Getting Started

Buying or selling a home is tough, no doubt about it. But experts are in your corner.

Bryan Sheppard, president and CEO of Tulsa’s Coldwell Banker Select, offers some counsel for those embarking on the home-buying journey.  

“Know what you can afford,” he says. “Most buyers can borrow more than they can afford. It’s important to know how much you have in your budget.”

And, he says, “don’t let emotion trick you into overcoming some of the negatives on a home. Make sure you buy right.”

Sherry Lewis, operating partner with Keller Williams, offers some advice on the selling aspect.

“Select a Realtor you like and trust,” she says. “The Realtor will make an appointment to view your home, discuss the pricing process and the marketing process. You will discuss the importance of staging.” 

The agent will then introduce the marketing plan and the pricing process.

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“After that, the marketing begins,” she says. “Right now, we have a housing shortage, so houses are selling pretty quickly.”

Sheppard agrees. In today’s market, “you need to be ready to buy. Have your pre-approval ready to go,” he says. “Your Realtor can put you in touch with a reputable lender to make it happen.”

Tulsa agent Gannon Brown, part of McGraw Realtors’ Brown and Company team, says those in the market should familiarize themselves with real estate terms that will inevitably come up during the process. For buyers, these include conventional financing, pre-approval, earnest money and TRR (treatment, repairs and replacements). Sellers should understand concepts like appraisal, dollar per square foot, and abstract and comparative market analysis. 

Finding an Agent

One of the first steps in a home buying or selling journey is finding the right Realtor or estate agent to add to your team.

“Ask your friends who have recently purchased or sold a home,” says Sheppard. “Ask them about the experience they had with their agents.”

He also suggests checking online reviews.

Peter Walter, founder of Tulsa’s Walter and Associates firm, says it’s all about asking the right questions.

“Interview them and talk to them about your house and that particular market,” he says. “The important thing is if they have knowledge of that neighborhood.”

Sheryl Chinowth, CEO of Chinowth and Cohen, says some of the questions to ask a prospective agent include:

“What type of training have you had?”

“How many homes have you sold?”

“What type of support do you receive from your company?”

“What type of marketing is at your fingertips for sellers?”

Curb Appeal

Real estate agents agree that curb appeal reigns supreme when it’s time to put a house on the market. 

“Curb appeal is first,” says Chinowth. “Brush up the landscape. Have a welcoming front porch and front door.”  

Flower beds should be well-groomed and trees trimmed, and walkways should be kept clear. After capturing that curb appeal, de-cluttering comes second, experts say.

“Think minimalistic … especially on countertops and closets,” says Chinowth. “Beyond that, ask your Realtor what things need to be attended to – that will help the sale of the home.”

Chinowth says she often uses a professional stager.

“We go room by room and make a list of what needs to come out or be moved to another room,” she says. “You might need to take a lot of personal effects out.”

What it Takes

Perhaps you’re not in the market to buy or sell, but instead to become a Realtor or real estate agent yourself. The first step toward launching a real estate career is to attend the 90-hour pre-licensing school, says Brown. The course is taught by several online-only firms, and local brokerages offer real estate schools that combination in-person and online learning. Graduates then take a state exam, and once licensed, are required to work for a licensed brokerage. 

Successful agents are possessed of knowledge, integrity and professionalism, says Chinowth. They also need good math skills and an ability to learn, “as the market and real estate law are both constantly changing,” she says.

A typical day for an agent includes generating leads and serving clients, says Lewis, who mentions that people who enter the field should be prepared to work at night, meeting with prospective clients and showing properties.

“If you are full-time, you are on call all the time,” agrees Walter. He says real estate agents need “energy, stamina, focus, persistence and knowledge.”

What People Want

It’s not just the living spaces that are attracting home buyers these days, nor is it just low interest rates. Oklahoma is an increasingly desirable location.

Philip Churchill with Chinowth and Cohen says that “Oklahoma life and culture is really registering on the map right now as a place where people want to live. And you can get so much for your money right now.”

The pandemic has sent many buyers in search of more indoor and outdoor space, says Chinowth.

“We are also seeing a lot of people moving from Texas and California, from high-density areas to what they feel is a less dense area,” she says.

In his day-to-day, Brown is noticing some trends in buyers’ design taste.

“Mid-century modern seems to be very popular right now,” he says. “And farmhouse transitional, which has the warmth of a farmhouse but more of an industrial feel.”

Modern design with clean lines and a minimalist vibe “seems to be creeping up in popularity,” he says.

A Look at the Market

Oklahoma is currently in a seller’s market.

“There are more buyers than there is inventory, and prices are on a steady increase,” says Churchill. A buyer’s market “means a lot of inventory and decreased pricing.”

Low interest rates are the primary reason for the home-buying frenzy, experts say.

“Another reason for the active market is that people are realizing, due to the pandemic, that their activities are mostly located in their homes, and that has created a new demand for a different type of home,” says Lewis. “Some are looking for home offices, others for homes with recreation areas or bigger backyards.”

Oklahoma’s Hot Spots

When asked to identify “hot spots” in the Oklahoma City and Tulsa markets, real estate agents emphasized that every neighborhood is getting a piece of the pie.

“There’s no cold spot in any market,” says Sheppard. 

“This is the hottest market that I’ve seen in the decade that I’ve been in the industry,” agrees Brown. “Bixby and Broken Arrow are absolutely exploding. In Tulsa proper, Lewiston Gardens is very popular right now. The Pearl District is rehabilitating and blossoming. There’s a lot of residential development going on downtown – lots of vertical living.”

In the Oklahoma City metro, Piedmont, Yukon and Edmond are as busy as ever, says Sheppard. 

“All the historical areas are doing really well,” seconds Churchill. “And the $400,000 and under properties in Edmond. Nichols Hills is doing really well.”

Downsizing Dilemma

Looking to downsize? Before making the decision, analyze what your future looks like, says Lewis.

“Will their grown children live locally, or will they move outside the state and come home for holidays?” she asks. “If children and grandchildren are coming to spend the night, they may need to maintain the home.”

People who want to travel a lot might need to live in a gated area.

“They should consider how much property they want to take care of,” she says. “Every person has to try to forecast out how they will be living.”

Churchill says some baby boomers are downsizing, but the pandemic has caused others to decide differently.

“Some are buying bigger and moving family members in with them, as opposed to going to a care facility,” he says.

Realtor vs.
Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents and brokers who belong to the National Association of Realtors are known as Realtors. The NAR was created to promote the real estate profession and foster professional behavior in its members, according to its website. 

“Being a Realtor member means they abide by a code of ethics, and adhere to certain guidelines,” said Lewis. 

A real estate agent can be licensed but not a Realtor due to lack of access to a national association. 

Kimberly Burk
Author: Kimberly Burk