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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.

Legal topics

Austin real estate blog
Hope for homeowners fearing foreclosure

Though Texas fares better than most U.S. states with regard to foreclosure rates, Texas homeowners are not immune to this life-changing event. For those living in fear of foreclosure, there is good news.

On February 18, 2009, President Obama announced his plan to help millions of families, neighborhoods and communities combat the threat and negative effects of foreclosure: the Making Home Affordable (MHA) program. This program is designed to help responsible homeowners get back on track by modifying or refinancing their mortgage loans.

Some homeowners who have remained current on payments but have experienced a loss of income, an increased interest rate, or a decreased property value may now be able to make the adjustments needed to continue making affordable payments toward their mortgage. If you think the MHA program could help you, look into its eligibility requirements today.

Above all, remember that foreclosure help is free—if anyone asks you to pay a fee in exchange for counseling service or modification of a delinquent loan, it’s most likely a scam. Beware of those rushing you to sign paperwork or pressuring you to sign over the deed to your property. Take a moment to read more about foreclosure rescue scams and learn about the free resources made available to you by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For more information, talk to your Central Texas REALTOR®.

Austin real estate blog
What "green" means for you

You’ve probably heard the term "green" used to describe everything from grocery bags and cars to buildings and cities. But what does "green" mean for Austin, and what does it mean for you?

While "green" can refer to practices that promote healthy living and aid in resource conservation, it’s often used in reference to practices that reduce one’s carbon footprint, boost sustainability and increase energy efficiency.

Austin consistently ranks high on lists of America's greenest cities, largely in part to its Climate Protection Program, which puts Austin on track to become carbon neutral by 2020. Austin is also among cities leading the nation in the number of Energy Star qualified homes available to homebuyers. These homes meet strict energy efficient standards in regard to insulations systems, windows, construction and appliances.

Because Austin takes seriously its mission to "go green," Central Texans are buying more energy efficient homes, saving money through reduced energy costs and living in a city on track to become "the most livable city in the country."

So, what does "green" mean for Austin homeowners? In short: lower energy costs, a more sustainable standard of living and, of course, bragging rights.

To learn more about Austin’s Climate Protection program and how it affects Austin homeowners, read our post on "Understanding’s Austin’s energy efficiency ordinance."

Austin real estate blog
Real estate disclosure: Safeguarding your best interests

If you’re looking to buy a home in Austin, Texas, we have good news for you: The state of Texas’ disclosure laws help safeguard your best interests in the real estate transaction.

It wasn’t always this way.

In the early 1960s real estate agents were required by law to represent the seller's interests, leaving no need to disclose a property’s defects to potential buyers. Today, however, real estate disclosure is codified into national and state laws as an extension of consumer rights. Home sellers now have specific duties to buyers in real estate transactions.

A good example of a nationally codified disclosure law is the 1992 Estate Disclosure and Notification Rule, which requires sellers of homes built before 1978 to disclose potential or known lead-based paint hazards and provide available written reports to buyers or renters.

Texas law now requires that sellers provide buyers with a completed Seller's Disclosure of Property Condition Notice on or before the effective date of a contract. The notice must disclose all potential or known structural defects, as well as information concerning issues with any of the following:

  • Heating
  • Plumbing
  • Mechanical and electrical systems
  • Easements
  • Environmental hazards
  • Landfills
  • Flooding
  • Zoning violations or noise problems
  • Termite and pest infestations; or
  • Treatments or damage

Though all real estate agents are required to adhere to disclosure laws, REALTORS® go a step further to ensure that clients are treated fairly not only by legal standards but by strict ethical standards as well. In following a strict Code of Ethics, REALTORS® disclose any and all relevant information to their clients to avoid misrepresentation of themselves or the property at any time during the transaction.

Working with a REALTOR® can help you avoid legal issues common in real estate transaction. For more information about your real estate rights, visit the Consumer Tools section of

Austin real estate blog
Understanding Austin’s energy efficiency ordinance

If you’re in the market to buy or sell Austin real estate, you may have heard of Austin’s energy efficiency ordinance, officially known as the Energy Conservation Audit and Disclosure (ECAD) Ordinance.

Under the ECAD Ordinance, some Austin homeowners are required to have an energy audit performed on their home prior to selling it and share that audit report with potential buyers. In most cases, an audit is required for homes lying within the Austin city limits that are older than 10 years and serviced by Austin Energy. (Exceptions apply, so talk to your REALTOR® about whether the ordinance will affect you.)

Though the ECAD ordinance took effect June 1, 2009, the city’s effort to “go green” and stop manufacturing excess carbon dioxide (CO2) dates back much further.

In 2007, 70% of the city’s electricity was being used by homes and commercial buildings, with the average home generating twice the greenhouse-gas emissions as the average car (roughly 11,450 pounds of CO2 yearly, according to the Environmental Protection Agency).

With this in mind, the Austin City Council established the Austin Climate Protection Plan (ACPP) with the goal of making Austin “the most livable city in the country” and a carbon-neutral city by 2020.

As the ACPP consists of five components, each with their own specific initiatives, the ECAD Ordinance was created to address but a single part of the puzzle: how to pursue energy efficient upgrades for existing buildings. The ECAD Ordinance seeks to educate homeowners on potential for energy savings within their home in hopes that they will voluntarily opt for cost-effective upgrades.

Energy audits are good for 10 years, so consider having an audit performed on your home now to prevent a last-minute scramble and begin benefiting from the audit findings today. For more information on the ECAD Ordinance, talk to your Central Texas REALTOR®.

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