Thursday, April 17, 2008

Staying Informed with the Help of a Realtor

As you begin your house hunting process, you will probably already have a good idea of what type of home you are looking for. For example, you might know the size and style of the home you want to purchase and you might have a general idea of the city or town in which you want to live. Of course, it is important for you to share this information with your Realtor so you can be certain to find the home of your dreams. At the same time, there is plenty of information that your Realtor can provide to you that will also help you in your decision making process. Therefore, you should be certain to ask plenty of questions and to utilize your Realtor's knowledge to the fullest extent possible.

Finding Out About Schools

If you have a family or plan to start a family in the foreseeable future, schooling will likely be quite important to you. Therefore, you might want to ask your Realtor to help you acquire information about the school district you would like to live in. Many Realtors will not guarantee that you will be in a specific school district because these district boundaries can change. Nonetheless, he or she should be willing to help you find out what the current district boundaries are. In addition, the Realtor should be able to help you look up information about the school district, such as the scores the school has received on standardized testing and what the current teacher/student ratio is a the school.

Learning About Utilities

In addition to helping you find school information, your Realtor should also be able to help you learn more about utilities for the home you are considering purchasing. For example, the Realtor can help you find out whether or not the property is served by city water and sanitation. You will also be able to find out who supplies the electricity and gas to the home as well as whether or not cable is available on the property.

Zoning Information

You can also ask your Realtor to provide you with zoning information. If you think you might like to start a business in the home at some point, for example, you might want to look for property that is commercially and residentially zoned. The zoning may also have an impact on the resale value of the home, so it is worth your while to look into this information before making a purchase.

Finding Out About Crime

Your Realtor can also help you learn more about the crime rate in the area you are considering moving to. By finding out about these statistics, you can determine whether or not the property is in a neighborhood where you and your family can feel safe.

Remember, your main purpose is to find a home where you can enjoy living for the next several years and where you can feel comfortable with raising a family if you so desire. Similarly, you want to make a good investment, so take advantage of the knowledge the Realtor possesses so you can get the best of both worlds.

Author Bio: Eric Bramlett is the broker & co-owner of One Source Realty in Austin, Texas. Eric currently manages his Austin Realtor website, his Steiner Ranch Real Estate company's website, & his What is a Realtor website.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Austin TX Sites: Barton Springs Pool

Heated to a constant 68 degrees, Austin’s Barton Springs Pool is a popular swimming hole that can be enjoyed year round. Located in Zilker Park, the pool is fed by water from the Main Barton Spring. Swimming during any season is allowed at the Barton Springs Pool, but costs a small fee in the summer months. With grassy picnic areas nearby and plenty of places to play and relax, Barton Springs is a must-see for every Austin visitor.

Once considered holy by the local Native American tribe, the Tonkawa, the springs were used for bathing and purification ceremonies. When the Spaniards discovered the large springs in the early 1700s, they built a mission near the site. Once settlers moved into the area, the springs became popular tourist attractions, and eventually it evolved into the swimming hot spot it is today. In its current management by the city of Austin, the Barton Springs Pool provides an invigorating and refreshing way to cool off, exercise, hang out and relax. It has quickly evolved into a hangout place for young adults, but bathers of all ages will enjoy themselves at the Barton Springs Pool.

At more than 900 feet long, Barton Springs Pool has a natural gravel bottom and is full of fresh, naturally warmed spring water. With diving boards, stairs and ladders, swimmers can easily enter and exit at several different points around the pool. Summer weekends might find the pool quite crowded, but the spaciousness of the place allows everyone a good refreshing swim no matter what.

Occasionally the pool is closed for safety concerns, such as when there have been heavy rains or the creek that feeds the pool is running high. In these instances, swimmers can call ahead to the Barton Springs Pool to determine if the pool will be opening. The hotline is operating 24 hours per day for the convenience of its guests.

The cost to get into the pool is minimal—just $3 for adults and $2 for young adults 12 to 17 and $1 for children under 12 and senior citizens. The doors open at 5 a.m. and usually close at around 10 p.m. Although the pool is billed as a family-friendly area, topless sunbathing is allowed at the pool and many patrons take advantage of that.

Barton Springs Pool is a wonderful way to combine history and recreation when checking out all the things to see and do in the Austin area. It’s especially easy to see this Austin landmark when it’s a hot Texas afternoon.

