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Your Austin real estate blog

Thank you for visiting Homeowner Herald, the official blog of, providing valuable information for both home buyers and sellers. Follow us on Twitter or check in each week for new posts on topics ranging from holiday decorating to the economy to moving into your new home. This blog is maintained by the Austin Board of REALTORS®. If you’d like to suggest a blog topic, contact the ABoR Marketing Department.

Austin Life topics

Austin real estate blog
New changes to Austin’s energy efficiency ordinance

In June 2009, the Austin City Council approved the Energy Conservation Audit Disclosure (ECAD) Ordinance. The aim of this ordinance was to make Austin homes more energy efficient, and it required some homeowners serviced by Austin Energy to have an energy audit performed on their home prior to selling. To date, more than 4,000 energy audits have been conducted on homes in Austin.

Recently, changes have been made to the ECAD Ordinance (effective May 2, 2011). Below is a rundown of the recent changes that affect residential properties.

  • Austin homeowners affected by the ECAD Ordinance must disclose energy audit results to a potential buyer no later than three days prior to the end of the option period defined in the sales contract. In the event that an option period is not available, the results must be disclosed before the sales contract is executed.
  • Condominiums are now subject to the ECAD Ordinance.
  • Multifamily properties whose energy usage is above 150 percent of the average usage for similar communities are required to reduce their energy consumption by 20 percent. In addition, it must be disclosed to potential tenants that the property uses a higher amount of energy than comparable properties.

Want to know whether you qualify for an energy audit? Visit Austin Energy's ECAD Audit Self Check page and fill out the form provided. For more information about the ECAD Ordinance and how it may affect you, talk to your Central Texas REALTOR®.

Austin real estate blog
Outdoor adventure in Austin

The temperature in Austin is rising, which means that many Austinites will be spending more time outside soaking up the sun. If you're looking for some fun outdoor activities for you and your family, below are a few Austin hotspots to enjoy during the spring and summer months ahead.

Hamilton Pool - One of the oldest and most popular swimming holes in Texas, Hamilton Pool is about 30 miles southwest of Austin. Roughly 75,000 visitors come to Hamilton Pool each year for its hiking trails and 50 foot waterfall, which fills the swimming hole below. Weather and safety conditions permitting, Hamilton Pool is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.

Canoe/Kayak Rental - What better way to spend a sunny day than taking a peaceful boat ride across Lady Bird Lake or Lake Austin? Companies such as Austin Kayak, Rowing Dock and Zilker Park Boat Rental offer a variety of canoes and kayaks to rent at a daily rate. It's a great way to soak up some sun while enjoying Austin's natural beauty.

Mount Bonnell/Covert Park - Mount Bonnell has been a popular site for hiking fans in Austin since the 1850's. The trail is about 0.3 miles long and ends with a breathtaking view of Lake Austin at the peak of the mountain. The peak also features a man-made pavilion, perfect for afternoon picnics or resting after ascending the "100-step staircase." Like most parks in Austin, Mount Bonnell is open from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily.

Austin Segway Tours - If you're more of an urban explorer, perhaps a Segway tour will quench your thirst for adventure. Participants will discover many of Austin's defining locations while riding the two-wheeled, electric-powered vehicle. Visit the Texas State Capitol, Lady Bird Lake, the Congress Avenue "Bat Bridge" and other notable sites around downtown Austin. Companies that offer Segway tours in Austin include Segway Nation, SegCity and GlidingRevolution.

These are just some of the fun things you can do outdoors in the Austin area. For more great information, visit

Austin real estate blog
South by Southwest: 25 years strong

If it's March in Austin, then residents know that nearly 30,000 people from Austin and all over the world will be flocking downtown for the annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conferences and festivals. This year's SXSW will run from March 11 - 20, with events scheduled from the early morning until well into the night throughout the festival's ten-day run. Below is a rundown of the festival's three components.

Now in its 25th year, the SXSW music festival continues to serve as a springboard for independent artists to share their creative works with music lovers and record labels alike.

SXSW's music festival does more than just showcase local talent - the event draws bands from all across the globe. Canja Rave, a rock group from Porto Alegre, Brazil, was met with an enthusiastic crowd during their performance at SXSW in 2010. The band felt that the best part of SXSW is "the cultural diversity and the interest of the public in meeting new artists, no matter how big they are."

Aside from concerts, SXSW also has musically themed exhibitions, such as the Texas Guitar Show. Free to the public, this event features thousands of guitar enthusiasts looking to buy, sell, trade or have their guitars appraised.

The film component of SXSW allows independent filmmakers to screen their art to an audience consisting of movie-buffs, industry bigwigs and other independent filmmakers. It also includes a film conference that allows filmmakers to sit in on discussion groups about the latest trends in the movie industry and network with fellow professionals.

