In the late 1990s while working for a downtown corporate law firm, Elizabeth Villarreal would often look out of her 37th floor office window and marvel at the number of cars and trucks driving on Houston’s freeways and long for the freedom of a flexible schedule.
A short time later she decided to jump into a career in real estate with both feet and she hasn’t looked back. Licensed as a Realtor since 1998, Villarreal recently moved to Coldwell Banker Realty and is in the process of forming a team with two of her three daughters, both currently in real estate school.
“I just hit the ground running in 1998 because I had to support my family and couldn’t create a lag in monthly income while in transition, and I did it! Selling real estate is not a game to me; selling real estate is a worthy career where I can assist and support people making significant life changes and investments. Within a year or two, I realized “This is who I am – a realtor, and this is what I am supposed to be doing” – all my life and professional experience came together and made me a stronger realtor,” she said.
Given her heavy background in corporate transactions and document creation in downtown firms, Villarreal said one of her specialties is breaking down a contract in a way that is easily understandable for her clients. When combined with her natural love of people and interaction with them, Villarreal said a career in real estate allows her the chance to combine her skills, knowledge and passions.
“I can help people understand what it is they’re signing and why, and that’s a very important thing to me – to guide and educate my clients,” she said. “I enjoy people and I thoroughly enjoy getting to know my clients as we view houses or work through a transaction together. That is the fun part.”
Working primarily in Inner Loop and Central Houston neighborhoods such as the various Heights neighborhoods (including some of Houston’s Historic Districts), Rice Military, Camp Logan, Garden Oaks, Oak Forest and other nearby subdivisions, as well as Livingston, Conroe, Woodlands, Galveston, League City, Katy, Sugar Land and Pearland, Villarreal’s clientele is generally a mix between buyers and sellers – though she said this past year brought more sellers and listings.
As a seventh-generation Houstonian and 3rd generation owner in Oak Forest, Villarreal knows Houston like the back of her hand, whether it be commutes, walkable neighborhoods, grocery stores, mechanics, food scene, houses versus condos, high rises versus an over 55+ community, etc. That inherent knowledge, she said, makes a true difference for her clients.
“If you’re working in the Med Center all day and need to get home to your family in time to attend Little League games, your commute matters to me and I want to find the shortest commute to the best neighborhood and find the nicest home available which fits the buyer,” she said.
Villarreal shared, “I feel like my superpower is being able to find a home for anyone. I know the city really well and I am well-equipped to dig in and find that perfect home for each person. I really enjoy the hunt.”
But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t enjoy showing and listing homes, too. “Open houses,” she said, “are another avenue for sharing stories of Houston’s amazing evolution or highlighting things people might want to know about a certain neighborhood.”
“Because I’m a people person, it’s always an adventure to meet folks coming through the open houses,” Villarreal said.
Though things are starting to return to normal with regards to COVID-19, Villarreal said her inherent desire to be a calm, guiding force for buyers and sellers has been especially crucial over the last couple of years as everyone dealt with uncertainty and extra stress.
After all, the process of buying or selling a home can be a stressful one under even the best conditions, and she aims to reduce the stress.
“It gives me a feeling of peace to know I’ve done my best to help clients understand what they are getting into and to eliminate surprises with regard to mortgage requirements or understanding third party home inspections, etc. It’s who I am,” she said. “Educating your clients is so important – otherwise, they’re more stressed and anxious. The more they know, the more confident they feel and the better experience they have. I always tell people that no question is silly, because buying or selling is a big life change and there is so much information to wade through. Ask questions!”
And after all these years, after all the hunts for the best fit and all through the pandemic – Villarreal’s business did not slow down during the pandemic – one thing has not changed: the joy she feels when seeing the end result. Villarreal, who wrote a weekly column for The Leader for 12 years called “Neighbors,” simply cherishes the opportunity to help people realize their dream.
“It is such a cool feeling when people are grinning ear-to-ear, collecting the keys to their new house at closing, and ready to run out and start moving their things in,” she said. “And just the opposite, with listings, sometimes people need to sell property in order to make a necessary life change, which in and of itself is challenging. The best part of those transactions is seeing a person’s life change for the better; stress lifted off their shoulders at closing.”
For more information about buying or selling property, you may call Villarreal at 832-712-1320 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is part of The Leader Realtor Showcase series, where real estate professionals pay for editorial content about their services in the community. If you’d like to be spotlighted in the Realtor Showcase, contact us at 713-686-8494.