The Austin Board of Realtors search engine covers many of the Texas Hill Country towns and counties. I recommend it over realtor.com. There are usually more photos and better information about the property on this local site.
Austinhomesearch.com >> Click on "Home Search" in the left navigation pane and setup your real estate search criteria. You can create a portfolio and saved searches on this site.
But, if you can't find the town you're interested in using the Austin Search Engine, you can find it in the national multiple listing service at Realtor.com
Finally, check out maps.google.com for an aerial view of real estate surrounding the spot you're eyeballing. Put in the address and zoom in. In the right-hand corner of the map, click on Hybrid. I can get a satellite picture close enough to see the roof of my house. It's a little scary...
Finally, I have to put in a plug for my husband. He's a full-time Texas Hill Country Real Estate Agent. Please consider him for your real estate needs - he was an appraiser for 6 years so knows how to value homes. Bruce Lewis, Realtor®. He can save you thousands of dollars off real estate commissions (he doesn't charge the normal 3% listing fee) and he provides a buyer's rebate at closing (up to 30% of his commission) if you work with him as your buyer's agent.
Tips for buying real estate in the Hill Country
- Homes in the Hill Country often rely on wells for their water. Make sure you have a well inspection. When the water levels run low, you'll want to have a deep well. Some people install rain water storage tanks on their properties.
- If you've never had a septic system, you'll likely have one in the hill country. They require more maintenance and monitoring than being on sewer.
- Can you say, "John Deere"? I tried using a self-propelled push mower for our front yard and immediately headed off to the John Deere store for a riding mower. It takes my son more than 3 hours to mow our front yard (about 1 acre) on the riding mower.
- Ever heard that saying, "Fences make good neighbors"? Same goes for fences and deer. Build 'em high if you want a garden.
- Armadillos like to dig.
- Consider site location in terms of winds and sun.
- Make sure there are large trees to shelter your home from the sun. This will cut cooling expenses.
- MAKE SURE you have adequate ventilation in the attic. Attics can reach and exceed 150 degrees in the summer which will increase your cooling bill.
- Well water is particularly caustic in the hill country. You'll likely need a reverse osmosis system for drinking water and your plumbing fixtures will need attention to keep lime and other minerals from building up and destroying them.
- Highway noise carries. Stand quietly and listen before you put in an offer.
- Is there a level spot for the pool? You may not think that you'll need one, but keep it an option.