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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 selling topics

Austin real estate blog
 
Flawless floors: Key to a clean home
THURSDAY, JUNE 17, 2010

Clean floors can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of your home-especially to potential buyers who can pick up on the smallest details. While lower-traffic areas, such as guest bedrooms, can be maintained on the monthly basis, entryways, kitchens, living rooms and other high-traffic floor areas should be tended to at least once a week. Below are weekly cleaning tips for various types of flooring

For hardwood floors, first use a broom or vacuum to pick up dust and dirt. Next, go over the floor with a damp mop, as excessive water is damaging to wood. Linda Cobb, The Queen of Clean®, recommends adding several tea bags to hot mop water for a healthy, inexpensive way to clean wood.

For tile and vinyl floors, also sweep or vacuum away dust and dirt first. Then, experts recommend mixing a tablespoon of Borax with a gallon of water to use for mopping. A gallon of plain, warm water also works well. Use a micro-fiber mop on ceramic tile floors for best results and stay away from vinegar-based cleaning products, which can damage your grout.

For carpet, it's helpful to vacuum high-traffic areas more than once a week-perhaps even daily if you're in the process of showing your home. Cleaning experts recommend sectioning your carpet into quadrants and vacuuming each section entirely before moving to the next. Go over these sections multiple times, moving slowly to ensure you pick up as much dirt as possible. The most frequently used areas of carpet should be vacuumed in a criss-cross, overlapping pattern. It's also helpful to take care of spots and spills as they occur.

Tending to floors on a regular basis will help you avoid scrambling to clean up age-old stains or thick layers of dust and dirt before guests arrive in your home. Following the tips above will help you achieve flawless floors in no time!

Austin real estate blog
2010 Austin real estate market: First quarter review
WEDNESDAY, MAY 12, 2010

The first quarter of 2010 put forth a solid performance from the Austin real estate market. While home sales increased modestly during January and February, year-over-year Austin home sales increased a remarkable 27 percent in March, bringing the total amount of homes sold in the first quarter to 3,749 - a 12 percent increase over the first quarter of 2009. The median price of Austin homes remained relatively unchanged from one year ago, ending the quarter at $180,000.

Pending sales, which indicate the number of homes expected to sell in the next couple of months, remained elevated during the first quarter, increasing 7 percent in January, 24 percent in February and 31 percent in March 2010. These increases bode well for the Austin real estate market.

In the face of increasing sales volume, the Austin real estate market maintains a healthy inventory of homes. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University cites 6.5 months of inventory as a balanced market, meaning demand for homes is evenly balanced with inventory of homes for sale. At the end of the first quarter, Austin held a 6.4 month supply of homes.

For more information on the Austin real estate market and how it may affect your buying or selling situation, contact your Central Texas REALTOR®.

Austin real estate blog
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

Six affordable ways to stage your home
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10, 2010

Presenting an attractive home to potential buyers can greatly increase your chances of selling your house quickly. Try the following tips:

1. Float the furniture. Though it may seem natural to push furniture against the walls, try "floating" the furniture to make more intimate spaces for conversation. Lisa LaPorta, designer on HGTV's Designed to Sell, recommends visualizing a figure-eight or the letter H and placing furniture in that pattern. Just remember to create clear pathways for traffic to help the flow of the room.

2. Work those windows. Window dressings can serve as the perfect accent to any room. If the room is small, consider opaque curtains, which allow more light to shine through and give the room a bigger feel. If your windows are narrow, extend the curtain rods about a foot on each side to give an illusion of width. Remember that curtains featuring vertical patterns create an elongated effect; this style compliments most windows in a home.

3. Love that color. Painting is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to revive a home. Keep in mind that painting walls with a rich color can make the spaces more intimate, dramatic and cozy, while lighter, paler shades help rooms appear more spacious. When in doubt, go neutral.

4. Re-hang invisible art. Instead of hanging art along an invisible line encircling each room, consider hanging pieces in diagonal, triangular or vertical patterns. Michael Friedes, a stager with Nest Home Design, says this creates visual interest and can help direct the eye toward interesting features in a room, such as a bay window or high ceilings.

5. Accessorize in threes. When creating displays for table tops, shelves, walls and other spaces around your home, experts recommend accessorizing in odd numbers - especially groups of three-and grouping objects by unifying elements, such as color or texture. Display items of various heights and widths with the largest objects in the back.

6. Get some flower power. Seasonal flowers help a home appear fresh, clean and beautiful. Whether you showcase budding magnolia clippings in spring or holly branches in winter, there are beautiful arrangements to display in any season. You can't make mistakes when arranging flowers, so remember to get creative and have fun!

Know that your REALTOR® has a powerful network of industry professionals and can help find a professional stager to meet your needs, should you decide to go that route. For more tips on how to improve the appearance and increase the value of your Austin home, visit the "Consumer Tools" section of AustinHomeSearch.com.

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