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It’s time for Part Two of How to Become a Homesnap Pro! (Here’s Part One, ICYMI). As a reminder, Homesnap is part of the ABoR MLS Mobile Suite and all ABoR MLS subscribers have access to a free Homesnap Pro account.

What does a Homesnap Pro account do?

  • Allows you to access MLS-only data within the app (the information you see in yellow within the Homesnap app)
  • Share your app with clients, making you their direct contact when they search for homes
  • Simple, integrated messaging with other agents and clients within the app

Here are some step-by-step instructions to claim your Homesnap Pro account!

Now, back to becoming a Homesnap Pro. These features below are ripped straight from the Homesnap Pro User Guide.

Rapid CMA

A Rapid CMA report is a quick way to help you share general market statistics on a property.

  1. Click on "Send a Rapid CMA"

2. Confirm details of the property

3. Select up to three similar listings marked "For Sale"

4. Select up to three Sold Comps

5. Enter email address and personalize CMA

REALTOR® Safety Timer

How does it work?

When you arrive at a showing, open the listing in Homesnap to set a Safety Timer. (Note: You must be within 2000 yards of the home in order for a timer to appear.)

 

These quick tips should help you get started on the road to being a Homesnap Pro...pro! Again, check out the Homesnap Pro User Guide for more helpful information. You can also email support@abor.com with any questions you have.

Good luck out there!

The post How to be a Homesnap Pro: Part Two appeared first on The Austin Board of REALTORS®.

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Our Affiliate Club members are some of the best in the industry, so we're excited to put the spotlight on them for our Affiliate Club Member Spotlight Series on the ABoR.com blog! This month, get to know Austin Title, Austin's leading title insurance and escrow provider for both residential and commercial transactions.

Austin Title
Silver Affiliate Club Member

 

Josh Williams, Austin Title

Q: Tell us a little about Austin Title and what sets you apart from a typical title company?
A: Our staff is really what sets us apart. We've been doing business in Austin since 1953 and our average tenure is over ten years. To me, that says depth and experience.

Q: What should a consumer look for when choosing a title company?
A: There's a lot of bewilderment surrounding the title business. Most consumers aren't exactly sure what we do or what protection we provide. When choosing a title company, you can compare it to buying any other type of insurance policy — you want someone with experience who can explain the process and the policy and assure that they can and will pay claims. We have a long standing track record of both. All that said, the consumer can always refer to their REALTOR® for advice on which title companies to consider.

Q: What is the biggest mistake you see homebuyers make when it comes to title insurance?
A: In today's world, I would say wiring funds without calling first to verify wiring instructions. Fraud is rampant right now. Consumers should assume that fraudsters are watching every email when transacting, so do not send wires without calling to verify wiring instructions first.

Q: What resources does Austin Title offer to help Austin REALTOR® work faster and smarter?
A: We have tons of resources all of which are available on our website. I would say the most popular is Austin Title Agent, which is PITI and net sheet calculator app. REALTORS® can call any of our development representatives to receive the app.

Q: Are there any big changes (interest rate increases, exchange updates, etc.) that REALTORS® and consumers need to know about?
A: Currently, the biggest changes are how we're doing business differently to protect the consumer from fraud. I won't publicize that info for the fraudsters, but you can call one of our escrow officers for more information. I would also mention E-Closings, which are on the horizon.

 

The post Affiliate Club Member Spotlight: May 2018 appeared first on The Austin Board of REALTORS®.

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Home sales, prices continue to climb throughout Austin-Round Rock MSA in April
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Inventory remains critically low for most price classes

AUSTIN, TX–The Austin-area housing market’s declining inventory and robust sales trends are creating an increasingly competitive housing market across all price classes, according to the latest Central Texas Housing Market Report from the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR).

“In the Austin-Round Rock MSA, price classes across the board are seeing an increase in demand with a decrease in inventory,” Steve Crorey, 2018 president of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, said. “While new listings are up year-over-year, homes are selling faster than they can be listed on the market. This has led to a smaller number of active listings and an increasingly competitive market for homebuyers.”

Within the Austin-Round Rock MSA, new listings increased 5.6 percent to 4,139 listings; active listings decreased 2.8 percent to 6,154 listings; and pending sales rose 14.3 percent to 3,320 pending sales. The median price of single-family homes in the Austin-Round Rock MSA increased 3.8 percent year-over-year to $316,000 in April 2018. Housing inventory decreased 0.2 months year-over-year to 2.4 months of inventory during the same time frame.

