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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.

Markets/Economy topics

Austin real estate blog
5 reasons we’re thankful to live in Austin, TX

There's no better time than the holiday season to remind ourselves of why we should be grateful. For Austinites, gratitude is easy to come by, as there are hundreds of reasons to love the Texas state capital. Below, we've narrowed down our list and chosen five reasons we're lucky to live in Austin, Texas.

This summer, Kiplinger ranked Austin No. 1 as the "Best City for the Next Decade." It's "best of" list sought to emphasize cities which "specialize in out-of-the-box thinking," having traits that encourage innovation in business, culture and technology. Kiplinger described Austin as "the country's best crucible for small business."

Economic Stability
Texas has fared much better than most states during these tough economic times. Newsweek noted that the "Texaplex"—Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and Houston—is "the No 1. destination for job-seeking Americans." In addition, The Austin American-Statesman recently reported that the job market in the Austin area has remained strong throughout the past year, having added more than 18,000 jobs since November 2009. Austin also has a lower unemployment rate when compared to many other cities in and out of Texas.

Real Estate Strength
Historically, Austin's housing market has maintained its value quite well. For example, the average home purchased in December 2002 and sold six years later in December 2008 appreciated 20 percent. With some Austin mortgage payments requiring less than $800 a month, Austin was also voted No. 1 for affordable housing by U.S. News in 2010, and was named the second healthiest real estate market by Hanley Wood Market Intelligence in 2009.

Excellent Education
Austin is home to the University of Texas and seven other public and private universities, as well as 29 public school districts, 17 charter schools and 69 private schools. In September 2010, The American Institute for Economic Research placed Austin at No. 2 for best mid-sized college town in the country. The article highlighted a wide array of statistical data pertaining to Austin, including high degree attainment, student diversity and varied commuting options, as well as Austin's "ample arts, strong creative class and beating entrepreneurial heart."

Never-ending Fun
Last but not least, it's hard not to mention how much fun you can have in Austin! named Austin the No. 1 best city for young adults, citing the annual South by Southwest festival and its high population of 18–34 year olds (about 28 percent of the total population) as examples. However, the young–at–heart can find pleasure in Texas state capitol as well. ranked Austin as the 5th best place to retire, out–ranking 95 other cities.

Austin regularly receives praise from research groups and publications across the country, whether it be for our diverse music scene, our booming small business trade or our quirky culture and vibe. For more reasons to be thankful that we live in Austin, Texas, check out our Austin/Central Texas News section here at

We wish you and your family a happy, healthy and safe holiday season!

Austin real estate blog
Foreclosure freeze: What’s going on?

You may have heard about—or even been affected by—the recent foreclosure freeze and be wondering exactly what led to this situation and what it means for home buyers and sellers. If so, the following information may help share shed some light on the issue.

Earlier this month, Bank of America froze home foreclosure sales in all 50 states after reports indicated that employees of the lenders may have mishandled foreclosure documents. Other major lends such as JPMorgan Chase and GMAC Mortgage followed suit, though they limited the freeze to 23 states, not including Texas. The freeze was a response to allow these lenders time to review the foreclosure process and determine whether recent foreclosures were in accordance with state laws.

Suspicions are aimed at an illegal practice known as "robo-signing," which refers to signing an affidavit without adequately reviewing the document. The practice is called "robo-signing" because the documents are signed quickly, almost automatically, as if a computer performed the task. Without fully understanding the affidavit being signed, lenders risk placing foreclosures on homes without having the legal right to do so.

In Texas, a demand letter was sent to 30 mortgage banking and servicing institutions by the Texas Attorney General, requesting that they "suspend all foreclosures, all sales of properties previously foreclosed upon, and all evictions of persons residing in previously foreclosed upon properties." The letter's definitions of possible infringement includes "signing documents without reading them," and "filing documents with records attached that did not correctly reflect loan payments, charges and advances."

John Horton, Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, recently spoke to KVUE news in regards to this matter. For sellers with non-distressed assets, Horton noted that the situation may help them compete with foreclosures, as buyers may be less inclined to purchase properties affected by the foreclosure freeze. Horton also mentioned that the freeze shouldn't have a drastic effect on the Austin area, as only about five percent of the Austin market consists of foreclosed properties. However, Horton noted: "...for sellers, if they can wait to put their home on the market in the Spring, they probably should."

Recently, Bank of America and other banking institutions have begun lifting the freeze in many states. In states where the freeze has been lifted, court cases have been proceeding to determine the validity of foreclosures on a case-by-case basis. In states such as Texas, where judges don't sign off on foreclosures, the freeze is scheduled to continue for an undisclosed period of time.

For more information and updates on this issue, talk to your REALTOR® or visit the National Association of REALTORS® website at

Austin real estate blog
2010 Austin real estate market: First quarter review

The first quarter of 2010 put forth a solid performance from the Austin real estate market. While home sales increased modestly during January and February, year-over-year Austin home sales increased a remarkable 27 percent in March, bringing the total amount of homes sold in the first quarter to 3,749 - a 12 percent increase over the first quarter of 2009. The median price of Austin homes remained relatively unchanged from one year ago, ending the quarter at $180,000.

Pending sales, which indicate the number of homes expected to sell in the next couple of months, remained elevated during the first quarter, increasing 7 percent in January, 24 percent in February and 31 percent in March 2010. These increases bode well for the Austin real estate market.

In the face of increasing sales volume, the Austin real estate market maintains a healthy inventory of homes. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University cites 6.5 months of inventory as a balanced market, meaning demand for homes is evenly balanced with inventory of homes for sale. At the end of the first quarter, Austin held a 6.4 month supply of homes.

For more information on the Austin real estate market and how it may affect your buying or selling situation, contact your Central Texas REALTOR®.

Austin real estate blog
2010 homebuilding trends: Efficiency is in

Did you know the U.S. population is becoming increasingly older and diverse? What's more, our nation's population is expected to increase by 100 million people in the next 30 years!

A report released by the National Association of Home Builders in January 2010 indicates that homebuilding trends are shifting to meet the new demands of present and future homebuyers. Specifically, homes built in 2010 will likely be smaller and lower-priced models that offer more energy-efficient features.

The following items are reported as most likely to be found in new homes in 2010:

• Walk-in closet in master bedroom
• Laundry room
• Insulated front door
• Great room
• Low-emittance (Low-E) windows
• Linen closet
• Programmable thermostat
• Energy-efficient appliances and lighting
• Separate shower and tub in master bathroom
• Nine-foot ceilings on first floor

These features will likely replace those that are less essential or more costly, such as outdoor kitchens, two-story foyers and multiple shower heads in master bathrooms. Homes that are easier to maintain are in, and energy inefficiency is becoming a trend of the past. For more information regarding homebuilding trends and homebuyer preferences visit

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