something Michelle and I work with you from the beginning to the end on, and way beyond; managing the transaction and helping even just a basic search in the beginning. We want to be a part of every aspect of that. One of my philosophies as being a realtor is being a responder and that's something that we really focus on. If buying a home right now isn't right, maybe it's down the road and maybe you need to work on credit, well, we're gonna be with you through all that, too.

Alan Simonton: [00:13:29] And I know that you guys have worked with buyers on that end as well, because ultimately you want to serve their family and get them into a brand new home. I've had a couple of new construction sales this year and we've seen Lenders step up and help with some closing costs, and we've seen some of those been negotiable on sales prices and lot premiums and all of that fun stuff. So maybe you could share a little bit about that. What does that look like for you guys going through the summer into the fall? Because I think this fall is going to be pretty impactful for your business and our business.

Whitney: [00:14:13] Absolutely. We've definitely seen a lot more people recently getting out and wanting to shop for homes. For us, we do see all ends of the spectrum. We see people that are looking for a home within the next 30 days, and we see people that are looking in the next five years. They call us and they share their dreams, their stories, what they want. They love John Houston homes, but they're just not in the right situation yet to purchase a home. And we love hearing from all of those people. We're not just interested in helping the person that can purchase in 30 days. We want to start that relationship with someone that's just now starting the process and looking, and isn't going to buy until five years from now. It's so heartwarming to have them call back and ask all the questions, because that's the business we're in. And that is why we wake up and do what we do every day. That's kind of my side of it. I would love to hear Chelsi's side of it, too.

Chelsi: [00:15:17] Well, it makes me think of those top fans that we have on Facebook and Instagram - there's a couple of ladies in particular that I'm thinking of right now - who have been following us and keeping up with pictures and posts for years and they'll tag their husbands in it, and we're in it with them, like "yes, it would be great for your man cave!" you know, we're encouraging her to convince her husband to buy the home.

Chelsi: [00:15:42] So it's just about the relationship for us. Of course, we want to sell the homes, but we're all in it together.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:15:50] Something that I love is when we help a client with a John Houston home, and a few days after they get the keys, they've moved in, they're so excited and they love their home, they're already telling us what next John Houston Neighborhood they want to move in to.

Alan Simonton: [00:16:03] Yes! We're hearing more and more of that and we love it. The last few years, we've helped people sell their previous John Houston home just to move into another. In fact, the house I was telling you about in Burleson; they're moving from there J houston Home in Mill Valley, and this is the second client that I've helped do that.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:16:29] Yes it's just so fun joining them on that life journey. It's all of us together.

Alan Simonton: [00:16:32] And what's great is seeing that the reason they're doing that is because their family is growing or they're moving a mom into the home, which we're seeing a lot more of these days, and that gets us excited. We're like, "okay, yeah, I can absolutely get behind that. I'm going to do everything I can to serve you in that goal" because then that goal becomes our goal.

Chelsi: [00:16:58] How does that work with folks selling the home while they're trying to buy or build a new home? How do you help people through that?

Michelle Ozymy: [00:17:05] We just sit down and we look at each situation as different. We work with the family to see what's going be most comfortable for them. Sometimes they've already found a home that's on the ground ready to go, and they need us to sell their home in a week, and sometimes we're able to do that. So we just come up with a realistic plan and strategy to help get them in their new home. And that may mean we get their home on the market immediately, or we may need to wait until closer to their home being complete. We even help them find temporary housing, so we really are a full service realty group. We help with all the pieces, whether it's finding someone to help paint or replace the carpet in the house or helping them find a mover or helping them find hotel stays, those types of things. So, again, each situation is different and we will sit down with them and then speak with our John Houston consultant and do whatever it takes to get them into that home quickly.

Whitney: [00:20:45] So speaking on that, can you tell us about the program that you offer with John Houston Homes and how our relationship helps our homeowners get into a home and also use a realtor?