“The desire to live in the city of Austin continues to drive home sales,” Mark Sprague, state director of information capital for Independence Title, said. “Inventory levels for luxury homes priced at $700,000 or higher have decreased year-over-year, and the inventory for homes priced under $500,000 continues to decline in Austin. As a result, we’re seeing locals purchase more homes in the suburbs. However, the real estate landscape continues to be strong compared to most major cities in the country.”

In the Austin-Round Rock MSA, homes priced between $150,000 and $250,000 stayed on the market, on average, fewer than 35 days. In the city of Austin, single-family homes in this price range spent, on average, between 20 and 33 days on the market in April 2018, indicating a continued inventory shortage amidst strong demand for this price category. The Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University cites the affordable threshold for entry-level homebuyers as $200,000 or less.

"If it's a desirable home or located near a desirable location, especially if it's in the city of Austin, the time spent on the market can be much lower," Crorey said.

City of Austin

In the city of Austin, single-family homes spent an average of 37 days on the market, four more days than April 2017. Single-family home sales increased 7.4 percent from April 2017 to 859 sales and the median price for single-family home sales increased in April by 9.3 percent year-over-year to $390,000. Housing inventory decreased from 2.1 months of inventory in April 2017 to 1.7 months of inventory in April 2018.

Travis County

In April, single-family home sales in Travis County increased 6.4 percent year-over-year to 1,324 sales. The median price for single-family homes in Travis County grew 7.1 percent year-over-year to $380,143 in April. Housing inventory decreased by 0.3 months from the previous April to 2.3 months of inventory.

In Pflugerville, sales decreased 11.9 percent to 104 home sales, while the median price of single-family homes increased 1.7 percent to $259,200.

Williamson County

 Williamson County experienced a 7.6 percent increase in sales volume year-over-year to 904 home sales. During the same time frame, the median price for single-family homes increased 3.6 percent to $285,000. Inventory of single-family homes in Williamson County decreased slightly from last year’s 2.4 months of inventory to 2.3 months of inventory in April 2018.

In Leander, April home sales experienced no percentage change from year-over-year, remaining at 97 sales. The median price of single-family homes slightly increased 1.8 percent year-over-year to $280,000. In Cedar Park, April home sales volume decreased 11.9 percent to 89 sales. At the same time, the median price of Cedar Park homes increased 11.2 percent year-over-year to $339,000. Round Rock experienced a surge in sales from last April—30.9 percent—to 178 sales, while the median home price increased 8.1 percent to $275,000.

Hays County

April home sales in Hays County decreased 8.5 percent to 281 home sales compared to the previous year. At the same time, median home price declined 6.8 percent to $247,000. Inventory of single-family homes in Hays County remained unchanged at 2.8 months of inventory from the previous April.

Locally, home sales in Buda dropped 19.6 percent year-over-year to 37 sales, but the median home price increased 14 percent to $285,000. Kyle experienced a double-digit increase in sales—an 11.9 percent increase to 75 sales—compared to the previous April. The median price increased 2.7 percent to $215,500 during the same time frame.

Crorey concluded: “If you’re planning on buying or selling a home this year, it’s important to enlist the help of a Central Texas REALTOR®. REALTORS® are local market experts who can walk clients through the necessary steps of the purchasing or selling process, and we ascribe to a Code of Ethics that requires us to advocate on our clients’ behalf and in their best interest. Homebuyers and sellers can find a Central Texas REALTOR® at AustinHomeSearch.com.

The post April 2018 Market Report appeared first on The Austin Board of REALTORS®.

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Last month's Central Texas Housing Market Report showed that home sales are already heating up, indicating a strong summer selling season ahead of us. To make sure you’re ready to take on new clients and are up-to-speed on the industry’s latest trends, register for one of our May Academy courses! Members can look forward to classes which will surely bring the heat to your business and brand. Check out our May Academy picks below and register for all Academy courses at ABoR.com/Calendar.

Fight Your Texas Tax Appraisal and Win!
May 10 | ABoR HQ | 10:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
TREC# 32315 | 4 CE hours | Provider #0127, ABoR

Increase your chances of success in fighting an incorrect property tax appraisal by taking this popular course! Full of practical information, you'll gain insight into the appraisal process and strategies and techniques to help you win your case.

