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Chairmanís Corner

Dear Member,

It’s already fall, and it’s starting to feel like change is in the air. Finally, we can look forward to relief from the extraordinary Texas heat. Change, as you know, is also in the air at the Austin Board of REALTORS® (ABoR).

The theme for this year has been Members First, Member Driven. With this in mind, changes have been made at the Board ranging from how committees operate to initiating new programs. For example, ABoR recently launched the Ambassador Program, a program established to improve communication and receive feedback about issues that matter the most to our members. Other new programs include the Broker/Manager Forum, which was designed to arm brokers with timely information and solutions they need to better serve their company and agents. Hopefully, you are taking advantage of all the benefits ABoR offers you.

One event we are looking forward to is welcoming Matt Maire as our new CEO. You may have seen the announcement on Abor.com stating that he will be joining us on November 1, 2011.

One of the questions I am receiving from the membership is, “What do you think about the new CEO, Matt Maire?” My answer to that question is I believe the search committee made an outstanding selection. I’ve had the opportunity to better acquaint myself with Matt in the last few weeks, as he has already hit the ground running with our Association. Even though he won’t start until November 1, and he is still working at the Collin County Association of REALTORS® to finish up some projects, he has already attended meetings at ABoR. He has met with ABoR staff, as well as the Board of Directors. He is also making valuable contributions and has insights that will positively affect the membership.

Matt has many strengths that will benefit our Association. He clearly understands how REALTOR® associations work. Matt will be instrumental in moving forward with the member-driven philosophy and is eager to work with our REALTOR® volunteers. He also has a great background in government affairs and recognizes the importance of TREPAC. Overall, he understands our priorities as a Board to educate our members, have a strong political voice and provide the best possible MLS service. 

One thing you’ll find out about Matt that has made a huge impression on me is that he knows and believes the REALTOR® members of the Austin Board of REALTORS® are first! We’re all looking forward to getting to know Matt better. Be sure to stop by at Realty Round Up so that you can get to know him, too.

Wishing you a strong finish to the selling season, and I hope to see you at an upcoming ABoR event.

Judith Bundschuh
Chairman of the Board


Don’t Miss the 30th Annual Realty Round Up

The Austin Board of REALTORS® is anxiously awaiting the 30th annual Realty Round Up: Flashback to the 80s. Join ABoR and an anticipated 1,500 real estate professionals on October 26, 2011 to boost your career and network with your fellow colleagues. Purchase your $15 ticket today to guarantee your spot at the largest real estate trade show in Central Texas.

Research Economist Dr. Jim Gaines from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University will deliver insights in his keynote presentation about current economic conditions, upcoming trends and expectations for the 2012 housing market. Attendees can also look forward to a variety of product demonstrations and educational opportunities. While MCE credits won't be offered during the Realty Round Up program, you can learn valuable information by attending a variety of educational sessions throughout the day. Lastly, your ticket will grant you access to the official Realty Round Up after party, hosted by the Austin Young Real Estate Professionals (AYREP) and the Austin Board of REALTORS®.

Realty Round Up: Flashback to the 80s will take place at the Austin Convention Center, located at 500 East Cesar Chavez St., Austin, Texas 78701. To review a full schedule of events, visit the Realty Round Up page. Your ticket will be available for pick-up at the ticket registration booth on the day of the event. For additional information, contact Gina Willemsen at 512-454-7636.


MLS Vendor Review Semifinalists Announced

In late September, the ACTRIS Advisory Committee announced three semifinalists to be considered in the MLS vendor review, including Fusion (CoreLogic MarketLinx), connectMLS (dynaConnections) and Paragon 5 (LPS). The semifinalists were selected based on system functionality, usability and capacity to meet the member priorities identified in the MLS satisfaction survey earlier this year.

Keeping members informed about the MLS vendor review process is a top priority for ACTRIS. All ACTRIS subscribers are invited to attend the “What is New with the MLS, and What Does it Mean to Me?” panel at Realty Round Up, where members of the ACTRIS Committee and the ABoR Board of Directors will brief the membership on the MLS vendor review process from 12:30 to 1:20 p.m. on the third floor in Room 6 A and B. 

Members can look forward to more updates later this month as the committee works to identify the best possible MLS solution for our Association. For more information, please visit the MLS Vendor Review page on Abor.com.


NAR’s Seize the Day Conference and Expo Next Month

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Conference and Expo: Seize the Day is right around the corner! Scheduled for November 11–14, this year’s conference will be hosted in Anaheim, California and is packed with educational sessions, inspirational speeches, special events and countless networking opportunities with an anticipated 18,000 REALTORS®. This is one career-advancing event you don’t want to miss, especially since members who attended in 2010 earned an average of $23,251 more a year than those who didn’t attend. Register soon, as the cut-off date to have your tickets and badges mailed to you is this Friday, October 14, 2011.