[00:20:59] Yes, I'd love to talk about that. We have been working with John Houston Homes with the List For Free Program for, gosh, so many years before it even had a name. In this program each community is different and what each salesperson has available in their marketing dollars is always different, but with List For Free, we're able to put your home on the market and get it sold for you, and you're only paying three percent realtor fees instead of the typical six percent realtor fee. So it's huge savings in your pocket that will allow you to come up with more money for your down payment, for furniture, money in the design center, whatever you need to do. The advantage is that because of our relationship with John Houston homes, we're able to be a liaison between your salesperson and you so that we can work with that salesperson on a strategy and help them feel comfortable and taking that contingency. We sit down with you, we pull comps, we talk about sales time on market, how long it's going to take to sell, and what the right price should be. Then once we come to terms on that, we're able to present that to your salesperson and say, "look, we're doing all the right things and we're gonna get this home sold." So we're bridging the gap to help get you in that home. And then we also work with John Houston's preferred lender so we can just put it all together as one big package. We don't help you pack though.

Alan Simonton: [00:22:17] No, we don't, we don't move. But we are full service when it comes to everything else - professional photography, all of the bells and whistles that we use,and the professional services that we use to get the job done.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:22:35] And I think just having the John Houston Homes team all working together just makes the process a little bit easier and smoother for the client, for sure. It makes them feel like they've got a ton of people working behind them to push them into their home and reach their goals.

Whitney: [00:22:49] I agree, I think for homeowners looking to build with John Houston homes, the big advantage is all of the relationships and partners that we work with. So you can use your own lender, but the advantage of using Trinity Oaks mortgage is that we have those internal relationships. It makes it so seamless for the home buyer.

Alan Simonton: [00:23:58] I always tell my clients that I don't want you worrying about anything, I just want you making good decisions. I've run into this situation where some folks think, "OK, well, if they're all in this together, it's a one-stop-shop, do they really have my best interests in mind?" And I can 100% say, yes. You know, if you don't want to work with us, that's fine, we understand. But we are going to put our best foot forward. So I just want to encourage anyone who is looking at a John Houston home, give us a try. Talk with us, connect with us, and see how we can serve you best.

Chelsi: [00:24:54] That's awesome. So what is the general rule of thumb when it comes to home affordability?

Michelle Ozymy: [00:25:07] The typical rule of thumb on your mortgage payment is that it should be about about two to three times your annual salary. That's what you're going to be able to afford in a mortgage. But with rates being so low right now, this is an even better opportunity to buy because that means you can purchase more of a home. So if you qualified for $250,000 a year ago, you may qualify for $275,000 now because the payments are going to be the same, thanks to the lower interest rates. It's definitely a great opportunity to find out what you do qualify for and see what kind of awesome home you can get yourself into.

Whitney: [00:25:47] I don't think a lot of people realize that interest rates make such a big impact on what you can afford. People get started in researching homes for sale and they have this number stuck in their head. And is that number accurate? You know, it's so important. So ask us questions. Why is that your number? Have interest rates gone up or down since then? And you might be able to afford more than you think.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:26:19] And I would also encourage people to look at the great tools that are out there online because those are great for getting started, but I would also encourage you, if you're not sure, contact Trinity Oaks Mortgage or contact us and get a real answer. I have often found that once I contact Trinity Oaks, the information I find is a little more favorable than what I found online. We don't mind a phone call. Please reach out to us. Let us help you. Let us serve you the best way we can.

Chelsi: [00:26:44] It's that time of year that we're getting appraisals. Let's talk about that. What are people asking you about Tax Appraisals? Let's get into that.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:27:14] Well, taxes are always going to go up, especially when we're in a positive market, which is what we've been in for so many years. And that's a good thing because you do want your property values to increase. It makes people want to move into your neighborhood. It keeps neighborhoods stable, and it means that, with those extra taxes, that the city or county is able to provide additional resources to the community, which they need. So most of these tax dollars are going to roads and schools and parks and all kinds of wonderful things that we all enjoy. Now, none of us wants to pay additional taxes, but that's where the low interest rates are an advantage right now. This is why it's so important to take advantage of these low interest rates, because you can rest assured taxes will continue to go up. But with the lower interest rates, that's where you can offset that and make a wise purchase and take advantage. The taxes going up like we've seen this year has been rather dramatic. But that's because there has been so many sales, particularly in Ellis County. We've seen a bigger jump than most other places.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:28:23] So that's the reason for that increase. Yes, there are opportunities for protesting those taxes, and we're happy to take phone calls and provide people with comps. So definitely it's worth looking into. And you can take that information that we give you to the city and get those taxes reduced if it's reasonable. Alan and I are happy to help with that, but definitely a part of growth is going to be an increase in taxes and we certainly enjoy the things that come with that growth, like the parks and the playgrounds and those things that our community is able to use.

