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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.

Home selling topics

Austin real estate blog
Austin real estate market offers encouraging outlook for 2010

What began as a year with double-digit decreases in year-over-year home sales concluded with 2009 year-end totals falling only six percent short of the year prior. This comeback was made possible by the surge in home sales seen in the fourth quarter of 2009—a 38 percent increase in October and a 58 percent increase in November—possibly attributed to the original deadline for the first-time homebuyer tax credit.

Local economic conditions, housing trends and extended homeowner incentives lead most experts believe that the Austin housing market reached its bottom in 2009 and is now on the path of stabilization and recovery, though significant gains are not expected until the later part of 2010.

For further information on market conditions, contact your Central Texas REALTOR®.

Austin real estate blog
Five home-selling mistakes

When the time comes to say goodbye to your current home and you’re looking for a buyer, make sure to avoid these common selling mistakes:

Mistake #1: Pricing your home incorrectly - This is possibly the biggest mistake a home seller can make. Price the home too high, and your house could be the on the market for years; price the home too low, and you could lose thousands of dollars in profit. Working with a REALTOR® who is knowledgeable on comparable sales, market trends and homebuyer demand will help you stay on target when it comes to setting an appropriate asking price.

Mistake #2: Showing your home in poor condition - Not only can potential buyers be turned off by viewing a messy home, they can be discouraged by seeing the need for too many home repairs. Make sure faucets aren't leaking and all lights and appliances are working. Keep in mind that going above and beyond to add some fresh paint and update appliances can actually boost the value of your Austin real estate.

Mistake #3: Not responding to all offers - Recognize that selling your Austin home will likely take a bit of negotiation. Receiving an offer that isn't exactly what you had in mind doesn't mean a different price can't be agreed upon. That said, be sure to distinguish serious potential buyers from those who are unqualified or simply "Looky-Loos." Your REALTOR® can help weed out unrealistic buyers and negotiate offers.

Mistake #4: Not understanding the real estate contract - Because real estate contracts are legally binding documents, it's crucial to understand what you're agreeing to when you sign the papers. Are you agreeing to cover closing costs? To make additional repairs before moving out? Having your REALTOR® explain the legalese can help you avoid costly misunderstandings.

Mistake #5: Not having proper help - The value of REALTORS® extends far beyond their access to the Multiple Listings Service (MLS)-it lies in their robust statistics packages, marketing techniques, ethical service, and knowledge of legal and financial matters. Don't go it alone. Being able to rely on help from a real estate professional can save you time, trouble and money.

Austin real estate blog
Austin’s top 10 home remodeling paybacks

If you’re debating whether to invest in home remodeling, consider this: On a national level, most remodeling projects that recouped the greatest percentage of cost in 2009 were exterior improvements that cost less than $15,000.

Results from the 2009 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report produced by Hanley Wood, LLC, show remodeling projects that boost curb appeal, increase energy efficiency and put the home in move-in condition have proved popular with buyers during trying economic times.

Nationwide the biggest returns were seen with the addition of a steel entry door (128.9 percent of costs recouped), upscale fiber-cement siding (83.6 percent of costs recouped) and a wooden deck (80.6 percent of costs recouped).

On a local level, Austin homeowners saw a return on their investments not only in smaller-scale exterior improvements, but in significant indoor renovations. What’s even better news for Central Texans is that Texas and other southwestern states outperform most of the nation in terms of remodeling costs recovered upon resale, according to the Cost vs. Value Report.

Below are some of the remodeling projects that yielded the biggest returns for Austin homeowners in 2009:

  • Steel entry door replacement (120.7%)
  • Attic bedroom remodel (97.4%)
  • Basement remodel (92.0%)
  • Vinyl window replacement (85.3%)
  • Fiber-cement siding replacement (82.5%)
  • Major kitchen remodel (81.3%)
  • Grand Entrance (81.2%)
  • Minor kitchen remodel (79.8%)
  • Wood window replacement (79.3%)
  • Foam-backed vinyl siding replacement (78.3%)

For more information on home remodeling, contact your Central Texas REALTOR®.

Austin real estate blog

5 real estate market myths exposed!

Fact or fiction? Find out which statements are complete myths when it comes to Austin’s real estate market.

1. Home prices have decreased dramatically. Wrong! Data from the Austin Board of Realtors® shows that median price levels have remained stable while gradually increasing—for example, a median price of $175,500 seen at the start of this year (January 2009) had become $185,250 by the end of the third quarter (September 2009). In addition, median prices seen throughout 2009 have fluctuated only slightly compared to 2008 while remaining above those seen in 2007.

2. It’s the wrong time to buy real estate. False! Thanks to its job market, stable home prices and affordability, Austin has the second healthiest housing market in the nation. There are plenty of homes available, and those ready to buy can take advantage of homebuyer tax credits, housing grants, low interest rates and renewable energy incentives.

3. It’s the right time for everybody to buy real estate. Nope! Whether it’s a good time to buy depends not only on the local housing market, but on the goals and unique situation of each person. Someone who is neither emotionally nor financially ready to handle homeownership should not enter into a real estate transaction—even when the market presents good opportunities. Talk to your REALTOR® to make the decision that’s right for you.

4. It’s a terrible time to sell. Wrong again! Austin real estate is sold every day to first-time and seasoned homebuyers looking to take advantage of amazing homeownership opportunities and incentives. In addition, sellers who work with a REALTOR® can usually sell their homes more quickly…in any market.

5. More homes are being sold by owners, making REALTORS® obsolete. No way! In the Austin area area, the percentage of people who planned to use a REALTOR® rose to 82 percent in 2008. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) the majority of For-Sale-By-Owner (FSBO) sellers are located in rural areas and small towns where the seller knows the buyer. It’s important to recognize that the value of REALTORS® goes beyond their access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)—it lies in the many other resources and services they bring to the table.

Central Texas real estate is different. Get the facts from your REALTOR® today or Find a REALTOR® on

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