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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
Understanding paint: Choosing the right paint for the job

Did you know that painting is one of the most inexpensive ways to increase the value of your home? Whether you're planning to revitalize a single room or the entire exterior, below are some important questions to consider when deciding on the paint you'll use for your project.

What type of paint should I use?
Professional painters use either oil-based paints or latex-based paints. The differences between the two types vary greatly. For example, oil-based paints are more difficult to work with, but they usually won't require a second coat. Latex-based paints are smoother and easier to work with, but will often require a second or third coat before the job is finished. It's best to speak with a painting professional to decide which type of paint is best suited for your project.

You'll also need to consider the type of finish, or sheen, you want your paint to have. A paint's finish can directly affect the paints appearance and durability. Below is a list of the different kinds of paint finish and their characteristics:

  • Flat - Flat finish smoothes the appearance of walls and siding and is ideal for interior painting projects such as bedrooms or living rooms. This finish is also adept at hiding surface imperfections.
  • Satin - Satin finish is fantastic for interior rooms that are occupied frequently, such as bedrooms or hallways. This finish is very similar to flat finishes, but with a hint of gloss.
  • Gloss - Gloss finish has a shiny, reflective appearance and is designed for wood surfaces such as doors or cabinets.
  • Semi-Gloss - Semi-gloss finish works well in areas that are regularly cleaned, such as a bathroom or kitchen. As the name implies, semi-gloss creates a less reflective surface than a gloss finish.
  • High Gloss - High gloss finish has more shine and reflection than any other finish. This is typically used for exterior projects such as front doors. However, it may not be the best choice if there are noticeable flaws on the surface you are painting on.

What color of paint should I choose?
Choosing the right color of paint is often the most challenging part of the project. Different colors can produce drastically different "moods" in a room, and deciding which feel you want to convey is important.

Colors can be divided into two categories: warm or cool. Warm colors include shades of yellow, orange and red and typically have an energizing effect on the viewer. Cool colors include shades of blue, green and purple and typically have a relaxing effect on the viewer.

An easy way to decide on a paint color is by matching or accenting the color of the wall paper, furniture, carpeting or other décor in the room. If possible, bring in samples of the carpet and fabrics used in the room to a paint store. They can use these samples to determine which colors might work best on your walls.

Keep in mind that paint color may look different on a sample strip than it will on your walls. The lighting in a room, whether it's natural or artificial, can completely transform a color's hue and appearance. Consider bringing home some paint color samples and applying them to a portion of the surface you wish to paint. This way, you can test out your color choices using the lighting in your own home.

Major painting stores, such as Sherwin-Williams or Benjamin Moore, have created "color visualizers" on their websites that allows you to test your favorite colors virtually before you actually apply them.

What is primer and when should I use it?
Paint primer helps protect the surface you are painting on and helps paint form a stronger adhesion after it has been applied, which reduces the chance of peeling or cracking.

Primer comes in a variety of types, corresponding with a variety of surfaces. There are primers for wood, concrete, aluminum and drywall surfaces, as well as variations in these categories to provide smoother appearances or increased protection.

Generally speaking, surfaces that are permeable and/or uneven should always be coated with primer before the actual painting begins. Wood surfaces commonly require a coat of primer, as they are usually exposed to the elements and retain moisture well. Using primer on other surfaces such as metals or plastics can help protect the surface itself. For exterior paint projects, the use of primer is essential, as your surface will be exposed to the elements and will need as much protection as possible.

Having a basic understanding of paint and primer before beginning your project will reduce the need for touch ups further down the road. For more tips on preparing for your painting project, talk to a painting professional near you.

Austin real estate blog
Seller beware: Four myths surrounding FSBO homes

Are you familiar with the acronym "FSBO?" This stands for "For Sale By Owner" and indicates that a property listing is not represented by a REALTOR®. Some sellers prefer to sell properties on their own, usually because they believe they will save money by doing so. However, there are many risks that come with selling a property without professional assistance. Below, we address four myths about being a do-it-yourself seller.

Myth #1 - More people are selling their homes by themselves these days.

Actually, it's quite the opposite. According to buyer and seller data collected by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the number of people who sold homes on their own has decreased by nearly 50 percent in the last 19 years. In 2010, less than 10 percent of U.S. home sales were sold by the owners themselves, while 88 percent of U.S. home sales were sold with professional assistance.

Myth #2 - A home doesn't need to be listed on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to sell.

While it's true that a home need not be listed on the Multiple Listing Service to sell, it certainly helps. Having your home listed on the MLS by your REALTOR® exposes it to a vast network of REALTORS® who conduct daily property searches on behalf of their clients. In addition, property listings on the MLS can easily be featured on the personal websites of REALTORS® and pushed to websites such as and This exposure-in addition to the other ways a REALTOR® may market your home-can go a long way in getting your home sold.

Myth #3 - It's easier for homeowners to "sell" potential buyers on their homes when they conduct home showings themselves.

