Why Buyers Should Consider Davis Spring in North Austin

Davis Spring, located in far North Austin, offers its residents all the perks of a traditional suburban neighborhood such as a park, pool, tennis and basketball courts, and nearby public and private schools. Yet at the same time, it is closely accessible to the urban center of Austin.

Davis Spring Schools

The Davis Spring neighborhood, which was developed between 1995 and 2000, offers brick and native stone homes that range from approximately 2,000 to 3800 square feet in size. It feeds into the Round Rock Independent School District campuses of Patsy Sommer Elementary School, Cedar Valley Middle School and McNeil High School, all of which are within a few miles. Additionally, there are two private schools in the neighborhood as well, Holy Family Catholic School, and St. Dominic Savio Catholic High School.

Easy Commuting From Davis Spring in North Austin

One of the main arterial roads leading into Davis Spring, Neenah Avenue, has recently been extended west beyond Parmer Lane and eventually feeds into and becomes Lakeline Blvd. Traveling west on Neenah about a mile past Parmer Lane is the new Lakeline MetroRail Station. The MetroRail offers commuters five morning southbound trips into downtown Austin and five afternoon return trips each lasting about 50 minutes. Check the train schedule here.

In addition to light rail access, Davis Springs is within a few minutes access of the 183A Toll Road, the TX-45 Toll Road, and MoPac Expressway. With a location just east of Parmer Lane, South of Avery Ranch Blvd., and north of FM620, it truly does offer the benefits of a suburban neighborhood and the convenience of accessibility in virtually any direction.

Davis Spring Photos

Road to Austin MetroRail
Davis Spring Tennis Court
Great Way To Downtown Austin!
Swimming Pool in Davis Spring

Anyone with a weekday commute who is considering a move to north Austin will want to put Davis Spring on their shortlist of contenders for their next home address!

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Why Home Inspections Are Important On New Homes From Builders

One of our clients is building a brand new home from a national builder in Lakeway, TX, and we couldn’t be happier for her!  The builder she chose is one that is well-known for building well-appointed custom homes and they have a great reputation among their peers. They also offer a builder walkthrough at the framing stage to ensure that everything is satisfactory to the buyer before the drywall is installed.  Nonetheless, we still advise all of our clients to have home inspections, even on new homes, because there may be things that come up that are missed or overlooked by city code enforcement or the builder’s internal inspectors.

Three Reasons For Inspections of New Homes

In fact, we recommend our clients who are building new homes to have their third-party home inspector perform their initial inspection at the framing stage.  This is for several reasons:  most importantly being the peace of mind for the buyer.  Once the drywall is complete, it is impossible to know whether or not the framing of your home was built correctly…until things start going wrong.  Other great reasons to have a framing inspection is getting to know your home.  Take this opportunity to take tons of photos of the wiring and piping inside the walls — it will be very helpful to have this information, should you decide to add additional shelving in closets or any other improvements that require nailing into the drywall.  Furthermore, it’s fun to see and learn about the inner workings of your home, such as why the HVAC duct works are installed in certain places and how they balance the air.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Fortunately for this homebuyer, there weren’t any significant issues that were detected at the home inspection.  But there were a few issues.  A few examples that come to mind that her home inspector found:  several missing foundation bolts at the framing in certain areas and some questions regarding insulation issues around the windows and other piping (in the builder’s defense, both of these issues were addressed by the builder’s inspector in between the time of the third party inspection and our framing-stage walkthrough with the builder.)  It’s better to be safe than sorry, and for the cost of a home inspection (around $325), it is more than worth it in our opinion.

Have you had any experiences with new home builders that you would like to discuss?  Feel free to post a comment and share your story with us.

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How Texas Veterans Buy Houses

The following blog was written by Chad Bowman, an Austin mortgage banker and Austin VA loan specialist:

The Texas Veterans Land Board (TVLB) offers many benefits to our proud Texas Veterans including a home purchase program known as the Veterans Housing Assistance Program or “VHAP”.  The VHAP provides financing up to $325,000 toward the purchase of a home to eligible and qualified Texas veterans.  The VHAP cannot be used for refinancing.  It can only be used to obtain a purchase money loan on a property you intend to owner-occupy as your primary residence

There are two big pieces to the puzzle:  eligibility and qualification.  Eligibility refers to you meeting the requirements of the program based on your residency status, military service, and previous TLVB payment history.  Qualification refers to you being able to afford your new mortgage payment and therefore qualify for the loan with a lender who participates in this program.

