Listening with her Eyes
Realtor Sandy O’Bier looks for what makes clients’ eyes light up
L ocal Realtor Sandy O’Bier said 23 years in the profession has taught her to listen with her eyes.
“I love helping people make good decisions, whether to buy, rent, or sell, but I’ve learned to listen with my eyes. People may say one thing, but you can tell by how their eyes light up that a house may not be anything like what they thought they wanted,” she said.
O’Bier, who works for Hot Springs Realty, is a native of Hot Springs and has lived in the Spa City all her life except for when she
attended college out of state.
After graduation, she taught in public and private schools for a number of years.
“I think I bring to the table a love of Hot Springs. If I wasn’t selling real estate, I’d be working for the tourist bureau. I think we have everything. My husband and I could have moved anywhere, but we love the lakes and the schools.
“I graduated from the Hot Springs schools and my children went to the community college here, which I think is the most affordable college. I believe that so strongly it makes it easy for me to sell it,” O’Bier said.
With years of experience selling real estate in the Hot Springs area, O’Bier said homes are a little more expensive here than in some other parts of the state, but the return on the investment is also higher.
“Your initial investment is a little bit higher. We’re a tourist town, a national park, a spa, so your initial cost is a little higher, but when you resell it, it all balances out.”
She said she is also excited to see interest rates rising “because it gets people off the fence,” and stop waiting to see how low they may go.
“I worked with one couple for three years and on July 16, they decided it was time to buy. Nothing has changed; the market wasn’t significantly different, it’s just that there is an urgency now as they wait to see what is going to happen,” she said.
O’Bier said the hard part of being a Realtor is having to tell someone they may be “upside down” on their mortgage.
“Realtors don’t make the market, we only interpret it. It’s really hard when someone bought in 2005, 2006 at the height of the market to tell them they might be upside down if they put practically nothing down. It’s hard when people are upside down, when they’ve borrowed against their house over and over, but I don’t make the market, I merely interpret it,” she said.
And, while the inventory of available homes in the area is good, O’Bier said she believes there is an oversupply of more expensive homes.
“Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of industry executives moving to Hot Springs recently. Those higher-dollar homes – $300,000 and up – we have an oversupply.
“Also, in certain school districts, people want to buy three- and four-bedroom, twobath homes for under $100,000, but those are hard to find. Overall, though, I think we still have a strong supply.”
O’Bier said she would tell a young couple shopping for their first home that if they find one they like, to buy it before it’s gone, and couples still have some good financing opportunities available
“Rural Development is a zero-down program and it still exists. A person’s credit scores have to prove they are responsible, and the Farmers Home Administration can help people who may have been slow (paying) on a couple of things get a home at 3.5 percent interest.”
In a normal market, O’Bier said a home is still a person’s best investment, but there is no guarantee that a home will appreciate in value.