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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
Defining Austin real estate market statistics

If you've ever read the Austin Real Estate Report on, you've probably seen terms such as "year-to-date" and "inventory of homes." To help you decipher the real estate jargon and better understand the statistics shared from the Austin Board of REALTORS®' monthly Multiple Listing Service (MLS) reports, we've provided a glossary of terms commonly seen in real estate market reports.

Single-family homes - Though MLS reports track a wide variety of property statistics, including those regarding condominiums, townhouses and commercial properties, the general health of the Austin area real estate market is typically judged by the statistics regarding single-family homes. As the name implies, a single-family home belongs to one family and is a free-standing property with its own lot. These properties are what commonly come to mind when one thinks of a residential neighborhood property.

Median price - The median price listed on a monthly MLS report indicates the middle price point of homes sold in the past month. In other words, if home sale prices were listed from lowest to highest value, median price would be the number that falls in the middle of that list. The median price is usually referred to instead of average price, as the average price can easily be skewed by "outliers," such as a small number of very highly priced homes.

Active home sales - This term refers to property listings currently for sale on the market. Properties that are undergoing contract negotiations are not included in this figure.

Days on market (DOM) - This figure is indicates the time a property spent on the market---measured from the moment the property was listed to the point when the seller began contract negotiations.

Year-over-year - This measurement compares the market conditions from the month of the report to the same month the year prior. These statistics give readers a small snap-shot of where the real estate market stands in comparison to last year.

Year-to-date (YTD) - YTD measurements include overall market activity from the beginning of the year (January 1) to the date of the report's publication. Comparing year-to-date numbers for the current year and previous year illustrates how the overall activity seen this year compares to what we saw during the same time period last year.

It's important to use both year-over-year and year-to-date statistics to understand how this year's market compares to last. Year-over-year comparisons are useful in determining how the market is doing during expectantly high or low selling seasons, and big increases or decreases in the percent difference may indicate the influence of abnormal, outside factors and conditions.

Year-to-date figures are often a more meaningful measurement when comparing one year to another. For example, the same MLS report that shows home sales are down 15 percent year-over-year may also show that home sales are up seven percent year-to-date, indicating that the market is actually out-performing the previous year thus far.

Pending Home Sales - This term refers to listings that have sales contracts in the works. As most pending sales are likely to close in the next month, a spike in year-over-year pending home sales suggests we may see an increase in year-over-year sales the next month, although this is never a guarantee.

Month's Supply of Inventory (MSI) - MSI is a calculation of the time it would take to sell the current amount of active listings on the market, based on the average amount of sales made in the past 12 months. The resulting number of the calculation is considered a "leading" indicator of sales activity and market health.

According to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M, it would take about 6.5 months to sell the average amount of active listings in a balanced market. Anything above 6.5 MSI is considered to be a "buyer's market," while anything below is often considered a "seller's market."

These are just a handful of terms to help you understand what each MLS report conveys about the Austin real estate market. Be sure to speak with your Central Texas REALTOR® to clarify what these statistics mean and how they may affect your transactions, whether you are looking to buy or sell an Austin home. To stay abreast of the most recent market statistics in Central Texas, visit our Austin Real Estate Report section here at

Austin real estate blog
5 reasons we’re thankful to live in Austin, TX

There's no better time than the holiday season to remind ourselves of why we should be grateful. For Austinites, gratitude is easy to come by, as there are hundreds of reasons to love the Texas state capital. Below, we've narrowed down our list and chosen five reasons we're lucky to live in Austin, Texas.

This summer, Kiplinger ranked Austin No. 1 as the "Best City for the Next Decade." It's "best of" list sought to emphasize cities which "specialize in out-of-the-box thinking," having traits that encourage innovation in business, culture and technology. Kiplinger described Austin as "the country's best crucible for small business."

Economic Stability
Texas has fared much better than most states during these tough economic times. Newsweek noted that the "Texaplex"—Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston—is "the No 1. destination for job-seeking Americans." In addition, The Austin American-Statesman recently reported that the job market in the Austin area has remained strong throughout the past year, having added more than 18,000 jobs since November 2009. Austin also has a lower unemployment rate when compared to many other cities in and out of Texas.

Real Estate Strength
Historically, Austin's housing market has maintained its value quite well. For example, the average home purchased in December 2002 and sold six years later in December 2008 appreciated 20 percent. With some Austin mortgage payments requiring less than $800 a month, Austin was also voted No. 1 for affordable housing by U.S. News in 2010, and was named the second healthiest real estate market by Hanley Wood Market Intelligence in 2009.

Excellent Education
Austin is home to the University of Texas and seven other public and private universities, as well as 29 public school districts, 17 charter schools and 69 private schools. In September 2010, The American Institute for Economic Research placed Austin at No. 2 for best mid-sized college town in the country. The article highlighted a wide array of statistical data pertaining to Austin, including high degree attainment, student diversity and varied commuting options, as well as Austin's "ample arts, strong creative class and beating entrepreneurial heart."