Are You Eligibile For a TVLB Loan?

Let’s start with eligibility.  Are you a Texas Veteran?  The answer is YES if your “Home of Record” on your DD-214 is Texas and you currently reside in Texas OR you have lived in Texas for the last 12 months OR you are currently on active duty in Texas and changed your residency to Texas.  The military service requirement is at least 90 days of active duty and anything but a dishonorable discharge.  It is also required that you have successfully repaid any previous TVLB loans and are current on any open TVLB loans.  Provide a copy of your DD-214 or other discharge papers to your lender to confirm you are eligible.   

How To Qualify For a VHAP Loan

Qualification is the other important piece and is best answered by your lender.  The VHAP loan must be originated in conjunction with VA, FHA, or conventional financing and with a TVLB-Participating Lender.   It is a matter of analyzing your credit, income, debts, assets, etc. based on the standard requirements for the underlying mortgage program.  The vast majority of the time, the VHAP is used with VA financing since you typically get VA financing for 100% of the sales price (no down payment) and have no mortgage insurance.  The best way to confirm you qualify for a VHAP loan is to get pre-approved with a TVLB-Participating Lender. 

So, you’re eligible and qualified: now what?  The whole reason behind using the VHAP program is for potentially below-market interest rates.  It is a matter of comparing to other programs at the time you are locking your interest rate.  There are, however, two times in particular that this program is especially beneficial.  The first is if you have a 30% or greater VA disability rating.  If so, you are likely eligible for a full ½ percent discount off of the base rate.  The other special situation is for someone currently serving in the National Guard or Reserves.  If, after funding your VHAP loan, you receive activation orders for the War on Terror, you MAY BE eligible to have your interest rate reduced to zero during your time of activation, plus one year after you return. 

Rates are updated after business hours every Friday and posted at www.texasveterans.com.  You can also follow @TexasVATeam on Twitter and get the rates sent to you each week.  Now you know how Texas Veterans buy their homesteads at potentially below-market interest rates!

Chad Bowman is a proud Marine Corps Veteran, VA Home Loan Specialist, and licensed Texas Mortgage Banker in Austin, Texas.  He is a TVLB-Participating Lender who can originate VHAP loans anywhere in the State of Texas.  Find more information on his website at www.theVAteam.com.

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Energy Star Ratings and Green Building Popular With Austin Home Buyers

Local and national builders of Austin homes like KB Homes, Lennar Homes, Wilshire Homes and many others are adapting to the latest demand from home buyers: energy efficiency and Green building.

Energy Star Ratings on New Homes

Since 2007, Energy Star Ratings on new homes have become increasingly important to prospective buyers when shopping for a home. The savings for homeowners who purchase energy efficient homes is significant, especially during the summers in warm climates like Austin. Home builders are realizing that the investment of using green materials and building well-insulated homes has become a very good selling point and just makes good sense.

How Austin Home Builders Achieve a High Energy Rating

To acheive a high rating, a home must be built to stringent insulation guidelines with regard to materials and workmanship. Below are a few examples of ways builders can meet the criteria:

Energy Efficient Windows

Windows with double panes should be used instead of single pane to keep cool air in during the summer months, and keep your home nice and toasty in the winter time.

Lighter Color Roofing Materials

When it comes to roofing, simply using light color roofing materials to reflect light instead of dark materials that absorb light can go a long way toward energy efficiency. Reflective roofing and a radiant barrier can lower heat in the attic that slows down heat transfer.

Well Sealed HVAC Ducts

HVAC ducts have to be properly sealed and testing must be done to ensure proper flow of air to each room. Air ducts are checked for leakage by an inspector before closing to make sure the home is energy efficient.

Stone Exterior Walls Are a Big Plus

A big bonus toward a high energy rating comes from homes that are built of stone or cement walls.  Homes like this are great for energy efficiency in that it takes heat or cold longer to penetrate the material to enter the home, and maintains internal home temperatures.

Austin Builders Go Green

Generally speaking, if your home was built to Green building standards, there’s a great chance it was also built to Energy Efficiency standards. By definition, a GREEN home is one that is built with eco–friendly materials and products.

Consumers in purchasing a home look for the Energy Star Rating to help you make your decision to purchase a new home. It could save you a lot of money over time in reduced energy bills. Get your Energy Savings Audit done by a reputable auditor. If you are looking for any home that has been audited look for the energy star sign.which participating builders proudly display.