Author Bio:

Eric Bramlett is the broker & co-owner of One Source Realty in Austin, Texas. Eric currently manages his Austin Real Estate website, his Austin condominiums company's website, & his Austin Texas website.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Real Estate 101: What You Need to Know Before Closing

So, you have found the house of your dreams and you think you are ready to initiate the closing process. Before you give your Realtor the thumbs up for finalizing the deal, however, there are a few things you should do in order to protect yourself and make sure you are getting a home that will bring lasting memories rather than turn into a money pit. In fact, there are several different types of inspections that you might want to have completed before you sign any type of agreements. Some of these include:

  • Termite inspections
  • Dry rot inspections
  • Asbestos testing
  • Faulty structure inspections
  • Roof condition inspections
  • Septic tank and well testing

Although getting these various inspections completed can cost you a bit of extra cash, it will be well-worth it to know whether or not you are making a solid investment with the home you are purchasing. In addition, with the right Realtor on your side, you might be able to get the seller to pay all or a portion of all of these inspections as a part of your purchase agreement.

Termite and Dry Rot Inspections

One of the worse problems you can face with a home is a termite infestation or dry rot issues. With these problems, the structure of the home can be severely weakened and it can begin to fall apart. Similarly, getting the home fixed after the wood has been destroyed can be a costly endeavor. As your Realtor to insist that the seller complete a termite inspection and provide a guarantee of the soundness of the structure before you finalize the purchase.

Asbestos Testing

You won’t find asbestos in homes that have been recently constructed, but older homes may still have lingering asbestos. You certainly don’t want to purchase a home with asbestos, as it is very dangerous to your health. Similarly, getting asbestos removed can be quite costly. Therefore, it is important to have your Realtor address this issue, particularly if the home you are purchasing is older.

Faulty Structure Inspections

Just as dry rot and termites can wreak havoc upon your home, having a structure that is inherently flawed will cause a great deal of problems to arise in the future. Similarly, if you have problems with your foundation, the structure of your entire home can be at risk. By working with your Realtor and hiring a professional to inspect the craftsmanship of the structure and foundation, you can be rest assured that your future home will be in great shape for years to come.

Septic Tank and Well Testing

If you are moving into a home that does not have city water and sanitation, you will need to rely upon a septic tank for your waste and a well for your water. Ask your Realtor to have these two items inspected in order to make sure they are in good shape and meet current codes. Although you may have to replace your septic and have a new well dug in the future, you shouldn’t have to do either of these two things too soon. Similarly, they should be space far enough apart from each other to prevent contamination. If not, have your Realtor work out the cost of remedying the problem so that the seller pays either all or part of the cost.

Author Bio:

Eric Bramlett is the broker & co-owner of One Source Realty in Austin, Texas. Eric currently manages his Lake Travis Real Estate website, his downtown Austin condos company's website, & his Austin real estate website.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Austin Texas Nature and Science Center

Explore nature at its best at the Austin Nature and Science Center, where visitors can experience exhibits, nature trails and educational events all year long. The nature center has dedicated its resources to educating and instructing Austin citizens on how to appreciate the natural world and experience its wonders.

The Austin Nature and Science Center is home to almost a hundred native animals that are unable to live in the wild. From birds of prey to porcupines, bull snakes and deer, the animals are displayed in all-natural enclosures and receive top quality care and medical attention. The Birds of Prey Exhibit, Small Wonders Exhibit and the Mammals Exhibit are all designed for maximum viewing as well as the ultimate comfort to the animals.

Living animals aren’t the only things worth visiting at the Austin Nature and Science Center. Dinosaur enthusiasts can participate in several activities associated with the center’s paleontology efforts. With a Dino Pit on site, visitors can dig up dinosaur replicas just like the paleontologists do, learning about fossils that are native to Texas. Dinosaur tracks can also be found, and guests can learn all about fossils that once belonged to dinosaurs that roamed the Texas countryside. Visitors of all ages will feel the joy of discovery as ancient creatures are unearthed before their eyes.

The other features of the Austin Nature and Science Center are equally as entertaining. The Discovery Lab is a place where hands-on science labs are set up to explore nature, including botany and geology. The Eco-Detective Trail is a walking trail that winds through natural Texas landscape and treats the visitor to a true outdoor experience. The Sheffield Education Center is the home of the Splash! exhibit, an active aquifer with flora and fauna on display.

Programs, summer mini camps and more await the visitors who are interested in checking out the Austin Nature and Science Center. Several events are hosted annually, and there is always room for special group guests, such as Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Schoolchildren look forward to a visit to the center during field trips, and the center even hosts home school programs. This living museum is an Austin highlight, and the Austin Parks and Recreation Department has highlighted the center as a model for conservation and education.

