Smart-Home Technology For Your Home

In 1980, the National Association of Home Builders coined the term “smart house,” which refers to a home with integrated telephones, lighting, audio, and security. Recently, home owners who are thinking about listing their homes are proactively installing smart-home systems that you can control by your phone or even voice. Builders are also installing smart devices in new construction. Both believe they’ll be at a disadvantage without them. It’s only a matter of time before the trend reaches older homes and lower-priced listings. So what devices can you install to make your home a “smart-home?”

Here’s a list of devices you can invest in to make your home a little bit “smarter.”

  1. Best Smart Home Hub
smart-home

Samsung SmartThings $99

This central system integrates and controls a wide variety of smart home gadgets. Not only does it have a battery backup, but it integrates technology into its 2016 4K TVs, meaning you won’t have to plug yet another gadget into your router.

 

2. Best Smart Thermostat

smart-home

ECOBEE3 $249

With it’s slick touchscreen interface, the Ecobee makes sure that all of the rooms of your house are getting heated or cooled properly. Using a small wireless sensor in a room that stays chilly, the thermostat will keep the heat on until it senses the room has warmed up. Wow, how smart is that? Not only does it have a mobile app, but it is compatible with a few smart home systems.

 

3. Best Video Monitor

smart-home

NEST CAM $234.98

This $199 camera is a third generation of the Dropcam, which now shoots video in 1080 (up from 720p). With a magnetic swiveling base, you can set it up almost anywhere! Additionally, includes two-way audio, sharp night vision and a powerful digital zoom. This product also integrates with other smart home products.

 

4.  Best Smart Home Lock

smart-home

KWIKSET SMARTCODE 916 TOUCHSCREEN ELECTRONIC DEADBOLT $220

This compact deadbolt not only allows you to use your old keys if you want, but it has a SecureScreen feature that makes you punch in two random digits before entering your code. This unique feature ensures burglars can’t guess your password by only fingerprint smudges. This lock also includes an alarm if someone tries to break in. Although it lacks a standalone app, it can be connected to several smart home hubs via Z-wave or ZigBee.

 

5. Best Light Bulb

smart-home

STACK ALBA $149

These smart LED light bulbs are ready to react based on where you are. Using embedded motion sensors, the bulbs can detect when you’re in the room and turn the lights on and off. It includes an ambient light sensor, which allows the lights to automatically change from a hard white to a softer white, depending on the light in the rest of the room.

 

6. Best Smart Home Controlling System

smart-home

NUBRYTE $149

Thankfully, this console allows you to make your home smarter on your own terms. The touch-screen panel replaces your wall switch, and, using a small built-in camera, will automatically turn the lights on when you enter a room. Another plus is that it can be used as a security camera. If you are running late, you can send a message to your NuBryte, which tells your family you are running late.

 

7. Best Bed

smart home

SLEEP NUMBER C2 BED $1099.98

The Sleep Number c2 Bed with Sleep IQ monitors how you sleep all through the night by tracking breathing, heart rate and movement. Following this data, it will give you pointers on how to improve your sleep quality and get some more sleep! Surprisingly, you can adjust each side so that your partner can also track and get the most comfortable night of sleep.

 

8. Best Refrigerator

smart-home

SAMSUNG FAMILY HUB REFRIGERATOR $4,795

The large touchscreen lets you view family members’ schedules, leave notes for each other, order groceries, play music, and even watch TV. The fridge also has three cameras on the inside, which take a picture and email it to you overtime you close the door! No more forgetting what you need at the store! What an innovative fridge!

 

While all of these “smart-home features are great, if your opting for a listing equipped with smart-home features, it is important to be informed on which features will convey and how those features improve the owners’ lifestyle. Why did they install it? Why do they love it?

For more information/devices for smart homes, visit http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-smart-home-gadgets,review-2008.html

-Kaylee Monteleone

 

Staging Homes for a Better Showing

Help! You’ve just decided to list your home for sale and you aren’t sure how to give it that WOW appearance. A person’s decision to buy is almost always based on emotions rather than logic. So how do you get the “Yes, I want to buy this home” answer? Because first impression is so important, Staging homes before showing them can make or break a deal. Following these simple tips will ensure a successful home showing.