Okay, so you’ve got an energy efficient home.  Great, but don’t stop there! Don’t forget about the impact of energy-efficient appliances. Washer and dryer, refrigerator,microwave, and hot water heaters can be bought with Energy Star ratings. If you have natural gas in the home, it is recommended that you use a tank-less water heater. It is more expensive but it usually pays for itself after a few years.

There are so many other things you can do. Check with Energy Star for additional details.  If you have any questions about what it takes for a builder to become certified as a Green builder, or for more on the details that encompass an energy-efficient home, please do not hesitate to contact me for your Austin real estate needs.

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Cave Day In Cedar Park

This Saturday, April 17, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. is Cave Day in Cedar Park. The City of Cedar Park – Parks and Recreation Department will be sponsoring this event and The Texas Cave Conservancy will be offering cave related activities at various sites.

Cedar Park Facts

There are over one thousand caves in urban areas across Texas and over 759 of these are in Williamson County. The caves in Cedar Park and Williamson County are home to several unusual species of insects and mammals including the cave cricket, the cave beetle, certain types of bats and raccoons. Some of these are on the endangered species list.

The Texas Cave Conservancy, a non-profit organization formed in 1984 in New Braunfels, Texas, by a group of concerned cavers, works to protect and preserve many of these caves through cave management and the formation of cave preserves.

Great Family Event for Cedar Park Residents and Visitors

If you are like many of the local residents or newcomers to our area who are literally ‘in the dark’ about caves in Texas, this event will be a fantastic opportunity to not only learn more about the caves in our area, but also to visit some of them. There will be five separate sites available to visit, including Discovery Well Cave Preserve, Buttercup Cave Preserve, Twin Creeks Historical Area, Avery Ranch Cave, and the Dies Ranch Treasure Cave. Each location will offer tours, information, and either hiking trails, cave access, or both.

For directions and more information on Cave Day, visit the Texas Cave Conservancy website at http://texascaves.org/cave_day.html or contact the City of Cedar Park-Parks & Recreation Department at 512-401-5500. See you on Saturday!

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Cedar Park Broker Property Tour Features 10 Great Homes For Sale

Today we participated in the Cedar Park Real Estate / Broker Property Tour, and got a chance to see first-hand a sampling of the various homes for sale in Avery Ranch, Vista Oaks, The Ranch at Brushy Creek and Davis Springs.

Why Are Broker Property Tours Important?

Broker Property Tours are great for both listing agents and their selling clients. For listing agents, it offers a great opportunity to network with your peers and showcase your property to other agents who may have a client. For sellers, having your home on the Property Tour is invaluable. The listing broker receives feedback on your home from all of the other listing brokers in the area, and that feedback is key to getting your home sold.

What is Hot, What is Not

Having a group of Austin Realtors together is always an interesting experience. Today, we spoke to our peers about their experiences with buyers on what is selling today, and what is not.

So what are buyers looking for and making offers on in the Cedar Park area right now?

Based on today’s tour, buyers are more demanding than ever. They want hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, large yards, and everything in tip-top condition. They want a turn-key house that requires little work. Home improvement television shows are more popular than ever, and unfortunately, they have given buyers the perception that home improvements cost 200%-500% more than they actually do.

What are buyers specifically avoiding?

Buyers are not interested in homes that aren’t priced appropriately. When it’s a buyer’s market, homes have to be priced correctly or they will not generate offers. You cannot start high and slowly grind lower expecting to generate offers. You have to make your home sale-ready, and price it aggressively.

How To Get Your Home on a Cedar Park Broker Tour?

To get your home on the next broker tour in your Austin area, you’ll need to list your property with a Realtor who is willing to participate. In order for a listing to be on the tour, the listing has to be accepted by the tour sponsor AND the broker must be present for the tour to showcase the home and answer questions.

We at Team Ensor + Austin Real Estate feel that broker tours are ESSENTIAL to selling homes, and we always add our listings to as many tours as we can get them on. It’s part of our marketing campaign, and the feedback is much appreciated by our sellers.