Whether for an individual, family or group, a visit to the Austin Nature and Science Center is a fine way to spend a day getting to know the natural wonders of Central Texas and experiencing them in a memorable way.

Author Bio:

Eric Bramlett is the broker & co-owner of One Source Realty in Austin, Texas. Eric currently manages his Austin Real Estate website, his Austin condominiums website, & his Austin Texas website.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Austin Texas: Gateway to Hill Country

One of the most popular tourist destinations in Central Texas is Hill Country, a scenic region with amazing natural attractions, quaint country towns and lovely hills and valleys. Austin is the gateway to this fantastic recreational area steeped in history and Southern charm. The Texas Hill Country welcomes more than 5 million tourists each year, and the clear rivers, towering forests and abundant wildflowers are just a few of the reasons they return again and again. From water sports and outdoor activities to shopping and golfing, Texas Hill Country provides a wealth of activities for all ages and interests.

The Texas Hill Country, just minutes from Austin, is full of natural attractions that provide the outdoor enthusiast with many chances to admire the scenery and recreate in Mother Nature’s playground. One of the top attractions is Enchanted Rock, a large natural rock formation more than 400 feet tall. Also top of the list is the Longhorn Caverns, where tours recall the days when outlaws, Native Americans and soldiers used them as shelter. Cool off at Barton Spring Swimming Hole and check out the wildlife at the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch.

Quaint Southern Texas towns provide a glimpse into the rural heritage of the Texas Hill Country. Villages such as Wimberley, San Marcos, Buda, Burnet and Johnson City are all nestled in the rolling hills and provide tourists with shops brimming with handicrafts and antiques and fine dining in restaurants overlooking the natural beauty of the region. Enjoy Texas history at several museums that instruct and educate visitors on everything from early Native American life to cowboys and ranchers. Visit the towns of Bandera, Dripping Springs and Taylor for true historical attractions.

When folks are looking to get out of Austin for a few hours, they head to Hill Country and participate in just a few of the many things to do in the area. There are lakes and rivers that are perfect for swimming, fishing, sailing, boating or tubing. Staying in a bed and breakfast is a wonderful way to get away for a day or a weekend. Check out historically important architecture in any of the Main Streets in the smaller cities in Hill Country, or hike, bike and camp in any of the national and state parks in the area. Visitors to the area can even take wine tours, guided ranch tours and art gallery tours if that is the kind of recreation they enjoy.

While Hill Country is located in the center of Texas, it’s easy to see why the area is considered the heart of this great state. The lush abundance of natural resources and Southern hospitality creates a unique combination of relaxation and rejuvenation. Using Austin as a base to explore this amazing region is a wonderful idea for those seeking to maximize their time in Texas Hill Country.

Author Bio:
Eric Bramlett is the broker & co-owner of One Source Realty in Austin, Texas. Eric currently manages his Lake Travis Real Estate website, his Austin real estate company's website, & his Austin real estate blog.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Golf Courses In and Around Austin Texas

Austin’s mild winter temperatures ensure that golf enthusiasts will be able to play on the greens all year long. The city has plenty of quality courses to inspire even the most beginning golfer, and the diverse natural beauty of the area provides a perfect backdrop to head outdoors. Austin has more than 20 golf courses in and around the area. From resort courses to public courses and driving ranges, the Austin golfer will be able to find something that is perfectly suited to his needs.

There are several public golf courses that are within minutes of downtown Austin. For scenic and challenging 18-hole courses, try the Falconhead Golf Club, open all week long and is considered one of the top courses in the area. The Teravista Golf Course is a 7,200 yard championship golf course. Just 5 minutes from Austin’s downtown area, the Riverside Golf Course caters to locals and visitors alike, and has hosted golf champions like Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw. The Avery Ranch Golf Course, the Lakeway Live Oak Golf Course Austin, the Roy Kizer Golf Course Austin are also considered premier municipal courses that give golfers the opportunity to play on courses that can be appreciated at any level. All are located in Austin, so accessing these public courses is convenient.

Austin is also the home to several semi-private and resort courses, and the experience of playing at one of these courses is unparalleled as far as amenities go. The Wolfdancer Golf Club is located amid the rolling hills of Lost Pines, just east of Austin. Its world class golf in a spectacular setting, and should not be missed. The ColoVista Golf course is the top semi-private course in the Austin area. With recognition for its challenging 18-hole course, the ColoVista has been ranked as one of the best new courses in Texas. Beautifully manicured greens beckon the golf enthusiast, and a membership is all that is needed to relax and go for par. The River Place Country Club is an exclusive location west of downtown Austin, and the immaculate landscaping and attention to detail is worth the membership. The 18-hole championship course was designed by Tom Kite, and takes advantage of the hills, valleys and waterways to give the golfer an amazing game experience in a luxurious resort atmosphere.

