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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.


Austin real estate blog
home buying, home improvement
Save time and money on your utilities with CentralTexasConnect

Whether you're buying your first home or moving to a new neighborhood, you will have to consider the utilities your home will need. Does your house use both gas and electricity? Would you prefer satellite television or digital cable? Perhaps the most important question is: how much will all of these utilities cost?

The Austin Board of REALTORS® and White FenceTM have teamed up to help ease the burden of connecting home utilities by introducing CentralTexasConnect. This free online service allows you to compare prices of several essential home utilities, such as phones, television, Internet, gas and electricity, and connect them directly through the CentralTexasConnect website.

CentralTexasConnect also provides listings for a variety of home services, such as carpet cleaners, maid services, home security and much more, all in one convenient location. Using a secure search engine, you can enter your home address and zip code to let CentralTexasConnect find the best home service and utility deals being offered in your neighborhood.

Ready to start saving time and money? Visit as today.

Austin real estate blog
Austin life
Good eats in the streets: Austin’s trailer food

As many Austinites will point out, some of the best food in the Texas' capital city is not found in a restaurant; it is found out in the street. Food trailers are stationed throughout Austin, where both visitors and residents line up to get big flavor from a small kitchen.

More than just your typical hot dog or ice cream stands, the items served in Austin's food trailers range from Indian cuisine to cupcakes to vegan dishes and more. Austin's food trailer culture has made an impact nationwide, capturing the attention of The New York Times, as well as Southern Living Magazine. Below are just six of the popular food trailers found in Austin.

Over a year ago, chefs Kayo and Také Asazu brought the concept of a "sushi-bar-on-wheels" to life with the creation of Sushi-A-Go-Go. This trailer presents a variety of sushi rolls, including the Krab salad roll, with krab salad and avocado, and the Fat Samurai roll, which features five different types of fish and is a favorite of the Austin American-Statesman. Sushi-A-Go-Go also offers catering service, call-in orders and even cooking classes, where the two chefs teach basic fish-cutting and rice-making techniques in the comfort of their client's homes.

Conscious Cravings
Recently mentioned in Austin Monthly, Conscious Cravings specializes in vegetarian hot wraps and salads. If pan-seared tofu, grilled portabella mushrooms and spicy chickpeas sound like heaven, then welcome to paradise! For a healthy drink on the go, Conscious Cravings offers organic blueberry lemonade, organic teas and fresh fruit smoothies with a serving of flax seeds. And to top it all off, Conscious Cravings is happy to make deliveries, bringing healthy vegetarian meals right to your doorstep.

Near the intersection of East Seventh Street and Trinity is Kebabalicious, which serves European-Turkish street food. Kebabalicious has received critical acclaim from such local publications as the Austin American-Statesman and the Austin Chronicle. Vegetarians and meat lovers alike can find something to enjoy, from their Turk salad or hummus pita to their chicken, beef and lamb kebabs, all freshly prepared and moderately priced.

One of the newest trailers in Austin, Cazamance has many hearty dishes with Senegalese, Moroccan and French influences, all designed to bring West-African flavor to the streets of Austin. Patrons can choose from Yassa chicken, lamb sausage, hummus or roasted vegetables served in a wrap, a bed of rice or a bunny chow (a square bread pocket deriving from African cusine). After enjoying any of these wonderful combinations, Austin Monthly recommends trying the fresh young coconut to put a sweet finish on a healthy meal.

Torchy's Tacos
A distinct entry in the Austin TexMex scene, Torchy's Tacos serves up experimental taco dishes that have taken the city by storm. What started as a food trailer has since expanded to include several dine-in locations found throughout Austin, earning Torchy's consistent praise from the Austin Chronicle several years in a row. Favorites of the Austin Chronicle include the Baja Shrimp taco (with the main ingredients being fried shrimp and cooked cabbage slaw) and The Ranch Hand (where scrambled eggs meets grilled skirt steak).

The Peached Tortilla
Aiming to break free from the norm, The Peached Tortilla cooks what can best be described as a fusion of Japanese cuisine and Southern recipes. On the menu, you will find barbeque brisket sliders (with jalapeño slaw and peach barbeque sauce) sitting alongside banh mi pork tacos (featuring Vietnamese braised pork belly, pickled daikon and carrot salad), the latter of which is a favorite of Austin Monthly. The Peach Tortilla's Belgian fries are not to be missed either, especially when they are dipped in one of their delicious sauces, such as peach mint, bacon ranch or truffle mayo, just to name a few.

Of course, this is just a handful of the scrumptious street food that can be found in Austin. To learn more about Austin's many food trailers, visit or

Austin real estate blog
home improvement, home selling
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.

Austin real estate blog
home buying, home selling, markets/economy
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

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