Never-ending Fun
Last but not least, it's hard not to mention how much fun you can have in Austin! named Austin the No. 1 best city for young adults, citing the annual South by Southwest festival and its high population of 18–34 year olds (about 28 percent of the total population) as examples. However, the young–at–heart can find pleasure in Texas state capitol as well. ranked Austin as the 5th best place to retire, out–ranking 95 other cities.

Austin regularly receives praise from research groups and publications across the country, whether it be for our diverse music scene, our booming small business trade or our quirky culture and vibe. For more reasons to be thankful that we live in Austin, Texas, check out our Austin/Central Texas News section here at

We wish you and your family a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!

Austin real estate blog
Foreclosure freeze: What’s going on?

You may have heard about—or even been affected by—the recent foreclosure freeze and be wondering exactly what led to this situation and what it means for home buyers and sellers. If so, the following information may help share shed some light on the issue.

Earlier this month, Bank of America froze home foreclosure sales in all 50 states after reports indicated that employees of the lenders may have mishandled foreclosure documents. Other major lends such as JPMorgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage followed suit, though they limited the freeze to 23 states, not including Texas. The freeze was a response to allow these lenders time to review the foreclosure process and determine whether recent foreclosures were in accordance with state laws.

Suspicions are aimed at an illegal practice known as "robo-signing," which refers to signing an affidavit without adequately reviewing the document. The practice is called "robo-signing" because the documents are signed quickly, almost automatically, as if a computer performed the task. Without fully understanding the affidavit being signed, lenders risk placing foreclosures on homes without having the legal right to do so.

In Texas, a demand letter was sent to 30 mortgage banking and servicing institutions by the Texas Attorney General, requesting that they "suspend all foreclosures, all sales of properties previously foreclosed upon, and all evictions of persons residing in previously foreclosed upon properties." The letter's definitions of possible infringement includes "signing documents without reading them," and "filing documents with records attached that did not correctly reflect loan payments, charges and advances."

John Horton, Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, recently spoke to KVUE news in regards to this matter. For sellers with non-distressed assets, Horton noted that the situation may help them compete with foreclosures, as buyers may be less inclined to purchase properties affected by the foreclosure freeze. Horton also mentioned that the freeze shouldn't have a drastic effect on the Austin area, as only about five percent of the Austin market consists of foreclosed properties. However, Horton noted: "...for sellers, if they can wait to put their home on the market in the Spring, they probably should."

Recently, Bank of America and other banking institutions have begun lifting the freeze in many states. In states where the freeze has been lifted, court cases have been proceeding to determine the validity of foreclosures on a case-by-case basis. In states such as Texas, where judges don't sign off on foreclosures, the freeze is scheduled to continue for an undisclosed period of time.

For more information and updates on this issue, talk to your REALTOR® or visit the National Association of REALTORS® website at


Austin real estate blog

Safety tips for Austin home sellers

Typically, the process of selling your home will involve complete strangers entering your home during showings or open house events. While most people will tour your property with good intentions, the safety of you and your Austin real estate should always be a top priority. Though many REALTORS® will conduct showings and host open houses on behalf of their clients, remember to keep the following tips in the mind if you choose to be active in the home selling process:

Tip #1. Never agree to show anyone your home before you have verified the person’s telephone number.

Tip #2. Remove or lock away all valuables, personal documents and prescription medications before showing a home. Remember that prospective buyers will often open closets or drawers to get a feel for storage space, so remove any easily accessible objects that could serve as a temptation.

Tip #3. Consider having a sign-in sheet for those attending your open house, where visitors provide their addresses or driver license numbers. Ask your REALTOR® how he or she typically handles this situation.

Tip #4. When showing potential buyers your home, always follow them into each room instead of leading them. This helps you keep an eye on visitors and can prevent a situation in which you might become cornered without an easy exit.

Tip #5. Never disclose to potential buyers personal habits or schedules that would indicate the times you're usually away from your home.

Tip #6. Inform family, friends or neighbors that you're having an open house event, and have them call or stop by at designated times to check on you. If you're expecting a big turn-out, you may even ask family or friends to help out at the open house.

Tip #7. Keep a cell phone on you at all times, with 9-1-1 on speed dial.

Tip #8. Make sure your car is parked in a location that allows for a quick escape. Don't park it in your driveway or a place in which it may become boxed in.

Tip #9. After showing your home, make sure all rooms are empty and all windows, doors and entrances are locked.

Tip #10. If your home is vacant, stop by routinely to check on it.

Remember that your REALTOR® is there to help protect your interests and that having a REALTOR® handle all home-showing details can help prevent many situations where the safety of you or your property may become an issue. In any case, your REALTOR® can recommend additional safety tips as you discuss the marketing plan for your Austin home.

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