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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
REALTORS®, legal
REALTORS® rally at Capitol to protect homeowners’ interests
THURSDAY, MAY 26, 2011

On April 12th, over 2,000 Texas REALTORS® convened at the state Capitol to participate in the 2011 Texas Legislative Hill Visits. REALTORS® met with State Representatives Donna Howard and Paul Workman, staff members for Representatives Dawnna Dukes, Elliott Naishtat, Eddie Rodriguez and Mark Strama, as well as Senator Kirk Watson, to discuss bills supporting real estate professionals and homeowners alike. Below, we have summarized three specific issues discussed during the 82nd Legislative Session and how they affect homeowners.

1. TREC: Self-Directed, Semi-Independent Status
The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) requires real estate agents and brokers to be well educated and licensed to perform their duties. HB 1680 and SB 1000 would grant TREC self-directed, semi-independent status, allowing the Commission to retain the licensing fees it collects. With more funding, TREC would have a stronger impact on the real estate community, which would allow real estate professionals to provide higher quality services to their clients.

2. Private Transfer Fees
Certain developers can impose private transfer fees on a property. This means that if a homeowner wanted to sell their home, they would be required to pay a fee to the developers before closing. HB 8 and SB 1459 would make private transfer fees illegal in the state of Texas. Dwight Hale, Chairman of the Texas association of REALTORS®, stated that, "These fees are scams that decrease affordability and serve no public purpose."

3. TREC Housekeeping Priorities
Customers take comfort in knowing they are working with the best in the business, and the real estate industry is no exception. SB 747 intends to change the education and licensing requirements for real estate professionals, holding them to a higher standard. Changes include increasing the years of experience required before a real estate agent may become a broker and making a real estate license mandatory for individuals who accept deposits or rent.

The aforementioned bills are supported by both the Austin Board of REALTORS® and the Texas Association of REALTORS®. These bills would help further REALTORS®' efforts to protect private property rights and the interests of Texas homeowners. You can check on the current status of these bills by visiting the Texas Legislature's website and entering the bill number in the search engine provided.

Austin real estate blog
markets/economy, home buying, home selling
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
home improvement
House cleaning: Five tips to help get you started

The time for spring cleaning is here and, for some homeowners, it can be an overwhelming event. However, with a little help from your family and some careful planning, your cleaning session can be less stressful and more successful. Below, we have listed five tips to make cleaning your home a more positive and productive experience.

1. Create a game plan
Before you even grab your mop and bucket, it's a good idea to come up with a game plan. Go through your house with a notepad and pen and take note of the areas that need attention. Write down what needs to be fixed and how you plan to do so. Then, prioritize your list based on which areas need the most work.

2. Set a schedule
Discuss what you want to accomplish with your family and what days would best suit everyone involved. Perhaps you'll want to put in a couple of hours of work each day. Or, it might be better to set aside a weekend or two for taking care of business. Make sure everyone in your family agrees to a set time and will dedicate that period to cleaning and organizing.

3. Break big projects into smaller tasks
Trying to take care of every problem in one go will likely leave you exhausted and overwhelmed. If you have a big problem area that needs attention, break the clean-up into manageable parts - whether by areas or objects in the room, or by the cleaning methods involved.

For example, if your bedroom needs to be de-cluttered, divide the room by the areas that need attention. You could spend one session reorganizing your drawers and another session cleaning out your closet. Once the room has been organized, you might tackle specific cleaning activities (such as vacuuming, dusting, etc.).

4. Secure supplies
You'll want to make sure you have everything you need before you get started. The last thing you want is to start cleaning, only to realize you don't have any sponges or toilet bowl cleaner. Making a trip to the store in the middle of a project to get necessary items can slow your momentum and make the project take longer than expected.

5. Have some fun
Even though the task will take time and energy, that doesn't mean it has to be boring! While cleaning, turn on some music that everyone can enjoy. Take regularly scheduled breaks so you and your family can rest and regain some strength. When a task is completed, reward yourself and your helpers by going out for dinner or staying in and watching a movie.

With a solid game plan for big cleaning projects, you'll not only find that more can be accomplished in shorter time, but the whole event becomes much less stressful. For more great tips on cleaning and organizing your home, visit

Austin real estate blog
home buying, home improvement
Backyard swimming pool: Is it the right choice for you?

For some homeowners, having an in-ground pool in their backyard is essential; it keeps them cool during the warmer months and provides a great location for parties and social gatherings. For others, however, a pool is seen as a money drainer that only serves to increase living expenses. If you're thinking about buying a home with a pool or installing a pool in your backyard, ask yourself the following questions.

How will a pool affect the value of my home?
Recent studies have shown that a backyard swimming pool can increase the value of your home, depending on the area in which you live. In Texas, the study found that a pool can increase a home's value by as much as 13 percent. Of course, speaking with a REALTOR® will help you best determine how a pool may affect your home's value.

Will buyers be interested in my home if I own a pool?
It's important to keep in mind that a backyard pool can be a deal breaker for some buyers. If buyers have young children, for example, they may feel a pool is a safety hazard. For others, however, a pool might be exactly what they're looking for. If your neighborhood doesn't have a community pool, your home may be more appealing if there's a private pool in the backyard.

Do I have the time and money to put into maintenance?
If you do decide to own a swimming pool, make sure you're prepared to maintain it. You'll need to keep the PH levels of the pool in balance and perform regular chemical treatments to ensure algae and bacteria don't develop. According to the Wall Street Journal, pool owners may need to budget $3,000 to $5,000 each year for general maintenance and repairs. Some repairs, such as resurfacing the tiles and plaster, can cost as much as $10,000.

Is it worth the cost?
Pool installations generally cost anywhere between $25,000 and $50,000. Even though you will likely find someone interested in owning your home, experts suggest that you won't recoup the cost of installing a backyard swimming pool.

Nevertheless, you may find that the expenses are worth it. Homeowners with a pool can take refreshing dips in the water when Texas temperatures climb up to 100 degrees or more. A pool can also provide a great backdrop for a house party, where guests can go swimming or simply relax outside enjoying the sights and sounds of the water.

Buying and maintaining a pool is expensive, but it can be a rewarding experience for you and your family. Be sure to discuss with your REALTOR® whether owning a swimming pool is the right choice for you.

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