Advice for Consumers

Welcome to the Advice for Consumers blog, where you'll find tips about buying, selling, and leasing property, and so much more.
  • Buying your first home is an exciting time, but there’s a lot to learn about your new investment. If you’ve never owned a home before, you may not be familiar with some of their most common exterior features. Learning about these features now can help you maintain your home in the future. Your Texas REALTOR® is an excellent resource for the basics of homeownership. In the meantime, take this quick quiz to see how well you know houses. <a data-cke-saved-href="//" href="//">View Survey</a>

  • I've never heard a homeowner say he wants to sell his home as slowly as possible. Yet some people make poor decisions that lead to their homes staying on the market much longer than average. In fact, there are a few homes in my neighborhood that have been for sale way longer than others nearby. With each of those homes, my reaction was the same when I first saw the asking prices. Wow, can they really get that much?  So far, the answer has been no. In the meantime, those sellers have been paying carrying costs for their homes ... month after month after month. How do you determine an asking price that's high enough to maximize your profit but not so unrealistically high that it will make your home harder to sell? A Texas REALTOR® can go over the numbers with you and explain how your home's value fits in to the current sales market.  

  • In Lehman’s Terms Sometimes I receive calls from people asking why we support certain candidates. Maybe the caller doesn’t agree with the candidate’s stance on an issue, or maybe it’s just because he's from a different political party. Would you believe that I actually enjoy taking these calls? They provide an ideal opportunity for me to explain how Texas REALTORS® select who will receive our support … and the answer is simple: We support those who support the Texas real estate industry. There’s a process in place Before a candidate receives our support, we want to know where he or she stands on private-property rights. Candidates at every level (locally and statewide) are thoroughly vetted by Texas REALTORS® through a questionnaire and interview process. Incumbents who are running are also vetted based on their voting record. Because pro-real estate candidates span the political spectrum, it should be no surprise to learn that Texas REALTORS® are known for supporting people from both sides of the aisle. We like to say we belong to the REALTOR® Party. We are always willing to have respectful discussion with people across party lines. In fact, a great example of this bipartisanship happened just a few days ago.  What we did last week During the 2016 Texas REALTORS® Conference in Galveston, we invited the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, Tom Mechler, and the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, Gilberto Hinojosa, to share their insights on a moderated panel. They discussed their parties’ presidential candidates, voter turnout expectations, and down-ballot races, among other topics related to the November 8 election. The panel was followed by our keynote speaker for the event: political consultant, media columnist, and TV producer Mark McKinnon. McKinnon has bipartisan experience advising both Democratic and Republican campaigns and is co-founder of No Labels, an organization dedicated to bipartisanship, political problem solving, and civil dialogue. McKinnon offered a lesson in media literacy, helping Texas REALTORS® identify what makes political messages successful. How does this benefit you? Events like these are just one of the ways we help Texas REALTORS® enhance the services they provide to real estate consumers. I believe that part of our role as an association is to ensure Texas REALTORS® are plugged into the latest issues affecting real estate consumers. In Lehman’s terms, I believe that more involved REALTORS® make for a better real estate industry. Give me a call if you ever have questions. I’ll be glad to talk about the great work Texas REALTORS® are doing for you. Mark Lehman is vice president of Governmental Affairs for the Texas Association of REALTORS®. 

  • Maybe you want to upgrade the windows in your house or the property you’re buying needs new ones. Where do you start? It’s easy to get overwhelmed with what’s available, but here are some tips to help you choose windows that will work best for your property. New window options If the frame around the window is in good shape, you can replace just the window itself. This is commonly called a replacement window. Have the window installer take the measurements for you to get a good fit. But if the frame is badly damaged, both the window and the frame will need to be replaced. This is sometimes called a construction window and is usually a more expensive option. Energy-saving options The energy characteristics of a window depend on the type of frame, the type of glazing, and the overall construction of the window. A good place to begin your search is with windows that meet Energy Star requirements. Energy Star is an Environmental Protection Agency program that promotes energy-efficient household products, including windows. The Energy Star program considers three measurements: U-Factor. This measures the rate at which the window, which includes the frame and the glass, conducts heat. The lower the number, the less heat it conducts. The U-Factor for windows in northern climates is lower than those required in the South, where air-conditioning costs are the largest energy drains. Solar heat gain coefficient. This measures a window's ability to block unwanted heat from outside, both from direct sunlight and reflected sunlight. It’s a number between 0 and 1. The lower the number, the better the window is at blocking heat. Air leakage. This measures the tightness of window construction and is signified by a number between 0.1 and 0.3. Energy Star windows must have a measurement equal to or less than 0.3. The country is divided into four climate zones—see the image below—each with different requirements. Find the requirements for your county here. If the windows in your home or a home you’re going to buy need to be replaced, consider energy-efficient models. You’ll save money in the long run with a lower energy bill. Fran J. Donegan writes on home improvement for Home Depot. He's a longtime DIY author and has written several books, including Paint Your Home. To review a number of window installation options, you can visit

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