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2010 Yesterfest in Downtown Bastrop

It’s time for Yesterfest again!  What is Yesterfest?  It is The Bastrop Opera House and the Bastrop Business Alliance’s annual historic recreations of three eras in Bastrop history.  Yesterfest is a step back in time to celebrate its past.  It defines the pioneer days, the jazz era, and the rockabilly time of post-war innocence through music, costume, reenactments and just good entertainment

Things To Do at Yesterfest

There will be a Children’s Area which is sponsored by many local businesses.   Some of these are the animal displays from McKinney Roughs, the Fry’s Fun Farm petting zoo and pony rides, MJ’s Traveling Train rides, Boy Scout Troop 181 pine car derby races and beadwork and halos made by the representatives of Children’s Advocacy Center.  This is to just name a few exciting things from live music, vendors, entertainment and something for the whole family.

When and Where is Yesterfest?

Yesterfest is located in downtown, historic Bastrop on Saturday April 24 for 9a-5p.  But don’t think that the fun stops then! Finish your music filled day by attending the Bastrop Opera House performance of “Forever…Patsy”, a play starring Terry Moore as Patsy Cline at 7:30 pm.  What a great ending to a terrific day!

If you would like to be a part of this event-filled community and are considering a move to Bastrop, please contact me.  Whether you are interested in historic downtown Bastrop homes or a new “rockin” home, I can help you find your dream home! 

Enjoy Yesterfest!

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Photos of Buttercup Creek in Cedar Park

It’s spring-time in Buttercup Creek!  The flowers are blossoming, trees are blooming, and construction of new homes are in full-gear! As a resident of Buttercup Creek, I am always on the lookout for changes in my neighborhood, and I was able to recently snap a few photos for your enjoyment:  

Buttercup Creek Photos

Bluebonnets in Buttercup Creek in Cedar Park, Texas
Flowering Trees in Buttercup Creek in Cedar Park, Texas
New Home Construction by Meritage Homes in Buttercup Creek in Cedar Park, Texas

Homes in Buttercup Creek

Most notable was the rapid construction of new homes in Buttercup Creek.  Meritage Homes is putting up this 2,570 square foot one-story home on the corner of Nelson Ranch and David Cove in Buttercup Creek. The picture above is one of the final-four-closeout homes that Meritage will build in Westside Preserve at Buttercup Creek. The last three homes will be built on Nancy Jean Cove and construction on those will begin soon! 

Take the opportunity while the weather is still pleasant to get out and see what’s blooming in the neighborhood!  Please contact me for additional information on the new Meritage Homes that are being built in Buttercup Creek, or for details about any homes for sale in Cedar Park.

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Austin Home Inspector Discusses Recent TREC Changes

The following article was written by Chris Linden, owner of CHECKTECH Inspections in Austin, Texas. Chris is an Austin home inspector who stays current on recent changes to TREC policies that affect his clients and his practice.  Below, Chris discusses one of these new TREC changes in particular and how it affects Austin homeowners:

Lack of AFCI is Now Considered a Deficiency on All Homes

The Texas Real Estate Commission’s new Standards of Practice for Inspectors require us to report the lack of Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) protection as a deficiency, regardless of the age of a home. AFCI protection is required in all family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreations rooms, closets, hallways, and similar rooms or areas.

AFCI vs GFCI

AFCIs differ from ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which are installed in most electrical items. While a GFCI protects people from shock if parts of an electric appliance or tool become energized due to a ground fault, AFCIs are newly-developed electrical devices designed to protect against fires caused by arcing faults in the home’s electrical wiring. Arcing faults can be created by damaged, deteriorated, or worn electrical plugs, cords, and/or branch circuit conductors.

Where Are AFCI Breakers Located?

AFCI protection devices are not found in wall receptacles, but are integrated into your house’s electrical service panel in the form of special circuit breakers. Conventional circuit breakers respond to overloads and short circuits, but they do not protect against arcing conditions that produce erratic current. Like circuit breakers, AFCIs protect against short circuits and overloads, but additionally protect against arcs by electronically identifying the unique current and voltage characteristics of an arc fault and de-energize the circuit when arc faults occur. As with the GFCI outlets, the AFCI breakers in the electric panel also should be tested monthly to ensure that they are working properly.

How Do I Add AFCI Protection?

A house can easily be upgraded to have AFCI protection. A qualified, licensed electrician can replace conventional circuit breakers with AFCI circuit breakers. Older homes with aging and deteriorating wiring systems can especially benefit from the added protection of AFCIs.

For additional information on AFCI protection, or if you are in need of an Austin home inspection, please consider Chris Linden at CHECKTECH Inspections.

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