After decades of selling real estate in Fort Bend County, Ace Hernandez isn’t about to let a pandemic slow him down.
“We haven’t slowed down any,” said Ace, owner of Manor Lane Properties and leader of the “Ace Hernandez Team,” which includes four other sales associates.
“Every Realtor will be different, but as for us we’re still doing OK.”
While the real estate market in the big cities may be depressed by the COVID crisis, home sales in Fort Bend County haven’t suffered as much,” said Ace, who founded his real estate firm in 1996.
“We’re having no problem selling property,” he said. “Depending on what the buyer is looking for, we can probably get it for them.”
One reason home sales are still high in Fort Bend County is the influx of new residents, Ace explains. “We have a lot of new people moving into the county all the time, and they need homes,” he noted. “Business was great before the pandemic but it’s still very good right now.”
He said his sales are up over last year, despite a stay-home order and economic shutdown that cost many people their income and gobbled up savings for new homes.
Ace said the sales of lower-priced homes are taking a hit but not because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Entry-level homes — houses for first-time buyers that used to sell for $150,000 to $200,000 are now selling for well over $200,000 because the sellers are asking for more,” he said. “Sellers are confident they can get their asking price in this market because homes don’t stay on the market long. They’re being bought almost as soon as they’re put on the market.”
Today, a $250,000 home in Fort Bend County is considered really cheap, Ace says.
What about those impacted by the stay-home order and economic shutdown?
“As long as they’re still working and qualify, banks are still making loans, he said. “If they feel their job is secure and they have no late payments or missed payments in the past 12 months they should be able to pre-qualify for a loan,” he said.
Credit score under 600? Ace suggests homebuyers with less than stellar credit get a credit card and make payments on time or a small bank loan.
“If you can get your credit score over 600 and show the lender you can be counted on to make your payments on time, there’s a good chance you can get a home loan,” he said.
Even people who are late on payments can still get home loans.
“If they’ve missed payments, the lender may ask them to go through a credit restoration program before they can get a loan,” he said. But he does recommend homebuyers pre-qualify first.
“I always recommend homebuyers find a loan and then find a home,” he said. He also recommends home buyers seek out the lowest interest rate possible.
“A low-interest rate means more house for a lot less dollars,” he explained. “You can get more home for an interest rate of 3% to 3-1/4% than you can for an interest rate of 5% or 6%."
As for sellers, Ace recommends they consult with a Realtor who will understand the real estate market in the area and how much the seller can honestly expect to sell the property for in its current condition.
A good Realtor will also recommend ways the seller can improve their property for sale, he said.