Military Relocation Professional Certification
May 16 | ABoR HQ | 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
TREC# 32625 | 8 CE hours | Provider # 0001, TAR

You'll learn how to work with current and former military service members to find the housing solutions that best suit their needs, in this course. Students will learn how to provide the real estate services at any stage in the service member’s military career, that meet the needs of this niche market. Please note: this course requires two 1-hour post class webinars and a $195 fee when you submit your certification application.

Resort and Second Home Markets (RSPS)
May 31 | ABoR HQ | 8:30 a .m. – 5:00 p.m.
TREC# 32074 | 8 CE hours | Provider #0001, TAR

What does this course cover?

  • The essentials of buying, selling, or managing resort properties and second homes for recreation
  • The global impact of these properties on real estate as an investment, recreational and/or vacation destination and how to develop a client base for this niche market

Whether you're looking to get your real estate license or become a broker, ABoR is here to help! Our prep course is a comprehensive two-day course designed for those ready to obtain their real estate or broker's license. Your instructor will guide you through organized curriculum and key facts to remember when taking the test. The practice testing section consists of ten national practice tests, six state practice tests, and one state exam sample test.

May 18 – 19
8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
ABoR HQ

Join the ABoR Academy and national industry speaker Craig Grant for our inaugural Digital Day on Thursday, May 31! In two back-to-back classes, Craig will show you how to optimize the online presence of both your business and your brand. REALTORS® will earn 6 CE hours for attending both courses. Take advantage of early bird pricing (through May 17) and save $10!

Thursday, May 31
9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
ABoR HQ

Residential property leasing and management is one of the fastest-growing segments of our industry. If you've already obtained your Texas Residential Leasing Specialist designation and are looking to take the next step in your career, consider earning a Texas Residential Property Manager (TRPM) Certification. You'll gain knowledge on current business issues impacting property management, how to mediate tenant and owner relations, and the ins-and-outs of the TAR Property Management Agreement. Interested? Sign up for courses below and earn your TRPM certification in just three days!

Property Management Business Issues
May 22 | ABoR HQ | 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
TREC# 31674 | 3 CE hours | Provider #0001, TAR
 
TAR Residential Leasing and Property Management Agreement
May 22 | ABoR HQ | 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
TREC# 31671 | 3 CE hours | Provider #0001, TAR
 
Residential Evictions
May 23 | ABoR HQ | 9:00 a.m.  – 12:00 p.m.
TREC# 31673 | 3 CE hours | Provider #0001, TAR
 
Tenant and Owners Relations
May 23 | ABoR HQ | 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
TREC# 31672 | 3 CE hours | Provider #0001, TAR
 
Maintenance and Habitability of Residential Rentals
May 24 | ABoR HQ | 9:00 a.m.  – 12:00 p.m.
TREC# 31670 | 3 CE hours | Provider #0001, TAR
 

Statutory Acts and Contingency Planning
May 24 | ABoR HQ | 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
TREC# 31669 | 3 CE hours | Provider #0001, TAR

 

The post Our May Academy Course Picks appeared first on The Austin Board of REALTORS®.

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Welcome to the May 2018 President’s Corner!

In just a few minutes, you can get caught up on all of the major happenings in and around ABoR.

President's Corner, May 2018 - YouTube

ABoR Board of Directors and TAR Leadership Applications Open Next Tuesday, May 15

Interested in applying to serve on the ABoR Board of Directors or in a TAR leadership position? The nominating period will open next Tuesday, May 15. Applications will be accepted through June 30. Keep an eye out for an email from ABoR next Monday with more information eligibility requirements and how to apply.

This year's Board of Directors election cycle includes the new nominating and election process that was approved via ABoR membership vote last month. I encourage all of our members to visit ABoR.com/bylaws to review the new changes and check out our new Board of Directors Election timeline. You can also find a list of FAQs on our new nominating process here.

ABoR Foundation Bestows $56,000 in Scholarships to Central Texas Students

Last Thursday, the ABoR Foundation awarded college scholarships to 25 Central Texas students last week totaling $56,000! This is one of the highest cumulative scholarship amounts ever bestowed by the ABoR Foundation and is made possible thanks to the incredible generosity of ABoR Foundation donors. Recipients were selected based on academic merit, financial need, and interviews with a panel of judges.

