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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
Neighborhood Watch programs keep Austin neighborhoods safe

Does your neighborhood have a Neighborhood Watch program? Crime prevention is a priority for many communities, as demonstrated earlier this month during Austin's National Night Out event. It's likely that many of the neighborhoods who participated in the event have crime prevention programs like a Neighborhood Watch, or perhaps formed one during the citywide event. Below, we have outlined the steps to take for creating one of these groups in your neighborhood.

Speak to your local law enforcement
It's possible that your neighborhood already has a Neighborhood Watch program. If you're not sure, your local law enforcement agency will be able to tell you if one already exists. If there's no program currently in place, you'll want to contact the agency when you begin organizing your group. You must have sponsorship of a law enforcement agency in order to make your Neighborhood Watch group official. These men and women will also be responsible for educating your group about crime prevention.

Rally your neighborhood
You can't fight off crime alone! Gather support from your neighbors in favor of creating a Neighborhood Watch program by suggesting the idea during an HOA or neighborhood association meeting. It's likely that the members of the board will agree with creating such a group.

If your neighborhood isn't governed by these types of associations, consider pitching the idea directly to your neighbors. Create a sign-up sheet and go door to door, asking your neighbors to provide their name, phone number and email address if they're interested in participating. You can use their contact information later to organize meetings.

Meet regularly and form a plan
Once your group has officially assembled, it's important to meet regularly. Plan monthly or bi-weekly meetings to stay on top of the most critical issues facing your neighborhood. Some Neighborhood Watch programs use text messaging and social media to communicate between members. These tools can be very useful in thwarting problems quickly.

Neighborhood Watch groups play a vital role in helping law enforcement reduce crime in our neighborhoods, which benefits Austin as a whole. For more information about Neighborhood Watch groups and how to start one of your own, visit

Austin real estate blog
home buying, home selling
Are your neighbors hurting your home’s value?

It's one thing to have to deal with noisy neighbors; it's another if their antics lower your home's value. Issues such as unusual paint color or a broken-down car sitting in their yard could reduce your sale price by as much as 10 percent.

It's possible your neighbors are unaware of how their behavior is affecting the neighborhood. Try approaching them directly but pleasantly, and strike up a conversation. Explain that you're planning to sell your home soon and that the condition of their house might affect your chances. Be sure to offer your assistance in fixing the problem; this will likely help resolve the issue more quickly and perhaps earn you some new friends in the process.

If your neighbors are consistently unavailable or unapproachable, voicing your concerns to another party may be your best bet. If, for example, the neighbors are renting their home, you could discuss the issue with their landlord. Or, if your neighborhood is governed by a homeowner's association, the problem could be presented at a meeting. As a last resort, consider speaking with a REALTOR® or a city representative to see if they can step in to resolve the dilemma.

If all else fails, the best you can do is make your home stand out above the rest. Touch up your home, make repairs and boost curb appeal as much as possible. Your home can still sell despite the conditions of a neighbor's house. Get in touch with a REALTOR® to determine how to best approach the situation.

Austin real estate blog
ConsumerVue Report: the numbers of real estate transactions

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 important numbers to consider during real estate transactions.

These numbers include the type of mortgage a home buyer should choose, the negotiation of the final closing cost and the various statistics that shape Austin's real estate market each month. In regards to mortgage types, Bundschuh mentioned that while 15-year mortgages typically have lower rates, the monthly payments towards a 30-year mortgage are usually cheaper.

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

Austin real estate blog
home improvement, home selling
Get your home ready for sale

When you're considering selling your home, you'll want to present your house in the best light possible. Of course, cleaning and organizing your house before showings is a must, but there are other steps to take before your home will be ready for a buyer to see it. Below, we have crafted a check-list that home sellers should review before putting a house on the market.

Get in touch with a REALTOR®
With a REALTOR® by your side, the home selling process will be much easier. Not only can they become a valuable partner, they can also offer sound advice for getting your home ready, especially when it's time for your first home showing. In addition, a REALTOR® can get your home listed, priced properly and marketed effectively.

Depersonalize your home
Perhaps the biggest hurdle you may face is removing any strong emotional attachment from your property. This is understandable, as it's likely that you've lived in the home for many years. However, when it comes to selling your home, you must see it as a house; a piece of property no different than a car or a piece of jewelry. Once you release the emotional attachment, the process of selling your home becomes much easier.

Stow away your belongings
Consider renting a storage unit and move some of your personal items from the home. Not only will this help potential buyers see the house as "their own," it will also take some of the sting out of getting rid of your former home, as your personal belongings will be out of sight and out of mind. You could also hold a yard sale or sell unneeded items on eBay or Craigslist.

Freshen up your home's exterior
The inside appearance of your home is important, but what about the outside? The exterior of your home is the first thing a potential buyer will see. Its condition will ultimately influence whether the buyer will want to step through the front door. One of the best ways to boost curb appeal is touching up your home's paint job. Other effective methods include regularly mowing your lawn and sweeping away debris in your driveway, as well as planting and maintaining flowers in your yard.

Consider having an inspection performed
Buyers typically have the house inspected before they finalize their decision to buy. However, it can be beneficial to have an inspection performed before you even put your home on the market. If there are any issues with your home, they can be identified and even repaired before your home is listed. This can help save time for both you and the buyer during the negotiation process. In any case, it's best to discuss with your REALTOR® whether you should have an inspection performed ahead of time.

By following these steps, you'll greatly improve your overall home selling experience. For more tips for successfully selling your home, visit

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