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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

Home inspections: Frequently asked questions

Whether you’re in the process of buying or selling a home, the idea of getting a home inspection will likely come up. A home inspection involves an expert examining the condition of a house, checking for flaws in both the structure and the built-in systems. But are these inspections necessary? And what happens if a problem is found? We answer these questions and more below.

What does the home inspection cover?
A home inspection will examine the condition of items including the air conditioning and heating system, roof, foundation, ceilings, floors, walls, attic, basement, doors, windows and visible structure. Depending on the inspector, additional systems and features, such as swimming pools, will also be inspected.

Can I perform a home inspection myself?
Only a professional home inspector can perform an official examination. Although you may be well versed in home building and know key items to look for, a licensed inspector will have far more experience with the process, present an unbiased opinion and may identify issues you might not have considered.

Why should a home inspection be performed?
A home inspection will shed light on the current condition of a property, exposing any issues that may require routine maintenance or additional expense to resolve. Understanding the true state of a property is helpful for both the current homeowner, as well as those interested in buying the property.

Is a home inspection useful in the home buying/selling process?
Absolutely! A home inspection is a crucial part of the home buying and selling process. In most real estate transactions, the home buyer pays for the house to be inspected within a few days of signing a purchase agreement. However, as a seller, it’s not a bad idea to have an inspection performed before putting your home on the market, as the report could identify problems you need to disclose or repairs that could be made before your home is put up for sale. In addition, understanding the true condition of your home will help you and your REALTOR® determine a fair listing price.

Note: In accordance with Austin’s ECAD Ordinance, some Austin home sellers are required to have an energy audit performed on their home before selling their property. This process is separate from the home inspection.

What if the inspection reveals problems?
It’s common for home inspections to reveal minor issues in most properties—these are generally no cause for concern and can be easily resolved. However, if major problems are found, the buyer and seller will likely need to negotiate whether and when these problems will be fixed and who will pay for them. The seller may need to adjust the purchase price or contract conditions in the event that this occurs.

For more information about inspections and how they may affect your home buying or selling process, contact your Central Texas REALTOR®.

Austin real estate blog

Common questions about home appraisals

On your journey towards homeownership, you may have heard the phrase “home appraisal” tossed around once or twice. But what exactly are home appraisals, and why are they an important part of a real estate transaction? Below, we’ve unraveled a bit of the mystery by answering a few common questions about home appraisals.

What is a home appraisal?
Essentially, an appraisal is a real estate professional’s opinion on the value of your property. These professionals, known as appraisers, calculate this value using the condition of your home, the recent sales price of comparable homes in your neighborhood, the multiple listing service and their own expertise in real estate trends, among other methods and resources.

Is there more than one kind of home appraisal?
Home appraisals can specialize in three different categories: cost, sales comparison and income. Cost analyzes the cost of repairs (if needed), the value of the land and natural wear and tear. As you might guess, sales comparison analyzes the property compared to properties around it Income analyzes the cost of the property from the perspective of an investor. Regardless of the type of appraisal used, all of the information calculated from the appraisal is then written up into a report for the client to peruse.

Why should I get a home appraisal?
Perhaps the biggest reason to get your home appraised is to get an expert opinion on your property’s value. This information is useful because it can give you a great idea on how to competitively price your home. In the home buying world, an appraisal can tell a buyer whether the home they’re interested in is priced fairly. Some situations may require you to obtain an appraisal on your property, such as applying for a loan.

Is there a difference between a home inspection and an appraisal?
Yes! Although the appraiser will be looking at similar areas that a home inspector would, the appraisal report is not a substitute for a home inspection. An inspection is performed to determine the condition of the home, from its foundation to the roof and appliances. While the appraisal report will cover this kind of information, its purpose is to give the client a value estimate of their property.

These are just a handful of the common questions associated with home appraisals. For more questions and answers in regard to appraisals, visit

Austin real estate blog
2011 Austin real estate market: Third quarter review

The third quarter of 2011 was marked by a strong volume of home sales in Austin, outpacing 2010 by 32 percent in July, 33 percent in August and 31 percent in September. Median prices remained stable, ending the quarter with a median price of $189,000 in September, only two percent less than one year ago.

Pending sales, which are sales that will likely close within the following month, also enjoyed high volume during the third quarter of 2011. Compared to 2010, July saw an increase of 28 percent, whereas August and September both saw increases of 19 percent. A total of 14,862 homes were sold between January and September of 2011, which is six percent more than the same period in 2010.

“With the impact of the homebuyer tax credits fully behind us, it's encouraging to see three consecutive months of year-over-year growth in sales volume for Austin-area homes,” said Judith Bundschuh, Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®. “In the midst of that growth, Austin home values have remained stable.”

For more information about the Austin real estate market and how it may affect you, contact your Central Texas REALTOR®.

Austin real estate blog

Are your neighbors hurting your home’s value?

It's one thing to have to deal with noisy neighbors; it's another if their antics lower your home's value. Issues such as unusual paint color or a broken-down car sitting in their yard could reduce your sale price by as much as 10 percent.

It's possible your neighbors are unaware of how their behavior is affecting the neighborhood. Try approaching them directly but pleasantly, and strike up a conversation. Explain that you're planning to sell your home soon and that the condition of their house might affect your chances. Be sure to offer your assistance in fixing the problem; this will likely help resolve the issue more quickly and perhaps earn you some new friends in the process.

If your neighbors are consistently unavailable or unapproachable, voicing your concerns to another party may be your best bet. If, for example, the neighbors are renting their home, you could discuss the issue with their landlord. Or, if your neighborhood is governed by a homeowner's association, the problem could be presented at a meeting. As a last resort, consider speaking with a REALTOR® or a city representative to see if they can step in to resolve the dilemma.

If all else fails, the best you can do is make your home stand out above the rest. Touch up your home, make repairs and boost curb appeal as much as possible. Your home can still sell despite the conditions of a neighbor's house. Get in touch with a REALTOR® to determine how to best approach the situation.

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