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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
Should I sell my home? Questions to ask yourself

When considering selling your home, knowing the right time to put it on the market can be tricky. Local market conditions and a variety of outside factors will affect the outcome in the event that you sell your home. However, before putting a "For Sale" sign in your yard, consider the following questions.

Why do I want to sell my home?
The decision to sell your home is a big one-one that shouldn't be taken lightly. Make sure you examine all of your reasons for selling your home. Do you want to sell because you're struggling with mortgage payments? Are you relocating to ease your commute to a new job? Has your family outgrown your home? Write down your reasons and determine whether they are "needs" or "wants."

Is selling my home my only option?
Once you pinpoint why you're thinking of selling your home, consider whether selling your home is the best or only way to achieve that goal. For example, if you're looking for lower monthly payments, you might look into refinancing. Or, if you love your home but have simply outgrown it, you might consider whether remodeling will do the trick. Additionally, some homeowners who buy another house opt to turn their first home into a rental property instead of selling it (just remember: while this can be a profitable experience, owning a rental property can be a time-consuming endeavor that comes with its own expenses). Weigh the pros, cons and potential risks of each option.

Will I profit off of selling my home?
Some experts suggest that those who have lived in their home for five years or more will likely make back the approximate cost of what they paid for it. Here in Austin, the average home purchased five years ago has increased in value by 12 percent. That said, the amount you'll get back largely depends on the price that similar homes are selling for in your neighborhood.

Working with a REALTOR® is the best way to learn about market conditions in your particular area, as well as increase your chances for selling your home for the best price. A 2010 survey by the National Association of REALTORS® showed that the median home price for sellers who used an agent was approximately 40 percent higher than that paid for a home sold directly by an owner.

When considering how much you may stand to gain from selling your home, keep in mind that you may not be able to pocket all the money a buyer will pay. In addition to paying off what you might still owe for your mortgage loan, you'll likely be faced with additional costs such as closing fees, commission paid to REALTORS®, transfer charges and more.

What happens if my home doesn't sell right away?
It's important to remember that a buyer might not pop up the moment your home goes on the market. In fact, in 2010, Austin homes spent an average of 77 days on the market before selling. Consider your personal timeline and level of urgency to sell and think through how you'll handle the buying/selling transition, whether it takes place a few days or a few months down the line. Talking to your REALTOR® will help you get a feel for home-selling trends in your neighborhood.

Selling your home can be an exciting and rewarding experience, especially when you sell for the right reasons at the right time. Get in touch with your REALTOR® or find a REALTOR® to discuss whether selling your home is the best option for you.

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

Painting your home’s exterior: Are you up for the job?

Whether you're remodeling your home or preparing your home for resale, a new coat of paint on your home's exterior can work wonders. You can inexpensively add value to your home and make it more appealing to you, your family, guests and potential buyers. Below, we have listed some useful tips for executing a winning exterior paint project.

Note: Painting projects are challenging tasks. Executing your project properly will require a good amount of time, tools and likely some help from friends or family. If you feel you may not be able to accomplish this project, you should consider hiring a professional painter to get the job done.

Getting ready for your project
First, you'll need to ensure you have all the tools and materials needed to get the job done. Below are some of the tools and materials you will need and what they do:

  • Caulk - Caulk is a sealant designed to fill in cracks and holes in the surface you plan on painting. It can also be used to prevent insects and air from entering your home from the outside.
  • Paint brushes - The most recognizable tool for painting, paint brushes are fantastic for smaller areas and touch ups to larger areas. These tools are precise and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • Paint rollers - Paint rollers are much larger than paint brushes and can easily cover large areas with paint. This will probably be the tool you'll be using the most for your exterior paint project.
  • Power washer - This tool uses high-pressure water to blast dirt, chalk, dust and mold off the surface you wish you paint on, creating a clean, smooth surface for your project.
  • Primer - Primer is used to prepare the surface for the painting job itself, providing a layer of protection and a stronger adhesive bond for the paint.
  • Scraper - As the name implies, scrapers are used to scrape off old paint from a surface, especially paint that is cracking or peeling.
  • Step ladder - A ladder will help you reach every inch of the surface you wish to paint.

Naturally, you'll also need paint to complete your project. There are many different kinds of paint to choose from, each designed for specific surfaces or areas. Determining what kind of paint you need is a crucial step to take before you get your project off the ground.

You'll also need to determine how much paint your project will call for. Some paint stores, such as Sherwin-Williams, provide Paint Calculators on their websites to help you decide exactly how much paint you'll need.

Surface inspections and preparations
Once you've gathered all the tools you need, your next step should be inspecting the condition of the surface you're planning to paint on.

Make sure that the surface is as clean as possible before any primer, caulk or paint is applied. A common method to accomplish this is by using a power washer. However, you must be cautious when using a power washer. The water pressure is high enough to cause damage to your exterior surfaces, not to mention severe injuries to any person caught in the spray.

You'll also want to check for signs of peeling and cracks on the old paint's surface. If such signs exist, use some sandpaper and a scraper to remove these problem areas.

Note: If your home was built before 1978, it's possible that your home was painted using lead-based paint. If this is the case, there are health concerns you should consider before scraping or sanding. You may need to speak to a contractor and have them remove the paint before you continue with your project.

Now that your surface is clean and problem-free, you are ready to begin painting. First, you'll need to apply primer to the surface you wish to paint on. Depending on the material the surface is made of, a specific type of primer may be needed. Primer is used the same way paint is used - by using a paint brush or paint roller and applying it to the surface.

Once you have covered your surface with primer, let it dry completely before you begin applying paint. Start at the top of your surface and work your way downward using the paint roller, then touch up the application with your paint brush. If you need to apply a second coat, start with the roller again and finish with the brush.

You've just read some of the basics of accomplishing an exterior painting project. For specific tips on getting your painting job done right, visit or, or talk to a painting professional near you.

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