2018 Summer Fan Drive Open Now Through August 30

Let’s keep up the momentum of giving back by having a big REALTOR® turnout for the Family Eldercare Summer Fan Drive, which kicked off on May 1. We all know how hot Texas summers can be. That's why the ABoR Foundation and Family Eldercare have partnered together to provide fans to Austin's most vulnerable residents and we need your help!

Donate a new 20" fan, a new 12" oscillating fan, or monetary donation to any AMLI Property or ABoR location now until August 31. Last year, 6,700 fans were distributed to over 3,200 households. Will you help us exceed our goal this year? Learn more and donate at ABoR.com/FanDrive.

Don't Miss These May ABoR Events!

The spring housing market isn’t slowing down, and neither are your ways to get involved at ABoR. Here are the events you don’t want to miss:

May 10: MLS Feedback Series iMLS Focus Group
The ABoR MLS is asking for your input on MLS products we offer (and even some we don't) by signing up for one of our exclusive focus groups. With the great role international real estate is playing in our industry, our first focus group on Thursday, May 10 will center around iMLS, a global listing distribution tool. Register for the iMLS Focus Group here. You can also take our MLS Feedback Series Survey to volunteer to participate in future focus groups this year.

May 15: April 2018 Central Texas Housing Market Report
ABoR will release the April 2018 edition of the Central Texas Housing Market next Tuesday, April 15 on ABoR.com. Check ABoR.com/statsapr18 that morning to download the full report as well as shareable infographics for the Austin-Round Rock MSA; City of Austin; and Hays, Travis and, Williamson Counties.

May 18-19: Texas Real Estate Licensing Exam Prep Course
If you're interested in obtaining your real estate or broker's license, ABoR is offering a two-day Texas Real Estate Licensing Exam Prep Course on May 18-19 at ABoR HQ. The $90 course, which is highly recommended by previous students who have passed the exam, includes six practice tests and the option to retake classes for up to one year for free.

May 23: Spring Fiesta! REALTOR® + Affiliate Happy Hour
Celebrate spring at our Affiliate/REALTOR® Happy Hour on Wednesday, May 23 at 5:30 p.m. at ABoR HQ. Hosted by ABoR and AYREP, this FREE event will provide both REALTOR® and Affiliate members with professional headshots and chances to win prizes throughout the evening! There will be free drinks, great food, fantastic networking, and more! Register here.

May 30: Charting Our Course: ABoR May Town Hall
The Board of Directors has embarked on a process to modernize our Association's bylaws and make them more aligned with how our industry and our Association operate today. We're holding our May Town Hall to give members the opportunity to learn more and weigh in about this important process. And if you've ever wondered how our bylaws and governance policies work, you'll learn about that, too! Register at ABoR.com/MayTownHall.

May 31: ABoR Academy Digital Day
Growing consumer demands for immediacy and integrated technology are making digital expertise a must for today's real estate agent. Join the ABoR Academy for our inaugural Digital Day on Thursday, May 31 at ABoR HQ. Real Estate Tech Guru Craig Grant will lead two back-to-back classes that will teach you how to optimize the online presence of both your business and your brand. Earn 6 CE hours for attending both courses and save $10 by registering before May 17! Learn more at ABoR.com/DigitalDay.

Save the Date: Realty Roundup 2018

It's that time again! Pack your bags and hop in the car because we're taking The Great American Road Trip to Realty Round Up 2018, Wednesday, October 17! Maximize your event exposure to real estate professionals with event advertising. Booth prices and advertising opportunities are available to view and purchase on ABoRRoundUp.com. General admission ticket sales will go live on August 1, 2018.

The next ABoR Board Meeting is Wednesday, June 6. Join us in person, or via live stream at abor.com/board-livestream! You must enter your member credentials to view the live stream. 

As always, I welcome your feedback, comments, and ideas. If you have questions, you can reach out to me anytime on Facebook or email me directly at president@abor.com.

Thank you,
Steve Crorey
2018 ABoR President

The post May 2018 President's Corner appeared first on The Austin Board of REALTORS®.

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Homestead exemptions. Property appraisals. Appraisal protests. As a REALTOR®, you’re probably pretty familiar with these concepts. Your clients, however, might not be.