Staging Homes for a Successful Showing

  1. Remove clutter and clear off counter. Clear off counters and pack unnecessary decorative items. Put extra furniture in storage, and remove out-of-season items. Don’t forget to clean out the garage!
  2. Wash your windows and screens. This will help get more light into the interior of the home.
  3. Keep everything extra clean. First impressions are everything! make a strong one by assuring the buyer that the home has been well-cared for. Mopping, waxing floors, and cleaning the stove and refrigerator help! Polish doorknobs and address numbers. Hiring a cleaning service could make this easier.
  4. Get rid of smells. Perform a “sniff test.” Clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Potpourri, scent plugs, or scented candles will help.
  5. Brighten your rooms. Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten every room. Replace all burned-out bulbs and clean the walls. A fresh coat of neutral paint is a great idea.
  6. Don’t disregard minor repairs. Sticky doors, torn screens, cracked caulking, or dripping faucet may seem minute, but they’ll give buyers the impression that the house isn’t well maintained.
  7. Tidy your yard. Cut the grass, rake the leaves, add new mulch, trim the bushes, edge the walkways, and clean the gutters. For added curb appeal, a pot of bright flowers near the entryway helps.
  8. Patch holes. Repair any holes in your driveway and reapply sealant, if applicable.
  9. Add a touch of color in the living room. A colored afghan or throw on the couch will spice up a dull room. Also, add accent pillows for the sofa.
  10. Buy a flowering plant. Put it near a window you pass by frequently.
  11. Make centerpieces for your tables. Use brightly colored fruit or flowers.
  12. Set the scene. Set the table with fancy dishes and candles, and create other vignettes throughout the home to help buyers picture living there. For example, in a game room you might display a chess game in progress.
  13. Replace heavy curtains with sheer ones that let in more light. If you have a view, show it off!
  14. Accentuate the fireplace. Lay fresh logs in the fireplace or put a basket of flowers there if it’s not in use. 
  15. Make the bathrooms feel luxurious. Make sure your personal toiletry items are out of sight, along with old towels and toothbrushes. Add a new shower curtain and fancy guest soaps.
  16. Send your pets to a neighbor or take them outside. If that’s not possible, crate or confine them to one room, and let the real estate agent know where they’ll be to eliminate surprises.
  17. Lock up valuables, jewelry, and money. Agents can’t watch everyone all the time.
  18. Leave the home. It’s usually best if the sellers are not at home. It’s awkward for prospective buyers to look in your closets and express their opinions of your home with you there. 

Bellaire Kitchen staging homes

By staging homes, accentuating your home’s positive attributes and eliminating attention to negative aspects you will have a better home showing! Staging homes gives buyers a vision of what the home would feel like if they were in it. See http://homebuying.about.com/od/sellingahouse/qt/ShowingHome.htm for more tips and info on better home showings.

-Kaylee Monteleone

 

First-Time Homebuyers Tips

Are you dreaming of becoming a homeowner? Although there are a few challenges first-time buyers face, becoming a homeowner doesn’t have to be a miserable, complicated process. Listed below are some tips that first-time homebuyers should know before house hunting, as well as common mistakes first-time homebuyers should avoid.

First-Time Homebuyers

Tips for First-Time Homebuyers:

  1. Find out how much you can borrow
    • Several factors impact the amount of money that your bank is willing to lend you. Because of this, you should be aware of your income, down payment, credit score, outgoings and current debts are important factors in this crucial step. Avoid looking for a home first and a loan later. Know before you start shopping!
  2. Don’t use up your savings on the down payment
    • One of the biggest mistakes first-time buyers make is spending all or most of their savings on the down payment and closing cost. It’s risky to deplete your savings and live on the edge. Also, make sure you keep your wallet shut before closing. Lenders pull credit reports before the closing to make sure the borrower’s financial situation has not changed since the loan was approved.
  3. Do your research
    • You must get an idea of what’s on the market. Don’t just look at the price tag, but check out what is going on in the surrounding areas. Is there an airport being built near by? What are the schools like?
  4. Never underestimate the knowledge of mom and dad
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. They may have information and experience in handling issues you may not be aware of.
  5. Account for additional costs
    • Don’t overlook the ancillary cost that come with buying a house. Look over the cost of taxes, valuation fees, agent fees, closing cost, HOA fees, etc. Keep utilities and other monthly outings in mind as well. Remember, just because you can afford the mortgage payments doesn’t mean you can afford to own a home.
  6. Don’t settle for the first property you see
    • Before viewing houses, make a list of the most important features you are looking for. To avoid any costly surprises, learn the difference between cosmetic issues and real ones.

One of the largest financial decisions people make in their lives is buying a home. Educate yourself before you start viewing homes and find a reputable real estate agent, a good loan officer or broker, and possibly a lawyer. With a good agent, you will be protected from any of these pitfalls you might come across during the home buying process. The more you educate yourself, the less stressful the process will be!

For more tips for first-time home buyers, visit http://www.investopedia.com/articles/mortgages-real-estate/08/first-time-homebuyer-guide.asp

-Kaylee Monteleone