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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.

December

Austin real estate blog
home buying, home selling,home improvement
Home inspections: Frequently asked questions
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 14, 2011

Whether you’re in the process of buying or selling a home, the idea of getting a home inspection will likely come up. A home inspection involves an expert examining the condition of a house, checking for flaws in both the structure and the built-in systems. But are these inspections necessary? And what happens if a problem is found? We answer these questions and more below.

What does the home inspection cover?
A home inspection will examine the condition of items including the air conditioning and heating system, roof, foundation, ceilings, floors, walls, attic, basement, doors, windows and visible structure. Depending on the inspector, additional systems and features, such as swimming pools, will also be inspected.

Can I perform a home inspection myself?
Only a professional home inspector can perform an official examination. Although you may be well versed in home building and know key items to look for, a licensed inspector will have far more experience with the process, present an unbiased opinion and may identify issues you might not have considered.

Why should a home inspection be performed?
A home inspection will shed light on the current condition of a property, exposing any issues that may require routine maintenance or additional expense to resolve. Understanding the true state of a property is helpful for both the current homeowner, as well as those interested in buying the property.

Is a home inspection useful in the home buying/selling process?
Absolutely! A home inspection is a crucial part of the home buying and selling process. In most real estate transactions, the home buyer pays for the house to be inspected within a few days of signing a purchase agreement. However, as a seller, it’s not a bad idea to have an inspection performed before putting your home on the market, as the report could identify problems you need to disclose or repairs that could be made before your home is put up for sale. In addition, understanding the true condition of your home will help you and your REALTOR® determine a fair listing price.

Note: In accordance with Austin’s ECAD Ordinance, some Austin home sellers are required to have an energy audit performed on their home before selling their property. This process is separate from the home inspection.

What if the inspection reveals problems?
It’s common for home inspections to reveal minor issues in most properties—these are generally no cause for concern and can be easily resolved. However, if major problems are found, the buyer and seller will likely need to negotiate whether and when these problems will be fixed and who will pay for them. The seller may need to adjust the purchase price or contract conditions in the event that this occurs.

For more information about inspections and how they may affect your home buying or selling process, contact your Central Texas REALTOR®.

Austin real estate blog
home improvement
Holiday home decorating safety tips
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2011

‘Tis the season for festive decorating in neighborhoods all across Austin! Households will be stringing up lights, decorating trees and lighting candles. However you choose to decorate your Austin home, make sure you’re taking precautions to avoid any fire or electrical hazards. Below, we have laid out some basic, but important, holiday decorating safety tips.

Holiday lights
As with any electrical fixture, make sure that your lights are in good condition before plugging them in. If you find any cracked light sets or loose, exposed wires, buy a new set. Whether you’re purchasing new lights or reusing old sets, it’s a good idea to check for a tag indicating that they’ve have been approved by an inspection company. Finally, always make sure you turn off your lights when you’re away from home or asleep.

Festive trees
If you plan on decorating a tree, make sure that it doesn’t present a fire hazard. Keep the tree away from space heaters, a fireplace or anything that generates heat. A good rule of thumb is to place the tree three feet away from these items. Keeping your holiday tree fresh will help you avoid most, if not all, fire hazards that a holiday tree presents. Alternatively, if you’re using an artificial tree, make sure it’s flame resistant. In any case, verify that your tree is sturdy and balanced so that it doesn’t fall down.

Seasonal decorations
This time of year often calls for the use of candles as decorations. Make sure your candles are in stable holders and out of reach from pets and children. As always, it’s important to keep a watchful eye on the flame and to extinguish it when it’s no longer in use. Some households use flameless electronic candles as an alternative to avoid the fire hazards that traditional candles present. For other decorations such as ornaments or tinsel, only use those that are made with non-flammable materials.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that your holiday season is safe and fun. For more holiday decorating safety tips, visit these websites for the U.S. Fire Administration and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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