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.
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.
Affiliate Club Member
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
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!