Many critically acclaimed movies have premiered at the SXSW film festival. For example, Kathryn Bigelow's film The Hurt Locker captivated audiences at the 2009 SXSW film festival. Since then, the film went on to win six Academy Awards and earned Bigelow the distinct honor of being the first woman to receive the Best Director award.

SXSW also features an interactive component that showcases the latest technology innovations, such as mobile phone developments and new video games.

This component is a hub for presentations, discussion groups and workshops covering a variety of topics, from environmental issues to business applications. Many famous individuals have spoken at SXSW Interactive, including Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, and Al Franken, a famous writer, radio personality and currently a United States Senator.

One of the most popular events of SXSW Interactive is the ScreenBurn Arcade, where visitors can try out the latest video game demos and mingle with some of the industry's top developers and publishers. Best of all, it's completely free!

Registration badges are required to attend most of SXSW's events, which can be purchased at SXSW's website. However, there are several free events to choose from as well, from film screenings to music concerts and much more.

Austin real estate blog
Good eats in the streets: Austin’s trailer food

As many Austinites will point out, some of the best food in the Texas' capital city is not found in a restaurant; it is found out in the street. Food trailers are stationed throughout Austin, where both visitors and residents line up to get big flavor from a small kitchen.

More than just your typical hot dog or ice cream stands, the items served in Austin's food trailers range from Indian cuisine to cupcakes to vegan dishes and more. Austin's food trailer culture has made an impact nationwide, capturing the attention of The New York Times, as well as Southern Living Magazine. Below are just six of the popular food trailers found in Austin.

Over a year ago, chefs Kayo and Také Asazu brought the concept of a "sushi-bar-on-wheels" to life with the creation of Sushi-A-Go-Go. This trailer presents a variety of sushi rolls, including the Krab salad roll, with krab salad and avocado, and the Fat Samurai roll, which features five different types of fish and is a favorite of the Austin American-Statesman. Sushi-A-Go-Go also offers catering service, call-in orders and even cooking classes, where the two chefs teach basic fish-cutting and rice-making techniques in the comfort of their client's homes.

Conscious Cravings
Recently mentioned in Austin Monthly, Conscious Cravings specializes in vegetarian hot wraps and salads. If pan-seared tofu, grilled portabella mushrooms and spicy chickpeas sound like heaven, then welcome to paradise! For a healthy drink on the go, Conscious Cravings offers organic blueberry lemonade, organic teas and fresh fruit smoothies with a serving of flax seeds. And to top it all off, Conscious Cravings is happy to make deliveries, bringing healthy vegetarian meals right to your doorstep.

Near the intersection of East Seventh Street and Trinity is Kebabalicious, which serves European-Turkish street food. Kebabalicious has received critical acclaim from such local publications as the Austin American-Statesman and the Austin Chronicle. Vegetarians and meat lovers alike can find something to enjoy, from their Turk salad or hummus pita to their chicken, beef and lamb kebabs, all freshly prepared and moderately priced.

One of the newest trailers in Austin, Cazamance has many hearty dishes with Senegalese, Moroccan and French influences, all designed to bring West-African flavor to the streets of Austin. Patrons can choose from Yassa chicken, lamb sausage, hummus or roasted vegetables served in a wrap, a bed of rice or a bunny chow (a square bread pocket deriving from African cusine). After enjoying any of these wonderful combinations, Austin Monthly recommends trying the fresh young coconut to put a sweet finish on a healthy meal.

Torchy's Tacos
A distinct entry in the Austin TexMex scene, Torchy's Tacos serves up experimental taco dishes that have taken the city by storm. What started as a food trailer has since expanded to include several dine-in locations found throughout Austin, earning Torchy's consistent praise from the Austin Chronicle several years in a row. Favorites of the Austin Chronicle include the Baja Shrimp taco (with the main ingredients being fried shrimp and cooked cabbage slaw) and The Ranch Hand (where scrambled eggs meets grilled skirt steak).

The Peached Tortilla
Aiming to break free from the norm, The Peached Tortilla cooks what can best be described as a fusion of Japanese cuisine and Southern recipes. On the menu, you will find barbeque brisket sliders (with jalapeño slaw and peach barbeque sauce) sitting alongside banh mi pork tacos (featuring Vietnamese braised pork belly, pickled daikon and carrot salad), the latter of which is a favorite of Austin Monthly. The Peach Tortilla's Belgian fries are not to be missed either, especially when they are dipped in one of their delicious sauces, such as peach mint, bacon ranch or truffle mayo, just to name a few.

Of course, this is just a handful of the scrumptious street food that can be found in Austin. To learn more about Austin's many food trailers, visit or

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