Property tax season is fast approaching and with the Texas Legislature’s recent decision to change the deadline to file an appeal to Tuesday, May 15th, you and your clients have less time than ever to navigate what can seem like an intimidating and complicated process. It is important that homeowners know the ins-and-outs of the property tax appraisal and protest process.

To provide your clients with an in-depth understanding of the appraisal and protest process, we’d like to invite you to attend one of our upcoming Property Tax Workshops.

April 28th, 2018
ABoR South Office
11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m

May 2nd, 2018
Milwood Public Library
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

May 4th, 2018
ABoR HQ
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

May 8th, 2018
Spicewood Springs Library
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

May 10th, 2018
Twin Oaks Public Library
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Each workshop will be facilitated by a trained REALTOR® and will offer homeowners tips and tricks on how to effectively protest property tax appraisals. We look forward to seeing you at one of these workshops!

The post Get the 411 on Property Appraisals and More appeared first on The Austin Board of REALTORS®.

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Central Texas housing market ends quarter with strong sales
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City of Austin 1.31 MB
Hays County 510.71 KB
Travis County 526.99 KB
Williamson County 517.84 KB

Single-family homes spent less time on the market

AUSTIN, TX–The Austin housing market continues to show increased demand, with double-digit percent increases in sales in March 2018 according to the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR). The Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) experienced a 10.5 percent increase in sales compared to the same time last year, the March 2018 Central Texas Housing Market Report found.

“Last month, 2,714 single-family homes were sold in the five-county Central Texas region, which is more sales than any March we’ve seen on record,” Steve Crorey, 2018 president of the Austin Board of REALTORS®, said. “This type of growth early in the year indicates a strong summer selling season ahead. Those who are interested in buying or selling a home this summer should seek out the services of a REALTOR®.”

In the Austin-Round Rock MSA, the median price of single-family homes increased 3.5 percent to $305,233. Housing inventory levels decreased 0.2 months from March 2017 to 2.2 months of inventory.

“Historically, it’s common for some homes to be on the market for 50 days or more, even in markets with strong housing demand,” Crorey, said. “Within the city of Austin and other local markets with limited inventory, homes are spending a fraction of time on the market—as little as two weeks in some areas. This is an indicator of just how competitive it’s become to purchase a home in and around Austin.”

In the Austin-Round Rock MSA, homes priced between $150,000-$250,000 stayed on the market less than 50 days on average. In the city of Austin, single-family homes in this price range spent, on average, between 27-35 days on the market in March 2018 due to the critically low supply of homes within Austin.

“Demand for homes priced below $250,000 is driving the emergence of new submarkets like Manor and Del Valle, where builders can construct homes at a lower cost,” Vaike O’Grady, Austin regional director for Metrostudy, said. “We’re also seeing creative land plans that provide common area open space to offset smaller lot and home sizes. Attached single-family homes are also coming to the market to meet buyer demand for more affordable housing.”

City of Austin

In the city of Austin, single-family homes spent an average of 46 days on the market, or five fewer days than March 2017. Single-family home sales increased 8.5 percent from March 2017 to 831 sales. The median price for single-family homes remained flat in March, with a 0.1 percent year-over-year increase. Housing inventory decreased from 1.7 months of inventory in March 2017 to 1.5 months of inventory this year.

Travis County

In March, single-family home sales in Travis County increased 12.8 percent year-over-year to 1,388 sales. The median price for single-family homes in Travis County grew 1.4 percent year-over-year to $355,000 in March. Housing inventory decreased by 0.2 months from the previous March to 2.1 months of inventory.

Single-family home sales increased in Manor to 41 home sales, while the median price increased 6.5 percent year-over-year to $195,900. In Pflugerville, sales decreased 17 percent to 83 home sales, while median price of single-family homes increased 6.8 percent to $251,500.

Williamson County

Williamson County experienced a 9.1 percent increase in sales volume year-over-year to 915 home sales. During the same time frame, the median price for single-family homes increased 4.6 percent to $277,383. Inventory of single-family homes in Williamson County decreased slightly from last year’s 2.3 months of inventory to 2.2 months of inventory in March 2018.

