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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
Austin life
Winter weather calls for indoor fun at Austin museums

The weather’s getting colder! Although Austin is renowned for its outdoor activities, there are still plenty to ways to stay warm while out on the town. For instance, Austin is home to a number of museums with collections of national and local historical significance. Below, we’ve showcased a handful of the fun and unique museums in Austin.

Austin Children’s Museum
The Austin Children’s Museum has several play areas designed for fun and learning, such as the Funstruction Zone and the Tinkerer’s Workshop. Several different group visits can be arranged, from student field trips to birthday parties and sleepovers. The Austin Children’s Museum also offers volunteer and community outreach programs.

The Blanton Museum of Art
Located at the University of Texas at Austin (UT), the Blanton Museum of Art has over 17,000 art pieces from the last 600 years. The collection is composed of art from Western Europe and Latin America, as well as some local works. As a part of UT, the museum prides itself as an educational resource for students of all ages.

The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum
Feast your eyes and ears on some Lone Star knowledge at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. The museum features three floors of exhibits, each dedicated to a specific portion of Texas history. Alternatively, you could watch a movie in Austin’s sole IMAX Theatre or take part in a Texas-themed educational program.

Texas Memorial Museum
If science is more of your thing, the Texas Memorial Museum is sure to please. Visitors can view exhibits of geology, paleontology and wildlife found in Texas, as well as an exhibit on evolution. The museum is a development of the Texas Natural Science Center, which serves as a hub for UT students to conduct research on both vertebrate and non-vertebrate paleontology.

These are merely a handful of the many museums found in the Austin. To find more museums in Austin, visit visit

Austin real estate blog
home buying, home selling
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
markets/economy, home buying, home selling
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
REALTORS®, home buying
ConsumerVue Report: Titles and title insurance

As part of their ConsumerVue segments, KVUE News showcases REALTOR® expertise each month to update their viewers on the latest happenings in the Austin real estate market. Judith Bundschuh, Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, appeared last week on ConsumerVue and discussed the importance of title insurance.

During the interview, Bundschuh identified two types of title insurance policies and explained what each type of policy covers. These two policies are known as the Mortgagee Title Policy and the Owners Title Policy. Above all else, Bundschuh strongly recommended that all home buyers purchase a title insurance policy.

You can hear more of Chairman Bundschuh's comments by watching her ConsumerVue interview on


Austin real estate blog
home improvement
Saving money on heating costs

With temperatures finally starting to drop in the Texas capital, more Austinites are wearing sweaters and coats for the first time in several months. Though homeowners throughout Austin may still be cooling their homes, soon they'll want to keep the heat inside as much as possible. Below we've listed ways to stay cozy without breaking the bank.

Keep your coats on
One of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to stay warm during the winter months is by wearing your winter gear indoors. This will keep you from raising your thermostat to a higher temperature and save money on heating costs. Wrapping up in blankets while sitting on the couch or in your favorite chair will also keep you warm.

Program your thermostat
A couple months ago, we mentioned that programming your thermostat can help save on cooling costs. The same method applies for heating! While you're at work or out of the house for more than an hour, make sure you set your AC to a cooler temperature. As with cooling, you can always readjust the settings when you've returned home. Some thermostats can be programmed to heat only specific rooms in your home, which helps keep you comfortable without consuming extra energy.

Use a space heater
If you'd rather not run your heater at all, you could make use of a space heater. These devices are particularly useful when the house is less occupied. If you're migrating from one room to another, simply bring the space heater with you. You can also help keep the heat in one room by closing off doors and vents in rooms not being used. In any case, always keep the space heater away from drapes and other flammable objects.

Prevent hot air from escaping
It's possible that hot air is escaping through your attic, fireplace or even small cracks in your windows and doors. It's a good idea to have these items inspected before the cold weather arrives to see if any leaks exist. Many of these leaks can be fixed using plastic sheeting, tape, caulk or silicon. Insulating your home can also help prevent air leaks.

For more tips about reducing your Austin home's heating costs, visit

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