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Your Austin real estate blog

Thank you for visiting Homeowner Herald, the official blog of AustinHomeSearch.com, 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.

April 2010

Austin real estate blog
home buying
Taking the stress out of moving with pets
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 28, 2010

 

Moving into a new Austin home is an exciting time for you and your family, but it can be very stressful for your pets. It's important to clearly think through how you will handle your pet's adjustment to its new home.

Before your pet moves into the new house, do a safety perimeter check. Are there any plants in the yard that may be poisonous? Is the fence secure? Also check the inside of your home for potential safety hazards and decide where your pet's food and bedding will be kept that you won't confuse your pet by moving those items later. Try to imagine every situation from your pet's point of view and deal with it before it becomes an issue.

When moving to Austin from out of town, you may want to consider a pet relocation service, which will arrange for door-to-door transportation including pet-friendly flights, climate-controlled vehicles, boarding services, veterinary services and more. If you are relocating due to a job transfer, check to see if this is can be covered by your employer.

Even if you're moving to an Austin home from within Central Texas, you may consider boarding your pet for a day or two while executing the actual move. The commotion, the changing environment and the new people (movers) in your house can put undue stress on your pet. Boarding your pet will allow you to concentrate entirely on the move and relax knowing that your pet won't be underfoot or running out the front door.

Once you've moved into the new home, try to keep your pet's surroundings as familiar as possible. Let your dog or cat have its old blanket, its favorite toy and its same food. Take time to walk your pet around your new Austin neighborhood or release some pent-up energy at the nearest dog park. Sitting down and petting your dog or cat is the easiest way to assure them that everything is fine and if you put your feet up, you'll feel better too.

Finally, it's important to update your pet's microchip information right away so that you'll be contacted if your pet has been lost and found. And always remember: Pets are resilient, so it shouldn't be too long before your cat or dog is ruling the roost once again!

Austin real estate blog
home improvement
Make every day an “Earth Day” in your home
THURSDAY, APRIL 22, 2010

 

 

Happy Earth Day! This seems the appropriate day to congratulate Austin on being one of the most "earth-friendly" cities in America. It also seems appropriate to talk a bit about "going green" within your home. The following options can help you create a safer, cleaner and more economical home for you and your family.

Energy Star appliances - These appliances are designated as "energy efficient" by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy. Purchasing an Energy Star appliance will not only help you save on energy costs, it may help earn you a rebate, as well. The City of Austin's WashWise Rebate Program offers some homeowners rebates on the purchase of high efficiency clothes washers.

Energy efficient windows - Energy efficient windows can lower the cost of heating and cooling by more than 30 percent, as well as reduce condensation, make your home more comfortable, and help shield the interior of your home from powerful ultraviolet rays. In addition, homeowners who install energy efficient windows could claim a tax credit of up to $1,500.

PEX plumbing - This is a safe, durable and affordable plumbing solution that involves no copper or iron and maintains long-term viability. PEX tubing does not corrode, reduces condensation in walls and-best of all-is environmentally friendly.

Non-toxic paint - Until recently, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which release low-level toxic emissions into the air, were essential to the performance paint. Now, however, homeowners can choose from low-VOC or zero-VOC paints that are durable, cost-effective and more environmentally friendly.

These suggestions are just the beginning! Energy efficient improvements can be a simple as using compact fluorescent light bulbs, which use 66 percent less energy than a standard incandescent light bulb and can last 10 times longer. Talk to your REALTOR® about ways you can improve the value of your home and the quality of your environment by "going green."

 

 

Austin real estate blog
home improvement, home selling
Boost curb appeal with a little flower power
THURSDAY, APRIL 15, 2010

 

Planting flowers can be a great way to boost the curb appeal of your Austin home. While the planting process seems simple enough, there are a several important tips you should keep in mind.

1. Do your research. Above all, it is important to find out which types of flowers will grow in best in your yard and when to plant them. Some flowers need plenty of sunlight, while others must have shade at all times. Some flowers need to be watered every day, while others can survive on rainfall alone. Make sure you have the time, resources and proper environment to care for your plants.

2. Prepare the soil. After you've removed all weeds from your garden, it's time to think about enriching the soil. Mixing organic matter such as compost, manure and shredded leaves into the first one to two feet of soil can help enrich the clay-like soil found in many parts of Central Texas.

3. Plant the flowers. After you dig the holes, fill them with water and let it soak into the soil before placing the flowers in them. When planting the flowers, ignore the urge to pack down the soil or step on it to make it flat; flattening the soil cuts off the light and oxygen. Adding a few inches of mulch to the top layer of soil can be beneficial, but make sure the mulch is placed around the plants and does not touch their stems.

4. Remember to water. Watering is essential, but too much water can be deadly. Make sure you know the watering requirements for the types of flowers you have planted. Be aware that watering the leaves of plants can help diseases and mildew grow, so it's important to water plants at ground-level, closest to the roots.

For more tips, visit http://www.centraltexasgardening.net or talk to the local gardening experts in your neighborhood. Happy planting!

 

Austin real estate blog
REALTORS®
The truth about REALTORS®
TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2010

Is truth stranger than fiction? Sometimes. The following information sets the story straight on common misconceptions about REALTORS®…The facts may surprise you.

Misconception #1: All real estate agents are REALTORS®. Nope. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), only about half of real estate agents are REALTORS®. Unlike agents licensed only by the state, REALTORS® have taken additional steps to become members of their professional real estate association, which means they must adhere to NAR's continuing education requirements and Code of Ethics.

Misconception #2: REALTORS® are rich. That depends on your definition of "rich." According to NAR's 2009 Member Profile, the median gross annual income of REALTORS® in 2008 was $36,700. REALTORS® with two years or less experience earned a median gross income of $8,600, while those in the business for at least 16 years earned a median income of $53,900.

Misconception #3: REALTORS® don't have to work long or hard to earn their pay. False. REALTORS® can perform more than 180 services for clients. A REALTOR®'s work day extends beyond the hours of "9 - 5" and well into the weekend. To ensure that processes go smoothly and informed decisions are made, REALTORS® spend many hours performing "invisible" work: running reports, researching public records, scouting neighborhoods, coordinating showings, preparing paperwork, negotiating offers, and the like.

Misconception #4: The homebuyer pays the commission of the buyer's agent. Not usually. In most situations, an exclusive buyer's agent's commission actually comes from the seller's commission in what is called a "co-fee." This means that the buyer's agent typically works for the same commission that is paid by the seller and split with the seller's listing agent.

Misconception #5: There's no point in using a REALTOR® when you can search for homes online. Wrong again. Aside from the fact that REALTORS® have access to listing information that may not be available online, REALTORS® can use their in-depth knowledge of the city to recommend neighborhoods best suited to clients' budget and personal preferences that clients may have never considered during their initial online search. In addition, the robust market statistics, education and professional networks that REALTORS® bring to the table can prove invaluable when it comes to making offers, handling negotiations, securing financing and more.

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