About Us
Find a Property
Community Info
fill fill
House Number
fill fill
fill fill fill fill
fill fill fill
Street Name
fill fill fill
fill fill fill
Zip Code
fill fill fill
fill fill fill
MLS Number
fill fill fill
You can enter multiple MLS Numbers separated by a comma.
fill fill
Agent Name
fill fill
fill fill fill
fill fill fill

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.

Home buying topics

Austin real estate blog
The basics of homeowners insurance

Buying a home will likely be the biggest investment you'll ever make in your life. With that said, it's important to keep your investment safe in case an unfortunate event occurs. Although you can legally own a home without homeowners insurance, chances are your mortgage lender will require you to purchase a policy. Below is a basic overview of homeowners insurance.

Do the words "deductible" or "premium" make you draw a blank? The following is a brief glossary of terms commonly associated with homeowners insurance:

  • A peril is a specific type of damage or loss defined in your insurance policy (such as fire, theft, hail, etc.).
  • A premium is the price of coverage for a particular type of peril. Premiums are often set for a specific period of time.
  • A claim is a request to the insurance company to be reimbursed for lost or damaged property.
  • A deductible is the amount of money you must pay to a loss before any payment is due from your insurance company.
  • Replacement cost is the amount of money required to fix or rebuild your home in the event of a disaster.
  • Deprecation refers to the decrease in value of your home due to damage or natural wear and tear.
  • Actual cash value takes the replacement cost of your property and subtracts deprecation.

 Didn't find the term you were looking for? The Texas Department of Insurance provides a comprehensive glossary of home insurance terms to help you understand what's defined in your policy.

Unlike most states, Texas has its own brand of insurance policies. The following is a list of home insurance policies offered in Texas:

1. HO-A policy - The HO-A policy is the cheapest policy for which you can apply. It offers coverage for a very limited and specific amount of perils. If you choose this policy, be sure to read the document carefully so you understand exactly what is (and isn't) covered. HO-A policies only offer actual cash value coverage.

2. HO-B policy - The HO-B policy offers coverage for most perils that can affect your property, which are specifically noted on the document. Keep in mind that some Texas insurance companies do not offer HO-B policies.

3. HO-A amended policy - HO-A amended policies offer a middle-ground option between the HO-A policy and the HO-B policy. In other words, you'll get more coverage out of an HO-A amended policy than a standard HO-A policy, but less coverage than an HO-B policy. As with the other two policies, perils covered by HO-A amended policies are specifically defined in the document.

4. HO-C policy - HO-C covers "open perils," meaning that it provides coverage for any type of damage or loss to your property (as long as it isn't specifically excluded in your document). Because of this, HO-C policies tend to be the most expensive of all the policies provided by Texas insurance companies.

Note: HO-A, HO-B and HO-C policies are considered "standardized." This means that each policy must use the same terminology and provide the same coverage, regardless of which insurance provider you choose. The HO-A amended policy, however, is not standardized.

A typical Texas homeowners insurance policy will provide the following types of coverage:

1. Dwelling Coverage (Coverage A) covers damage affecting the structure of your home. This type of coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy (also known as a Dwelling Policy).

2. Other Structure Coverage (Coverage B) covers damage affecting structures not attached to your home, such as a tool shed, guest house or detached garage.

3. Personal Property Coverage (Coverage C) covers damaged or stolen personal belongings in your home, such as jewelry, furniture or home appliances.

4. Loss of Use Coverage (Coverage D) covers your living expenses in the event that your home becomes temporarily uninhabitable. These can include hotel charges, restaurant bills and car storage.

5. Personal Liability Coverage (Coverage E) reimburses you in the event that you are liable for a nonresident who is injured on your property. It also covers damage caused to a nonresident's personal property while on your property.

It's important to note that homeowners insurance policies will vary from person to person, based on the size, age and location of your home, as well as other factors. For more information about Texas homeowners insurance, visit the website for the Texas Department of Insurance.

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
2011 Austin real estate market: First quarter review

The first quarter of 2011 was marked by stable home prices and a healthy inventory of homes in Austin's real estate market. Compared to 2010, the median price for Austin homes increased by six percent in January, two percent in February and two percent in March of 2011, landing at $185,260 at the close of the first quarter.

A total of 3,631 homes were sold during the first three months of 2011, three percent fewer homes than were sold during the same period the previous year. Austin's month's supply of inventory ranged from 5.4 to 6.2 months, whereas national figures ranged from 7.5 to 8.5 months. According to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, 6.5 months of inventory indicates a balanced market.

Judith Bundschuh, Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, noted, "Like all of 2011 thus far, we must recognize that month-to-month comparisons are still being influenced by the impact of last year's homebuyer tax credits. Thus, fluctuations in sales volume and listings compared to last year are to be expected."

For more information about the Austin real estate market and how it may affect you, contact your Central Texas REALTOR®.

Austin real estate blog
Backyard swimming pool: Is it the right choice for you?

For some homeowners, having an in-ground pool in their backyard is essential; it keeps them cool during the warmer months and provides a great location for parties and social gatherings. For others, however, a pool is seen as a money drainer that only serves to increase living expenses. If you're thinking about buying a home with a pool or installing a pool in your backyard, ask yourself the following questions.

How will a pool affect the value of my home?
Recent studies have shown that a backyard swimming pool can increase the value of your home, depending on the area in which you live. In Texas, the study found that a pool can increase a home's value by as much as 13 percent. Of course, speaking with a REALTOR® will help you best determine how a pool may affect your home's value.

Will buyers be interested in my home if I own a pool?
It's important to keep in mind that a backyard pool can be a deal breaker for some buyers. If buyers have young children, for example, they may feel a pool is a safety hazard. For others, however, a pool might be exactly what they're looking for. If your neighborhood doesn't have a community pool, your home may be more appealing if there's a private pool in the backyard.

Do I have the time and money to put into maintenance?
If you do decide to own a swimming pool, make sure you're prepared to maintain it. You'll need to keep the PH levels of the pool in balance and perform regular chemical treatments to ensure algae and bacteria don't develop. According to the Wall Street Journal, pool owners may need to budget $3,000 to $5,000 each year for general maintenance and repairs. Some repairs, such as resurfacing the tiles and plaster, can cost as much as $10,000.

Is it worth the cost?
Pool installations generally cost anywhere between $25,000 and $50,000. Even though you will likely find someone interested in owning your home, experts suggest that you won't recoup the cost of installing a backyard swimming pool.

Nevertheless, you may find that the expenses are worth it. Homeowners with a pool can take refreshing dips in the water when Texas temperatures climb up to 100 degrees or more. A pool can also provide a great backdrop for a house party, where guests can go swimming or simply relax outside enjoying the sights and sounds of the water.

Buying and maintaining a pool is expensive, but it can be a rewarding experience for you and your family. Be sure to discuss with your REALTOR® whether owning a swimming pool is the right choice for you.

Next Page >>

We are Your Advocate

Sign up for updates about your property rights.

Sign Up

Buying & Selling Tips

Learn about buying and selling Austin real estate.

Get Tips