2012 Installation and Awards Gala: Tickets and Partnerships Now Available

ABoR is gearing up for the annual Installation and Awards Gala. Join us and your colleagues on December 2 from 6:00–11:30 p.m. as we honor incoming Chairman of the Board Leonard Guerrero, install the 2012 ABoR Officers and Directors and the ABoR Foundation Directors, as well as recognize the 2011 Industry Award winners.

This year’s premier event will be hosted at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa, located at 575 Hyatt Lost Pines Road, Lost Pines, Texas 78612. Attendees can look forward to a delectable meal, an award and installation ceremony, music from Brother Magnum and the Razor Bumps, dancing and prizes.

The 2012 Installation and Awards Gala is expected to draw many members of the Austin real estate community. Promote your company at this REALTOR®-packed event by signing up for a partnership opportunity. The deadline to sign-up for an Installation partnership ends on November 15, 2011, so be sure to send in your completed form soon.

Reserve your spot at this premier, end-of-the-year event by purchasing your ticket today. Discounted room packages are also available. Attendees are encouraged to dress in formal, black-tie attire. For more details regarding this event, contact Shirley Williams in ABoR's Education Department at 454-7636.


Calling All Leaders: Apply for the 2012 Leadership Academy

ABoR is seeking applicants for the 2012 Leadership Academy. Attendees can sharpen their leadership skills at this eight-week course, which features in-depth, specialized sessions, including spokesperson training, planning for success, creating balance and diversity among us. The Leadership Academy will kick off with a retreat to the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and Spa on January 19, 2012 and will run through May 10, 2012.

The cost per student is $375, which includes the cost of the retreat. Anticipated NAR scholarship opportunities will be made available to applicants from the following groups:

  • Austin Young Real Estate Professionals (AYREP);
  • Non-profit Association of Hispanic-American Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP);
  • Asian Real Estate Professionals;
  • Certified Residential Specialist;
  • Women’s Council of REALTORS® (WCR);
  • Central Texas Commercial Association of REALTORS®;
  • Certified Commercial Investment Member; and
  • National Association of Residential Property Managers.

Revitalize your career by applying for the 2012 Leadership Academy by November 30, 2011.


New Homestead Law Effective

On September 1, the proof of residency requirements for homeowners who apply for the property tax homestead exemption changed due to a new law passed by the Texas Legislature.

According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, a homestead is defined as “a separate structure, condominium or a manufactured home located on owned or leased land, as long as the individual in the home owns it.” Only a homeowner’s primary residence qualifies for this exemption, and the home must have been the owner’s principle residence as of January 1 of the tax year.

Following the new stipulations set in place by HB 252, new applicants for the homestead exemption are now required to provide a copy of their Texas driver’s license or state ID card and vehicle registration receipt. The address listed on these documents must match that of the property for which the exemption is being requested. Applicants who don’t own a vehicle must provide a copy of a utility bill with the correct address along with an affidavit stating he or she does not own a vehicle.

In addition to the general homestead exemption that is available to all homeowners, the new law also affects new applications for the over-65, disability, disabled veterans, homeowner’s surviving spouse and manufactured (mobile) home exemptions. The new law does not apply to homeowners who have existing homestead exemptions.

More details about the changes to the property tax exemptions are viewable online.


Austin-Area Home Sales Up by More Than 30 Percent for Second Consecutive Month

According to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) report released by the Austin Board of REALTORS®, 1,978 single-family homes were sold in the Austin area in August 2011, totaling a 33 percent increase from August 2010. During the same time period, the median price for Austin-area homes was $200,000, a figure that was unchanged compared to the same month of the prior year.

Judith Bundschuh, Chairman of the Austin Board of REALTORS® commented, “With the impact of the homebuyer tax credits fully behind us, it’s encouraging to see three consecutive months of year-over-year growth in sales volume for Austin-area homes, particularly the strong growth seen late this summer.”

View a complete Greater Austin Housing Market report.


The Texas Foreclosure Process

In this month’s Legal Topics column, John F. K. McGill, J.D., of Hancock and McGill, L.L.P., reviews the Texas foreclosure process with regard to residential and some non-residential properties.


Improved Body of Water Search Capability

New changes to the Waterfront Description and Body of Water fields now allow agents to search for properties that are on a specific body of water, such as Lake LBJ or Lake Austin. This improved search ability was accomplished by reducing the number of selections permitted in Waterfront Description to a maximum of one. With the new system modifications, if Lake or River is selected by a listing agent, the Body of Water field is required. This field contains a list of 20 major bodies of water to choose from, incorporating new selections suggested by members, such as the San Marcos River and Blanco River. Previously, users could select two Waterfront Descriptions, such as Lake or Creek, but Body of Water was not required.

