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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.

Home buying topics

Austin real estate blog
Low mortgage rates continue: Is it the right time to buy?
FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2012

It’s in the news and on the minds of most everyone involved in the business of buying and selling homes: mortgage rates. It’s true, as the economy shows encouraging signs of growth, mortgage rates remain at an all-time low. Freddie Mac lists a few facts that contribute to why buying a home looks as attractive as it does right now. The following numbers are for the week ending March 1, 2012:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.90 percent. Last year at this time the 30-year FRM averaged 4.87 percent.
  • 15-year FRM averaged 3.17 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.15 percent.
  • Five-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 2.83 percent. A year ago, the five-year ARM averaged 3.72 percent.
  • One-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.72 percent. At this time last year, the one-year ARM averaged 3.23 percent.

According to Freddie Mac, these numbers show that mortgage rates are staying near their 60-year lows, which positively impacts home affordability. While it’s true that you should be prepared to answer more questions now than you would have if you were seeking a loan in 2008 and have your credit score analyzed more carefully, “it’s not as hard as it sounds,” Kenton Brown, president of the Austin Mortgage Bankers Association explained in a recent interview with Impact News. “It is more difficult than it was four years ago. Then, you had a fog and mirror, and you got a loan. But 10 years ago, this wasn’t unusual.” Brown went on to say that mortgage lenders and insurers alike are beginning to provide support more readily for potential home buyers.

A press release issued by the Austin Board of REALTORS® last month stated that January of 2012 saw 1,051 single-family homes sold, which is 10 percent more than January 2011. In many cases, the price is right for folks to make the move from renting to buying an Austin home.

To learn more about whether now may be the right time for you to buy a home in Austin, talk with your Central Texas REALTOR® or find a REALTOR® on AustinHomeSearch.com.

Austin real estate blog
New HUD rule expands protections to LGBT individuals
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 8, 2012

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced recently that new regulations have been put in place to ensure equal housing opportunities for those who may previously have been discriminated against due to sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or marital status.

The final rule, effective March 5, 2012, will affect several programs that fall under HUD’s directive, including Federal Housing Administration (FHA) mortgage insurance programs and community development programs. This rule was proposed in late January after HUD was advised that lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered (LGBT) individuals and families who were otherwise qualified for HUD-assisted or –insured housing were not receiving equal access.

Going forward, the owners and operators of such housing will be prohibited from denying housing based on an applicant’s LGBT status. Furthermore, inquiries regarding sexual orientation or gender identity will be prohibited. “The proposed rule clarified that families, who are otherwise eligible for HUD programs, may not be excluded because one or more members of the family may be LGBT or perceived to be LGBT.” Furthering housing equality is a priority to HUD because it is the Nation’s only agency that “is charged with promoting the federal goal of providing decent housing and a suitable living environment for all.”

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) worked closely with HUD throughout the development of this rule and will remain involved to ensure its successful implementation and that LGBT renters and homebuyers are aware of these new protections. 

Austin real estate blog
Austin housing forecast: Skies continue to clear in 2012
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2012

The Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR) and the Home Builders Association (HBA) of Greater Austin hosted the annual Housing Forecast on January 12, welcoming a crowd of 750 interested Austin residents and real estate professionals. The overarching message from industry experts was hopeful: “For 2012, Metrostudy expects new home production in the Austin region to increase for the second straight year,” said Director of the Austin Market for Metrostudy, Eldon Rude. New home starts are up from last year, and the job market in Austin is improving. Our growing population paired with a shrinking low-cost rental supply all point to a growing housing market in Central Texas.

Industry experts are not naïve; they shared some logical concerns, and issues to be aware of. Dr. Greg Hallman from The University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business could not gloss over the economic crisis in Europe, stating that while European leaders have avoided disaster to date, investors world-wide remain cautious. KXAN’s Chief Weathercaster Jim Spencer brought the continuing Central Texas drought into perspective for the audience. “Even during the drought of record, there were several rainy periods, and it is expected this extended drought will be no different, even if it lasts for years. In short, the adage, ‘if you don’t like the weather in Texas, wait five minutes’ really can still apply.”

Overall the 2012 Housing Forecast had encouraging news for Austin homeowners. Compared to national and global markets, the Austin area continues to remain a bright spot on the map, with job and housing markets expected to continue their positive trends in the coming year. Though current drought conditions continue to impact homeowners, home builders and truly all those living in Central Texans, we are reminded that Texas weather conditions can change in an instant and one day of intense rainfall could wipe out the rain deficit, as has happened in the past. Without a doubt, Austin is ‘poised for greatness’ in 2012.


Austin real estate blog
ConsumerVue Report: Austin renters becoming first-time buyers
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2012

As part of their ConsumerVue segments, KVUE News showcases REALTOR® expertise each month to update their viewers on the latest happenings in the Austin real estate market. Leonard Guerrero, Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, appeared last week on ConsumerVue and discussed the recent trend of home renters more seriously considering homeownership as rental rates rise.

Because mortgage rates are at an all-time low, this is a great time to sit down with a Central Texas REALTOR® to discuss making an exciting move towards home ownership. Texas Home Programs and Texas Real Estate have more information.

You can hear more of Chairman Guerrero’s tips for first-time homeowners by watching his ConsumerVue interview on KVUE.com.



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