Not exactly. Research shows that buyers often feel intimidated when the owner is present during a showing, as they may feel uncomfortable expressing their opinions of the home in front of the owner. Also keep in mind that selling a house is a time-consuming venture. One must make sure that the home is repaired and ready for showings, as well as be available to show the home to potential buyers. Most people simply do not have the time to manage all of this on their own.

Myth #4 - Aside from setting a price, there's really not that much that goes into selling a home.

Not true. Home sale transactions are a complicated process with many different facets to cover before the sale can be completed. For instance, not only would you need to set an appropriate price for your home and negotiate offers submitted by potential buyers, but draft a solid contract, as well. One small oversight when writing or signing the necessary legal documents could lead to lawsuits and other complications after the sale closes. By working with a REALTOR®, you can rest knowing that your best interests are protected.

If you're still convinced that selling your home on your own is the right way to go, consider this: Data shows that home sellers with professional representation typically achieve about 40 percent more for their homes. Knowing this, why wouldn't you want to work with a REALTOR® to sell your home? Get in touch with a REALTOR® today by visiting our "Find a REALTOR®" section here at

Austin real estate blog
Austin’s 2010 housing market: A year in review

The Austin Board of REALTORS® recently released its Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report for December of 2010, concluding their analysis of the Austin housing market this past year. So how did Austin real estate perform in 2010?

Austin home sales posted year-over-year increases during the first half of 2010, with the biggest upsurges occurring in March, April and May (with increases of 27 percent, 31 percent and 24 percent respectively). John Horton, 2010 Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, explained that the substantial increase in sales during this period was likely due to the expiration of the homebuyer tax credits on April 30.

Horton noted that "we have the unique situation of the homebuyer tax credits that inspired many buyers to purchase homes sooner than usual. Thus, it's more meaningful to evaluate our market from a year-to-date perspective, instead of month-to-month, to gain a clear picture."

Overall, a total of 17,905 single-family homes were sold in Austin in 2010, a five percent decrease compared to 2009. Homes in Austin took an average of 77 days to sell, which is two percent less than the amount of time it took in 2009. The median price of Austin real estate remained stable, averaging at $193,520 for the year, a three percent increase from 2009.

The Austin market also remained healthy in regards to its housing inventory. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M states that 6.5 months of inventory indicates a healthy market, with anything above 6.5 considered a "buyer's market" and anything below considered a "seller's market." Austin's month's supply of inventory ranged from 5.4 to 7.3 in 2010, while national housing inventory ranged from 6.9 to 11.9.

Heading into 2011, Austin appears to be on the road to economic recovery. Last month, attendees of the 2011 Housing Forecast co-hosted by the Austin Board of REALTORS® and the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin gained some insight into the future of Austin's housing market and economy.

Eldon Rude, Director of the Austin Market for Metrostudy and one of the speakers at the housing forecast, predicted that slowed home construction, as well as increasing apartment occupancy and rental rates would help Austin's housing market, noting that "with increasing rent, renters will have to decide whether to keep paying rent or buy a home." Rude believes that home pricing pressure, job growth and consumer confidence will help put Austin's economy back on track in 2011 and into 2012.

Statistics from the December 2010 MLS report can be found in our Austin Real Estate Report section. Be sure to check in each month as we evaluate Austin's housing market throughout 2011.

Austin real estate blog

Top ten remodeling paybacks of 2010

When considering a remodeling project, cost is definitely an important factor. However, you must also consider whether a remodeling project will retain its value if you decide to sell your home.

Recently, Remodeling Magazine and REALTOR® Magazine published their annual Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report for 2010, which takes 35 common remodeling projects and estimates the average recouped cost for each project in 80 cities across the United States. Although these itemized estimates are based on hypothetical projects for an average American home, they are helpful in providing an overview of remodeling costs.

On a national level, the report indicates that the largest percentage of recouped costs derived from such projects as steel entry door replacement (102.1 percent of costs returned), garage door replacement (83.9 percent of costs returned) and wooden deck additions (72.8 percent of costs returned). Many of the highest financial returns were seen from projects where building costs were less than $15,000.

On a local level, estimated recouped costs were much greater than most cities in the nation, according to the report. Below are the top ten remodeling projects that yielded the highest returns for homeowners in Austin, Texas in 2010:

  • Steel entry door replacement (116.6 percent)
  • Garage door replacement (98.7 percent)
  • Basement remodel (84.3 percent)
  • Attic bedroom (78.3 percent)
  • Wooden window Replacement (76.9 percent)
  • Vinyl siding replacement (75.5 percent)
  • Minor kitchen remodel (74.2 percent)
  • Major kitchen remodel (73.8 percent)
  • Wooden deck addition (72.8 percent)
  • Vinyl window replacement (71.5 percent)

Keep in mind that these numbers are just estimates and that every home is different; the cost of a new kitchen in one home could cost significantly less than the same project in another home, for example. We encourage you to talk to your Central Texas REALTOR®, as he or she can help you determine how to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to remodeling your home.

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