This additional information about waterfront properties will provide better listing and search capabilities for MLS subscribers. ACTRIS hopes these modifications will bring added value to your business. If you would like to suggest a new selection to be added to the Body of Water field, please contact your MLS support team at 512-454-7636.


New Bonus Offer with Goomzee Premium Subscription

Today’s buyers want the ability to search listings on-the-go, in the palm of their hand. As an ACTRIS subscriber, you can meet the needs of your buyers with Goomzee’s Realty Connect basic service, which includes Mobile MLS and two text codes to promote your listings, at no additional cost. Goomzee users can now upgrade to premium service, at an already discounted rate of $19.95 for ACTRIS subscribers, to receive up to 10 free sign riders for all their current listings, while supplies last.

The Realty Connect basic service includes a text messaging tool, which uses property codes to post on sign riders or print ads, prompting potential buyers to send you a text message from their cell phone. The buyer automatically receives property information, including address, pricing, comments and your contact information. As the agent, you receive instant alerts, via email or text message, with the lead’s phone number and the property about which he or she inquired. Log-in using your Abor.com credentials (password is lowercase) to activate a Realty Connect “campaign” for your listing.

Mobile MLS provides members with MLS access through web-enabled mobile devices. When you’re showing properties and your clients point out a home they have to see, Goomzee’s GPS search can identify nearby listings so you can retrieve the showing instructions and owner’s phone number all from your mobile phone. To access Mobile MLS on your mobile device, use your Abor.com login (password is lowercase).

Sign up today to take advantage of this limited-time $100 value! For information about Goomzee basic or premium subscriptions, training webinars or how to get started, visit Goomzee’s website. Goomzee support is available at 406-542-9955. To learn more about your complete MLS toolbox, visit ABoR’s MLS Tools web page, or stop by the Goomzee booth at Realty Round Up on October 26, 2011 at the Austin Convention Center.


Vote in Favor of the Transportation Bond Proposition

The Austin Board of REALTORS® encourages members who reside in Travis County to vote in favor of Proposition 1 on the ballot for the upcoming 2011 Travis County Bond Election on November 8, 2011. Proposition 1 allows voters to approve $132,840,000 in funding for projects that will address Travis County’s transportation challenges, provide traffic congestion relief with road and street improvements and advance mobility. The deadline to register to vote in this election is today, October 11, 2011.

Research by the Transportation Subcommittee of the ABoR Government Affairs Committee found the bond projects to be well selected based on safety, partnership participation and connectivity through the SH-I30 Corridor. Efforts to improve Travis County’s transportation infrastructure will improve our quality of life, attract businesses and residents, stimulate the economy and allow for smart growth.

Get out the REALTOR® vote, and encourage your colleagues to vote, too. For more information about the 2011 Travis County Bond Election, visit the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee web page.


TREPAC: Itís Just that Easy

It’s just that easy to invest in the 2012 TREPAC fundraising year, which began October 1, 2011. We are looking forward to chilling with our 2011 and 2012 $110 Club+ TREPAC investors at the totally rad TREPAC VIP Lava Lounge on October 26 at Realty Round Up. Be sure to make your TREPAC investment before October 25 to gain access. Read below for more 2012 TREPAC investment opportunities.

Save the Date: TREPAC Tailgate Party

Join TREPAC as we cheer on the Longhorns at the UT vs Tech Tailgate Party on Saturday, November 5, 2011. The tailgate will be located at 17th Street and Congress Avenue. Look for the white party bus! Stay tuned to TREPAC’s webpage for more details and other upcoming events.

Advertise with TREPAC

Market your company’s products and services to an engaged REALTOR® audience. Email TREPAC Coordinator Anna Kong to find out more information about advertising opportunities.


Maximize the Value of Your MLS Subscription

In addition to MLS access, your ACTRIS subscription provides you with a variety of business tools, including mobile solutions and online marketing platforms. In this course, you’ll learn how to maximize the value of your subscription by taking advantage of these products and services available to ACTRIS members. Seize the Power of Your MLS Subscription is offered at no additional cost to MLS subscribers, and members will earn valuable MCE credit for participating.

For your convenience, this course will be held at ABoR’s south location, the Wyndham Garden Hotel, located at 3401 South IH 35, on October 20 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Are you taking full advantage of your MLS subscription? Register today to learn how!


Discover Ways to Avoid Risks in Real Estate

Learn how to reduce your risk in real estate transactions and boost your professionalism on October 14, 2011 from 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. at the informative course, Reduce Risk, Increase Performance. Led by Gordon Gorychka, this class offers a comprehensive overview of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, disclosure issues, real estate contracts, addendums and notices. Increasing your awareness and educating yourself about the appropriate real estate forms will lead to a smooth transaction. Register today to learn how to better protect yourself and your clients.