A broker's insight into the pandemic-driven housing boom and how to prepare for the next one
Texas, notably Austin, has emerged as a beacon for real estate enthusiasts, investors, and first-time homebuyers. The state’s unique blend of cultural vibrancy, economic opportunity, and technological innovation has made it a magnet for a diverse population. Carlos Zorrilla, mortgage broker and owner of Texas Real Estate Finance, has witnessed this transformation firsthand.
“Austin is a big tech city. Many of the bigger companies from California moved into town,” Zorrilla (pictured) told MPA.
This influx and the city’s reputation as a burgeoning tech hub have supercharged the real estate market.
Challenges amid the boom
However, with growth comes challenges. The rapid rise in demand, especially in cities like Austin, has led to skyrocketing property prices.
“We had a moment where the market got quite heated here,” Zorrilla said. “We had a lot of overbidding. The median house price came up almost $100,000 to $150,000 - in a matter of a year and a half. It was very common that a humble home would go into the market and, within days or within that same weekend, we’d get 15 to 20 offers.”
Such a competitive landscape poses hurdles, particularly for first-time homebuyers. In a market teeming with offers exceeding asking prices, many find themselves priced out or facing fierce competition.
“That makes it complicated for our first-time home buyers who have their down payment,” Zorrilla added. “But when you have 10 or more offers, and they’re all higher than what you’re asking for, well, this market gets underserved.”
Reaching a global audience
“I decided to become a mortgage broker because I knew I could get access to many different wholesale lenders, and that opened up a lot more diversity in my product portfolio,” Zorrilla shared. "So I am not only, but also working with the typical W2 first-time home buyer employee, but I can also offer an array of different products for investors.”
Zorrilla highlights the interest from overseas investors, attributing some of this traction to effective digital marketing.
“We have investors from different parts of the world. They want to buy here, and they don’t necessarily live or work here, but they want to invest in real estate here,” he said. “I use social media [to reach them]. We have an account with different social media platforms, and then we pay for ads.
“I guess nowadays most of your business has to do with social media, but also through relationships that I had already developed with agents who know the portfolio I work with. That is how I get most of my referral business from overseas clients or clients with a very particular loan scenario. They know of my portfolio and see if there’s something I can handle.”
This has enabled Zorrilla to tap into a broader clientele base, from local first-time buyers to international real estate enthusiasts.
Preparing for the future
With the ever-evolving landscape of Texas real estate, preparation is key. Zorrilla is optimistic about the future, especially with forecasts hinting at improved rates and potential administrative changes. He believes the industry is on the cusp of significant shifts and emphasizes the need to be ready.
“There is a lot of expectation with the new administration change,” he said. “If rates come back down, we have to be prepared because all of the underserved population are going to rush.”
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He emphasized that preparation will be crucial “because we might get into the same situation a couple of years ago when there was a lot of demand and low inventory. We have to make sure that for us in mortgage, we have the right products, we have the right team, we can provide the speed, the availability, the customer service.”
For Zorrilla, the Texas real estate boom is not just a fleeting trend but a testament to the state’s enduring appeal, adaptability, and potential for sustained growth.
“Real estate is very much like oil. It’s very cyclical. There are high and really low tides, so we have to learn to maneuver through different challenges.”
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