In Leander, March sales jumped 33 percent to 125 sales, while the median price of single-family homes increased 22 percent year-over-year to $297,500. Cedar Park experienced opposite results: March sales volume decreased 28.8 percent to 84 sales. The median price of Cedar Park homes increased 8.1 percent year-over-year to $319,000. Round Rock experienced a subtle bump in sales from last March—2.5 percent—to 167 sales, while median home price increased 7 percent to $259,000.

 Hays County

March sales in Hays County increased 2.8 percent to 293 home sales compared to the previous year, with a similar annual increase in the median home price—2 percent—to $260,000. Inventory of single-family homes in Hays County remained unchanged at 2.6 months of inventory from the previous March.

Sales in Buda decreased 35.1 percent year-over-year to 24 sales, but the median home price increased 7.4 percent to $280,000.

“So far, Buda’s sales are lower this year due to a lack of supply of new homes,” O’Grady, said. “Shoppers are moving farther from Austin in search of affordable homes, which is driving sales in Kyle.”

Kyle experienced a significant increase in sales—a 19.7 percent increase to 85 sales—compared to the previous March. The median price increased 8.4 percent to $225,000.

The post March 2018 Market Report appeared first on The Austin Board of REALTORS®.

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This article was repurposed from March/April 2018 issue of Austin REALTOR®.

Austin’s progressive reputation seems to precede itself. So much so that Former Governor Rick Perry once famously described Austin as “the blueberry in the tomato soup”. Perry and many others see Austin as a liberal hotbed (with all of the diversity and political correctness that implies) in the middle of deep red Texas. As much as we would like to pat ourselves on the back for our city’s apparent inclusivity and progressive posture, history tells a different story.

As is discussed in depth in this magazine’s cover story, the city of Austin adopted “A City Plan for Austin Texas” in 1928, which strongly reinforced racial segregation by designating an official “negro district.” The plan was written to skirt the unanimous Supreme Court decision in Buchanan v. Warley (1917), which held that civil government-instituted racial segregation in residential areas was unconstitutional. Instead of outright creating zoning laws that mandated segregation, the plan encouraged the development of facilities and conveniences provided to the “negro population” as an incentive to draw people to this area. City records show that within four years, nearly the entire black population had moved to the so-called “negro district”.

Unfortunately, the 1928 plan is not the only blemish in Austin’s past. Following the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Austin was set to be the first city to pass an ordinance that aimed to protect against housing-based discrimination. The ordinance passed, but did not last long.

A group of well-heeled activists, including the Austin Board of REALTORS®, opposed the measure and forced a vote on the ordinance. On October 19, 1968, Austin’s fair housing ordinance was overturned with 57% of the vote. Austin was without a local fair housing ordinance until 1992.

While these overt discriminatory measures are gone, their legacy can still be seen today. Under Austin’s current land development code, neighborhoods across the city are not treated with equity with regard to development or new housing. It seems there is much more deference given to neighborhood groups in central and west Austin than in east Austin. This has led to widespread gentrification on Austin’s east side and a dwindling African-American population. While Austin as a whole thrives, it remains one of the most economically segregated cities in the United States – a direct result of the city’s failure to confront its disreputable history.

It is not easy to confront the ghosts of our city’s past, but is necessary. We must look back in order to move forward. This is why Imagine Austin, the comprehensive plan adopted by City Council in 2012, pays special attention to the effects of the 1928 plan. With that in mind, CodeNEXT, the comprehensive land development code rewrite, should no longer protect the status quo. The current code is what is leading to a staunch lack of affordability and forcing families and longtime Austinites to find housing outside the city limits. It has

The results of CodeNEXT should allow for appropriate development and increased density along corridors and in compatible areas. Many will decry CodeNEXT as something that will destroy their own neighborhood’s character, but the diversity of housing types and residents will only enhance neighborhood character, not destroy it.

Decoding CodeNEXT: ABoR's Got Your Back

In order to equip our members with easy-to-understand and easy-to-share information, our team has created a user-friendly webpage that includes bite-size facts and figures, advocacy positions, explainer videos, FAQs and more. We hope this will be a valuable tool for our members so you can educate yourselves, and in turn, your clients. To that end, we're excited to announce our brand new CodeNEXT site, abor.com/codenext!

We hope you find this information valuable and are happy to hear feedback and answer questions at codenext@abor.com.