For those interested in working on driving, Austin has several driving ranges that are suited to golfers looking to squeeze in a few minutes hitting a bucket of balls. The Oak Hills Driving Range is the perfect place to accommodate beginners seeking to improve or advanced pros looking to perfect their swing. Either way, the Oak Hills Driving Range can help out with the driving range, pro shop or even provide lessons.

Austin golf courses, whether public or private, are interested in catering to the needs of guests. Whether it’s a weekend game with friends or a business deal that can be made on the green, spending time on Austin’s golf courses is a fine way to experience Texas Hill Country at its finest.

Author Bio:
Eric Bramlett is the broker & co-owner of One Source Realty in Austin, Texas. Eric currently manages his Austin Real Estate website, his Austin real estate blog, & his Austin condos website.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Reasons to Use a Realtor When Selling Your Home

When the time comes to sell your home, it seems like your To Do list is a mile long. The house has to be immaculate inside and out, the hoards of potential buyers are beating on your door, and the legal and financial details of the home sale process loom. Don’t be tempted to handle this situation by yourself; instead, make your life infinitely easier and use a Realtor® to help you sell your home.

The lure of saving money is a strong one. Most Realtors® charge between 5% and 7% on commission. As the seller, this comes out of your proceeds at closing. I know you’re doing the math right now, and thinking that there’s no way that using a Realtor® is worth anywhere near this much money. However, it truly is worth every penny; here are the top 3 reasons why you should use a Realtor® when selling your home.

1. The Security of Your Family and Home

You cannot put a value on the security of your family and home. You want your family to be safe in your home without having to worry. But remember when I mentioned the hoards of potential buyers for your home? If you sell your home yourself, you have to meet with each one of these buyers by yourself. The problem is you never know who these people really are. It’s horrific to consider, but it has happened where people have gone to a home on the premise of looking to purchase it and instead have committed a crime.

When you use a Realtor®, you don’t have to meet with the potential buyers and thus expose yourself and your family to possible harm. Instead, each person that enters your home is accompanied by a licensed Realtor®. This helps you twofold. First, because the person is in your home with a Realtor®, you and your family don’t need to be there. This mitigates the risk of someone harming you while in your home. Secondly, the chance of someone committing a crime against your property, either through theft or vandalism, is drastically reduced by their Realtor® being present.

2. The Value of Your Time

Let’s backup for the moment to a point I mentioned previously – the hassle of dealing with potential buyers. When you sell your home yourself, you’re the sole contact with potential buyers. If someone wants information, they contact you. This means your phone will be ringing constantly. And you can’t just ignore these calls; if you do, your house will take even longer to sell.

Even better…remember the part about keeping your house immaculate? When you sell your home yourself, this has to be true 100% of the time. People can and will pull up outside your home and demand to look inside at any time of the day or night. If you ask them to come back at a more convenient time, you could easily lose a sale.

But by using a Realtor®, this hassle is saved and your time is reaffirmed to be as valuable as you and I both know that it is. Your Realtor® handles all the phone calls, and is specially trained in how to answer these calls professionally without compromising the sale of your home. And your Realtor® coordinates the showings with other Realtors®, leaving you with specific times for the showings. This will allow you to relax and enjoy the time you have remaining in your home.

3. The Value of Peace of Mind for the Future

Selling a home is a complicated legal and financial prospect. Sure, you can buy generic forms to fill out for the Purchase Agreement and everything else needed. But what assurance do you have that they’re filled out in a way that protects you for the future? After all, you certainly don’t want to deal with a lawsuit five years from now with your buyer saying that you made an error in the paperwork on the transaction.

When you hire a Realtor®, they shoulder this burden. Realtors are required to carry what’s known as Errors & Omissions insurance. This insurance protects you from such little errors. If there’s a problem, the insurance company is who works to resolve the situation, not you.

Eric Bramlett is the broker & co-owner of One Source Realty in Austin, Texas. Eric currently manages his Austin Real Estate, his Lake Travis real estate company's website, & his Austin condos website.
So don’t succumb to the lure of saving the commission money. Hiring a Realtor® is the absolute best thing you can do as you prepare to sell your home.