How are you making sure you are getting the lowest fair price for contractors in Houston? Is there a place to find them?
Your first question has a lot to unpack, because you ask about low pricing and fair pricing:
1) To ensure fair pricing, two things: First, get recommendations of contractors from others that can speak from direct experience (ask agents, others here on BP, etc.) Did the contractor do previous work at market-competitive prices? Did the contractor show up on time, did they work all day? Was quality good or was rework required? Did the contractor constantly look for ways to submit change orders for extra work, increasing costs? Most RE Agents have their own go-to list of trusted contractors.
Second, get multiple bids. If you have the time, get 3-4 bids for all major scopes of work (i.e., focus your effort on the areas where most of your repair money will be going - new roof, new floors, siding, exterior/interior paint, etc.). Yes it takes time, but you are just starting out, and this will give you a sense of where market rates currently sit. For smaller scopes of work, it may be in the interest of time to not get multiple bids - you'll have to be the judge on that trade-off between speed and market price certainty.
2) Regarding lowest price: Even with multiple bids, you can never know if you are getting the LOWEST price (there could always be someone else willing to do the job for slightly less), but honestly, while that may be what you want, it might not always be what you need. In my day job (not Real Estate, but I do deal with contractors of all sorts), I typically focus on getting the best VALUE - which I think of as highest technical quality at the lowest total cost -- and this is not always the same as the lowest price. In a very simple example, if Contractor A is 5% higher than Contractor B, but can guarantee a shorter overall schedule without sacrificing quality, that may argue in favor of Contractor A, even at the slightly higher price (because the unit could be ready for a tenant faster).
Hope this helps.