Question: Are open houses actually useful?

Answer: The short answer is, yes. Oh, we’ve heard many of the arguments against public open houses: Only nosy neighbors come. It’s a weekend amusement for people who could never afford my house. Dishonest people might be checking out my stuff. Real estate agents want them in order to pick up new clients.

In a market like River Oaks, both the broker open houses – typically on Tuesdays noon to 2 pm in River Oaks – and public open houses on the weekends are an excellent way to get genuinely motivated buyers into your home. Nothing sells a house like the house itself.

Pretty photos on HAR.com can only do so much. And that’s true for agent spiels and glossy brochures, too. In the end, the charming combination of your home on your property in your neighborhood has to be experienced.

Thus the seller’s motivation should be to make viewing a house at its best as easy and convenient as possible.

Question: Should I rent or should I buy?

Answer: What are your plans for the next three to five years? If odds are fair to good that you will be transferred or find a new job in another city, you should rent. Renting also allows you to stay flexible should you, say, have a new baby and need another bedroom.

New to Houston? Rent first in order to figure out what neighborhoods you like best before you commit.

Yes, a home can be an excellent investment. But price appreciation is never a sure thing, especially in the short run, and depends on many factors, including the national economy and local real estate market.

On the other hand, home ownership can offer some tax deductions by way of discount points, mortgage interest and property tax.

Although mortgage rates have risen a bit in recent weeks and months, they are still quite low. It’s possible you might find a mortgage with monthly payments (including taxes and insurance) that are less than rent.

There are many other considerations, too. Call us if you want to talk.