Here's How You Can Help Move Austin Forward

Advocacy efforts like our CodeNEXT campaign are made possible thanks to you — the REALTOR® member — by supporting TREPAC. Join us Tuesday, April 24 at 6:00 p.m. for TREPAC Beer Tasting! Come mingle with friends old and new while sampling Austin Beerworks' Core Four beers and seasonal offerings. There will be cornhole, samplings from Austin Beerworks' food truck, an optional brewery tour, and a silent auction benefitting TREPAC.

The post Austin's Past and Future Decoded appeared first on The Austin Board of REALTORS®.

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Our Affiliate Club members are some of the best in their industry, so we're excited to launch the new Affiliate Club Member Spotlight Series on the ABoR.com blog! This month, get to know Austin Energy, Vista360health, and Veterans United Home Loans.

Austin Energy
Platinum Affiliate Club Member

Q: What are some rumors you can dispell about for-profit utility companies and what makes Austin Energy unique from others?
A: Unlike for-profit utilities, we want our customers’ utility bills to be as low as possible. Because of local control, Austin Energy is able to make business decisions that are important to our customers, such as allocating millions of dollars to help low-income residents pay their utility bills. And through energy efficiency education and rebates, we empower the community to take steps to reduce energy use where they live, work and play.

Q: Does Austin Energy provide renewable energy options for Austin residents?
A: We are committed to harnessing the power of the sun and the wind to provide carbon-free power to our customers. In fact, Austin Energy helped create the wind power industry in Texas and is leading the development of the solar industry, with a commitment to achieve 55% renewable generation resources by 2025. And let's not forget, we give our customers the choice to power their homes or businesses with 100% wind energy.

Q: What are some ways you give back to the community?
A: Austin Energy is funded by our revenues, not taxes. We use our annual "dividends" to support important City services such as streetlights, parks, libraries and public safety. These local investments help drive economic growth and contribute to the Austin area's attractive and vibrant quality of life. After all, what would Austin be without Zilker Park?

Q: How has the Austin Energy Green Building program shaped the way Austin residents live?
A: Both Austin and Austin Energy know how to do things differently. Austin Energy Green Building was the first program of its kind in the United States and was the impetus for creating the U.S. Green Building Council and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratings. As we look to the future, we see an Austin where sustainable buildings are the standard, not a novelty. Since the program began in 1991, we have rated a whopping 12,700 homes - proving that a greener Austin starts at home.

Vista360health
Affiliate Club Member Stacey Aikman, Vista360health

Q: Tell us about Vista360health. What sets you apart from a typical healthcare provider?
A: Vista360health is an Austin-born HMO health plan bringing a refreshing alternative to health coverage for Central Texans. Say, what?!

Q: What is the benefit of utilizing telehealth services?
With Vista360health’s free telemedicine benefit, all members of our health plans get at no cost what many other health plans make you pay for in some way. Even better, you get a real and local Austin doctor on the line to listen and to respond to your medical issue.

Why miss work and have to make up hours or lose income? Why drag the kids with you or have to find a sitter? Why fight traffic to only have to wait in a doctor’s office? Often the help you need doesn’t require a physician face-to-face. By phone, Vista360health members can have a doctor treat common illnesses, infections, allergies and minor injuries. And not having to see a doctor in person or getting the right medical advice that will keep you from an unnecessary ER visit, saves you time and $$$!

Q: Can I use Vista360health in conjunction with my existing health insurance provider?
No. Vista360health is an HMO health plan.

Q: What benefits can REALTORS® gain in utilizing Vista360health services?
We launched Vista360health with the goal of providing quality health insurance coverage to those underserved in the current healthcare environment — namely, small businesses and individuals that do not meet the income requirements for subsidized healthcare. REALTORS® and other small business owners and entrepreneurs are an important part of the economy of Austin, yet, healthcare options are often overpriced or lacking sufficient coverage.

Vista360health offers competitively priced health plans with a broad network of quality providers and additional benefits like free telemedicine. Not to mention, we’re locally-based and focused on our local customers which means you are a priority.

Veterans United Home Loans
Affiliate Club Member Chad Bowman, Veterans United Home Loans

Q: What sets Veterans United Home Loans apart from other loan companies?
A: Easy. We only do Veterans Affairs (VA) loans.  And VA loans are all I have done for the last 14 years in Austin. I teach the VA classes (Home Loans for Veterans and MRP) for ABoR and we are THE local resource when Realtors have questions about VA and Texas Vet loans.