Alan Simonton: [00:29:21] Yeah. I think if you can protest and get a small amount off of the taxes, it feels like a win. You know, I've seen people get five to ten thousand dollars off just by protesting. And what does that look like? So how do you protest taxes? Well, it's a great question. You would just go to the tax assessor.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:29:42] Yes, and there's directions for that on the city's website. So we can provide you with those comps and then you can schedule the appointment and hopefully do something to get those taxes reduced.

Whitney: [00:29:50] So I've heard you talk about comps. Can you just kind of explain to us listeners what comps are?

Alan Simonton: [00:29:55] Yes, comparable sales. So when looking for an estimated sales price for a home, we have to sort of think like an appraiser would and look at home sales from the past 90 to 180 days within that particular subdivision or neighborhood. So it's taking those homes, and looking at what they've sold for, price per square foot, and all that, because we have to listen to what the market is saying. The market kind of tells us what that estimated sales price would be and then an appraiser confirms what that price would be. So if you're wanting to list it at a price based on taxes going up, you may be pricing yourself out of showings and selling and appraisal. Well, we're going to be honest with you and tell you what the market is actually saying. So that's comps.

Whitney: [00:31:07] So it's not like a spaghetti string. You don't just throw it on the wall and see what sticks. There's actually some data and analysis behind the sales price.

Alan Simonton: [00:31:17] Right and you always want to be respectful. I always ask the question of my sellers, "You know, I know that you're savvy and know there's so many tools like Zillow,, all of those things that you can see the price of homes sold, so do you have an idea of what you would want to sell your home for?" And then I can either confirm that or we can kind of work through why it is or isn't correct. Because we want to be accurate.

Chelsi: [00:31:39] So is there anything else you want to talk about, specifically to buyers? to sellers? The real estate market in general, or anything we haven't covered yet that you think is relevant?

Michelle Ozymy: [00:31:49] Well there's been so much negativity in 2020 so far. But don't let that deter you. This really is a great time to buy and sell a home. Interest rates are fantastic, John Houston inventory is fantastic. You guys have some great neighborhoods, some incredible floor plans, so it is a wonderful time to buy and sell a home. So don't be nervous about the market. And if you are, let us guide you through it. Give us a call. Let us talk about what it looks like for you and what's going to be the best decision. There are some people that, after a conversation, need to stay put, but I feel like most people are in a great opportunity to get themselves into a new home. So if you're thinking about it, don't let the current market deter you, because this really is a fantastic time to get out there.

Alan Simonton: [00:32:36] I would second that. If you are having the conversation, "I wonder would be like to buy a new home," that is the time to call us. Reach out to us. We would love to serve you.

Alan Simonton: [00:32:53] Also just want to say, you know, with Father's Day coming up I've got a good dad joke for you if you want.

Whitney: [00:32:59] I absolutely can't turn down a dad joke.

Alan Simonton: [00:33:04] So happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Michelle and I, we love the beach, right? So here's a good one - What did one ocean say to the other ocean?.... Nothing, they just waved.

Alan Simonton: [00:33:26] Okay, one more - Why do skeleton's not get frustrated?

Whitney: [00:33:31] Because they're bad to the bone?

Alan Simonton: [00:33:32] No, no, because you can't get under their skin.

Alan Simonton: [00:33:37] So that's the kind of service that I provide. It's always a good time.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:33:47] Yes, we always say that between the two of us we attract very different clients. I'm probably not going to tell any dad jokes, but I will take great care of you.

Chelsi: [00:34:12] Thank you, Michelle, and thank you, Alan with Knob & Key Realty. We will put their contact information in the show notes and link them on our social media and website pages. We just want to thank you again for coming and sharing your knowledge today.

Michelle Ozymy: [00:34:26] Thank you. We appreciate you having us.

Whitney: [00:34:29] Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. You can find more information about our homes at If you have questions about today's episode, please reach out to us at 866-646-6008, or e-mail us at As Chelsi said, we will have a link in the description if you would like to get in contact with Knob & Key Realty. We certainly recommend it.

Whitney: [00:35:01] Thanks again for listening to our podcast and we'll see you again next time on Welcome home.