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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.

REALTOR® topics

Austin real estate blog
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
Defining REALTOR® relationships

Does real estate jargon leave you scratching your head? The following glossary can help shed light on some of the different ways a REALTOR® may work with you in a property transaction:

Broker — A licensed agent who has the experience and training necessary to receive a broker's license, which allows that person to manage his or her own real estate business and/or sponsor other agents. "Sponsoring" an agent means the broker holds the agent's real estate license and is legally responsible for the business conduct of that agent. The broker supervises the agent's activities and provides additional services and facilities in return for a portion of the agent's commission.

Agent — An agent with a salesperson license who must work under direct sponsorship and supervision of a licensed broker in order to practice real estate. Agents may work with home buyers as a "buyer's agent" or with home sellers as a "seller's agent."

Associated Broker — An agent holding a broker's license who decides to work under the supervision and guidance of another broker.

*Note: Both real estate brokers and sales agents must be licensed by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) in order to conduct property sales within the State of Texas.

Listing agent — Sometimes referred to as a "seller's agent," this term describes a real estate agent who works for and represents a home seller.

Buyers agent — Describes a real estate agent who works for and represents a home buyer.

REALTOR® — Some brokers and sales agents choose to become REALTORS®, which means they must adhere to the National Associations of REALTORS®' (NAR) Code of Ethics and be a member in good standing of the local, state and national association. For this reason, all REALTORS® are real estate agents, but not all real estate agents are REALTORS®.

Customer — Is a principle in a transaction who is not represented by an agent. The customer is entitled to receive information but no advice. The Texas Real Estate Commission and NAR's Code of Ethics require agents to treat customers honesty and fairly.

Client — Is a principle in a transaction who is represented by an agent, and will receive advice in addition to honesty and fair treatment. The agent is bound to work for their principle to obtain the best results for their principle.

REALTOR® Teams — In a REALTOR® team, multiple licensed sales agents from the same brokerage work together to ensure that all parts of the transaction run smoothly by using activity specialists. For example, one REALTOR® may be in charge of showing homes to the client, while another may handle paperwork and scheduling. Be sure to ask your REALTOR® how she and/or her team conducts business so that you'll know what to expect.

Single agency — Single agency takes place when broker/agent represents either the home buyer or the home seller, but never both during a single transaction.

Dual Representation — Dual representation takes place when one broker represents both the buyer and the seller during a single transaction. The practice was formerly known as Dual Agency. Dual Agency is now illegal in Texas, but it has been replaced by the practice called Intermediary. Special rules are in place that require the agent to provide information about the Intermediary process, and to obtain the informed written consent of both principles. One of the major benefits of the Intermediary practice is that it allows for advice to be given to the principles through an appointment process. Under the old Dual Agency advice to the principles was not permitted. Be sure to ask your REALTOR® how she and/or her team conducts business so that you'll know what to expect.

"Limited Service" agent — Some brokerages offer real estate services on a "limited service," "flat fee," or an "a la carte" basis. In the past, those services were limited to listing homes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) or providing paperwork to clients without any support negotiating or evaluating offers. However, law passed in 2005 requires Texas real estate agents to present and accept offers and counteroffers on the client's behalf, assist the client in developing offers, and answer the client's questions as part of their minimum level of service.

These definitions are just a starting point in understanding the various ways REALTORS® work for you. Remember to contact your Central Texas REALTOR® to inquire about their specific business practices.

Austin real estate blog
Protecting your homeowner rights
MONDAY, JULY 12, 2010

If you're a current or soon–to–be homeowner—congratulations! Homeownership is wonderful right that we enjoy as Americans and one of the best ways to begin building wealth. Because buying a home is likely the largest investment you'll ever make, it's important to protect that investment and your interests as a homeowner. Below are several ways to do so:

1. Ask your REALTOR®
Through organizations such as the Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee (TREPAC) REALTORS® work as a group to advise elected officials and influence public policy in order to protect private property rights, real estate licensees and—most importantly—home buyers. Ask your REALTOR® about current issues affecting Austin homeowners and what actions you can take together to protect your rights.

2. Sign up for legislative alerts
The Texas Association of REALTORS® (TAR) will be glad to alert you via e-mail when legislation arises that could infringe on your homeowner rights or lead to additional taxes. Rest assured that the e–mail you provide TAR will be used only to send you legislative alerts and will not shared with other parties.

3. Contact your legislator
Once you're aware of issues that could affect you as a homeowner, contact your state and local representatives to share your opinion and influence the decision-making on Capitol Hill. Together, homeowners and REALTORS® can raise a strong voice to help support all citizens in living the American Dream.

Austin real estate blog

The MLS and your Austin home search
FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 2010

As a home buyer or seller, you may have heard of the "MLS" but have questions about what that term actually means. If that's the case, we're here to help! The following Q&A can help shed a little light on the subject.

1. What is the MLS?
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is database of property listings. Properties for sale are listed in the MLS by REALTORS®. REALTORS® are a valuable tool in your Austin home search because they have exclusive, direct access to the MLS, which provides them with full property descriptions, as well as additional details about each home, including security codes, tax data and historical information. Though online property searches available to the general public provide basic information about a home—such as the square footage and number of beds and baths—this is only a fraction of the details shown to REALTORS® via the MLS.

2. How does MLS listing content get online?
There are two ways MLS content is distributed online. First, real estate associations can feed property details from the MLS directly to their consumer websites. For example the property search data on comes directly from the Austin Board of REALTORS®' (ABoR) MLS.

Second, real estate associations offer tools that allow REALTORS® to feature property listings from the MLS on their personal websites, as well as send their listings to third party websites such as Tools provided by real estate associations are directly connected with the MLS; therefore, when they are used as the primary tool in sending listings to other sites, the property data distributed is correct and remains current. That said, third party sites receive data from a variety of other sources, some of which may not distribute information straight from the MLS.

3. Can I trust the information on any real estate agent's website?
Typically only REALTORS®, who can be distinguished by their membership in the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), can access the MLS. Therefore, property listings should be accurate if you are visiting a REALTOR®'s website.

4. Are all home search sites the same?
No! Home search sites hosted by real estate associations or by REALTORS® offer the most current and comprehensive property information because they receive data feeds directly from the MLS. Third party home search sites can feature some inaccurate or outdated information because they receive property data from many different sources, some of which do not pull their listings straight from the MLS. Finally, it nearly goes without saying that property listings found on websites such as should be viewed with the utmost caution, as there is no guarantee of accurate information or ethical conduct by those posting the listings.

Now that you know a little about the MLS and what makes one of the most trusted home search sites, contact a REALTOR® and start browsing for properties today!

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