Q: What home financing options exist for veteran homebuyers and their families?
A: Mainly the VA home loan benefit for purchasing or refinancing.  VA is still zero down with no mortgage insurance and interest rates lower than conventional loans.  We also do a lot with the Texas Veteran Housing Assistance Program (VHAP) which helps veterans with a disability rating (30% or more) get a lower than the market interest rate. 

Q: What are some of the biggest challenges facing veteran homebuyers and sellers today?
A: For veterans buying a house, it’s getting their offer taken seriously and not ignored, which happens sometimes because there are so many misconceptions about VA loans.  How we help here is by getting on the phone with the Listing Agent and directly addressing their concerns about VA loans.  It also helps to have a pre-approval letter from a local VA Loan Specialist when you are making an offer.  Many home buyers are also facing the challenge of credit report issues.  At Veterans United, we offer all veterans a free credit counseling program to assist them with credit issues so that credit does not get in their way of buying a home.

Q: What do Central Texas REALTORS® need to know about your organization?
A: That VA loans are all we do each and every day.  That we do not charge any lender fees on VA loans.  That we want YOU to be the hero for your military veteran customers and we’ve made it our mission to guide you and your clients through the entire VA loan process to make sure that happens.  We cover the entire state of Texas from our local Austin office.  Check out AustinVALoans.com if you are looking for a VA partner!

The post Affiliate Club Member Spotlight: April 2018 appeared first on The Austin Board of REALTORS®.

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Summary

On April 4, 2018, the ABoR Board of Directors passed a motion to update our bylaws. These changes represent increased opportunities for our members to directly engage in selecting the future leaders of our Association. The adjusted Nominating Committee structure diversifies the voices involved in vetting potential candidates.

Specifically, these proposed changes impact Articles XI-XIII on pages 15-21 of the bylaws and include:

  1. Holding an annual Board of Directors election to ensure our members’ voices are always heard;
  2. Refining the Nominating Committee makeup and scope to accommodate the annual membership vote and ensure the committee membership is more reflective of our membership at large;
  3. Reducing the number of signatures required from 5% to 1% of ABoR membership to secure a Board of Directors slate nomination by way of petition; and
  4. Moving the nomination of the Secretary/Treasurer and President-Elect from the Nominating Committee and place it in the authority of the Board of Directors.

To take effect, these proposed changes must be approved by a majority vote of ABoR REALTOR® members. To review these proposed changes in detail, click here.

When will the vote take place?

An electronic member vote will be open on the ABoR Member Portal from Monday, April 16, 2018, through Friday, April 20, 2018.

Eligible ABoR members will receive an email from ABoR on Friday, April 13 with step-by-step instructions on how to cast their vote. Members will also receive a follow-up email on Monday, April 16 to let them know that the vote is now open.

In the meantime, we encourage members to take a moment and closely review the proposed bylaws changes here.

Who is eligible to vote?

Any dues-paying Primary and Secondary REALTOR® member is eligible to vote.

When will the results of the vote be announced?

ABoR members will be notified of the results of the membership vote the week of April 23-27, 2018. If approved, the updated bylaws will take effect immediately.

Additional resources
  • To see a visual guide of the proposed Board nominating process and timeline, click here.
  • To review the current version of the ABoR bylaws, click here.
  • To review the current Board of Directors Nominating Process, click here.

Have questions? Email  bylaws@abor.com.

Motion details

(Excerpted from ABoR April 2018 Board Meeting Minutes)

A MOTION PASSED to approve the bylaws changes as amended.

Rationale: The Board of Directors initiated Bylaws revisions utilizing the expertise of legal counsel specializing in association policies and bylaws.  Besides housekeeping changes, the Board focused on revisions which would allow a membership vote to elect Directors annually. The Board also refined the make-up and scope of the Nominating Committee. Part of this refinement is removing nomination of the Secretary/Treasurer and President-elect from the Nominating Committee and placing it in the authority of the Board of Directors.  Revisions also occurred in the petition process lessening the number of signatures required to file a petition to be added to the ballot.

The post ABoR Bylaws Vote: April 2018 appeared first on The Austin Board of REALTORS®.

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