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Expert Tips for Navigating the Real Estate Market

My mission at Watters International Realty is to be your best resource for real estate advice. Whether you are a buyer, seller, or investor, I can answer any questions you might have about
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The $26,000 Mistake I Made

Today, Dan from S&D Plumbing joins me to discuss how his company got started, what they do, and why static pressure tests are so important to home buyers.

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Today I’m here with Dan from S&D Plumbing. S&D Plumbing is a family-owned business that Dan’s parents started in 1980.
One thing that separates S&D Plumbing from all of the other plumbing companies out there is their outstanding customer service. If you need plumbing help, a live person will answer your call 24/7. Dan’s company also provides same day service and leak protection. They also have special equipment that allows for minimal access, whether it’s trenchless repairs or locating water leaks in the slabs.
I made a big mistake when I bought a home not too long ago. As a Realtor, I should’ve known better, but I did not call Dan at S&D Plumbing to do a static pressure test on the property. That mistake wound up costing me $26,000.
A static pressure test simulates what a sewer stoppage would look like in your home. They put a test ball outside of the sewer exits, fill all the drain lines with water, and let that sit for 30 minutes to make sure that there are no leaks in the drain system.
Static pressure tests are especially important in the Austin area because of the clay soil. If there are unforeseen leaks in the drain system, then moisture will get into the clay soil, which will expand, contract, and cause foundation issues.

You need to get a static pressure test in Austin, no matter how old the home is.

Even if you are buying a home that isn’t brand new and the previous owners didn’t have any issues, you should still get a static pressure test. Just because the plumbing system isn’t backed up doesn’t mean it’s not leaking. Whether you are buying a one-year-old house or a 100-year-old house, you need to order a static pressure test.
Like I said, as a real estate agent, I should have known better. My house was built using cast iron plumbing, which got corroded. We had to trench underneath the house and $26,000 later I got a new plumbing system. Still, if I had called Dan and run a static pressure test, I could have avoided this problem.
Another benefit of working with S&D Plumbing is that once they locate a leak, they can pinpoint the location of the leak and go through the repair process. That way, you only have to work with one company from start to finish. They can even repair any cosmetic issues for you as well.
S&D Plumbing also offers hydro-jetting, which is basically like power washing the inside of your pipes. If you have issues with grease from your kitchen sink, Dan and his team can go in there and clean everything out.
S&D’s Plumbing covers all aspects of residential and commercial repairs. They have a great customer loyalty agreement for residential customers that allows for priority scheduling, discounted pricing, and other great perks. They also offer a similar program for commercial clients.
Back in 1980, S&D Plumbing was one of the only companies that handled static pressure tests, leak detections, and repairs all in the same place. Whenever you have an issue or order a static pressure test, you can work with one plumber throughout the whole process.
If you have any questions for Dan, you can contact him at (512) 746-1510 or check out the website for S&D Plumbing. As always, if you have any real estate questions for me, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. We would be happy to help you!

Start Planning Your Spring Sale This Winter

Selling a home in the winter comes with many advantages. If you want to sell in the spring, though, you need to at least start planning with your Realtor this winter.

Looking to buy in the Austin area? Get a full home search. 
Selling your Austin area home? Get a free market analysis report.

If you're thinking about selling your home in the spring, there are some distinct advantages to meeting with a Realtor in the winter.

First, though, let's talk about the advantages of actually listing in the winter.

There's a lot less inventory on the market in the winter and fewer new construction homes. This is a good thing for resale homeowners looking to sell; you won't have to compete against as much new construction. Winter buyers are typically in must-buy situations, too, so they are more motivated to get a deal done.

Additionally, the other people in your neighborhood thinking about selling will also want to wait for spring, opening up the market for you. We also see that many employers make a lot of relocation hires in the first quarter of each year.
If you plan on selling this spring, start by meeting with an agent this winter.
So, if you plan on selling in the spring, you should start by meeting with an agent this winter. You can start by talking about how to position the home for the market. We can also put your home in our 'Coming Soon' program. We'll put a 'Coming Soon' sign in your yard and put your house on a special section on our website. Since the market is so hot, we have tons of buyers asking us about properties that are coming soon.

Any buyer will be seven times more motivated to buy by the fear of loss, according to human psychology. When buyers drive through the neighborhood, they see these 'Coming Soon' signs and get worried that another buyer will jump in and submit an offer before they get the chance. By leveraging our 'Coming Soon' program, sometimes we can market your home even above market value during the process.

If you're thinking about selling this winter or this upcoming spring, give us a call or send us an email. We'd love to help you out!

How Can You Prevent Frozen Pipes This Winter?

We'll see some temperatures cold enough for a freeze here in Central Texas soon. I've brought in my trusted home inspector for some advice on how to prevent freezing and burst pipes.

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Today I'm joined by Jeff Thorp, a licensed inspector here in Austin that we use a lot. Today, we're discussing what to do if your pipes burst due to the coming freeze here in Central Texas and how to prevent pipes from freezing in the first place. As Jeff says, your first step is to turn off the water. In most Austin homes, you'll find the water shutoff valve adjacent to the water meter, which should be located near the street or near the sidewalk. There, you'll find a small hand valve that either looks like a circular dial handle or a flat blade lever valve handle. Don't forget—righty tighty, lefty loosey.
So how can you prevent this from happening in the first place? Freeze protection is a must, Jeff says. We don't get cold temperatures often, but with those cold winds, hose bibs can freeze over, Jeff says. Once the water in there freezes, the expansion of the ice causes the leakage. To combat this, you can insulate hose bibs.

If you go out of town, you may be tempted to turn your heat off, but you should leave it on. The house doesn't need to be toasty, but you do need to keep some heat inside. Jeff says 55 degrees is enough heat.
In many modern homes, water lines run through the attic. Sometimes they are even insulated by the ceiling insulation. That insulation could change, though, if a security system is installed or cable wiring is run through the attic. If the insulation has been disturbed enough to where you can see blue, red, or clear piping, it needs to be insulated.

Finally, letting a faucet drip is Jeff's last tip. This will keep a small amount of water moving and prevent freezing. Jess says it's best to have a kitchen or bathroom sink that's near an exterior wall dripping; you don't need all your faucets to drip.

A big thanks to Jeff for joining us today. If you're interested in any kind of home inspection or you just have questions for Jeff, you can contact him at 512-585-8726 or email him at

If you're thinking of buying or selling a home, give us a call or send us an email soon. We'd love to help!