Smart home technology promises to make your home more comfortable, convenient and secure. It may not be the home from the Jetson’s but artificial intelligence is the hope to make it the home of the future which is available now and controlled from anywhere you have an Internet connection.
When Alexa appeared three years ago, most people thought it was a novelty to ask what the weather will be or to play a song. Few people understood the vision of Amazon would be verbally purchasing everything imaginable and that your calendar, contacts, lights, and appliances would all be connected.
There are plenty of players in the market including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung Smart Things, Apple and others. It starts with a hub that acts like a brain for your system to connect the different home automation devices. You’ll establish an online account with the hub manufacturer so that you can adjust settings and controls.
You could start simple with switch and plug receptacles that would allow you to control lights either vocally through your hub or from your Smartphone or tablet anywhere in the world where you have an Internet connection.
Programmable thermostats can lower your monthly utility costs while conveniently regulating your comfort by adjusting temperatures on your heating and cooling systems. These can be particularly effective in homes with zoned systems where you might live in one area during the day but sleep in a different zone.
Door bells might be one of the next additions to your automation. Not only can you communicate with the person at your door, you don’t have to go to the door to do it. The device cameras are motion activated so you’ll see who is there regardless of whether they rang the doorbell or not.
Door locks can be convenient because instead of giving someone a key, you can issue a temporary code to let them enter. You can give them permanent access and rescind it any time you want without having to change the locks. You’ll know when they enter and leave your home.
Other security options can include door and window sensors, motion detectors and cameras for outside or inside the home. The homeowner will be able to monitor from inside or anywhere else they have an Internet connection.
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as water sensors to determine leaking water around water heaters or in basements give homeowners peace of mind.
Most of these devices are available in wireless models so you won’t have to string wire throughout the home. The Wi-Fi can introduce a potential problem of hackers who could illegally access your system. This is true with any home that has a Wi-Fi router and precautions should be taken.
The big box stores like Lowes, Home Depot, and Amazon offer a wide variety of brands and modules. Many people prefer it as a do-it-yourself project and others would rather have a professional do it for them. YouTube has a lot of videos that can probably show you exactly how to install the ones you select.
- ATTOM Data Solutions conducted an analysis of more than 29 million single family home and condo sales over the past eight years to determine the top days to list your home for sale.
- The top five days to list your home brought in a 10% premium over market value and are all in either May or June!
- “Families start their home search when they know their kids will be out of school and when the weather is ideal for home viewing and moving, giving home sellers an upper hand in price negotiations.”
- There is still time to list your home before these dates pass you by!
REIN has received numerous calls recently asking for clear definition of what constitutes a bedroom. Here are the basics…The current Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code states that a bedroom must have the following:
- An area of at least 70 square feet. If more than
- one person occupies the room, there must be 50 square feet per occupant.
- Ceiling heights must be no less than 7 feet.
- Two egress points, one of which leads directly outside. The emergency exit (whether a window or door) must have a minimum area of 5.7 sq.ft., or be big enough for a firefighter or other rescue personnel in full gear to be able to carry you to safety. Only exception: if the room is at grade level, the minimum size may be 5 sq.ft.. Emergency exits may measure no more than 44 inches from the floor to the bottom sill.
- In order to be considered a legal bedroom, the room cannot be the only means of acc
ess or egress to other bedrooms or habitable spaces.
- Ventilation for cooling (i.e. a window or A/C), and a heat source. Portable heaters do not count as an adequate heat source.
- Contrary to popular belief, Virginia does not require a closet in a room to call it a bedroom.
The requirements listed above are mandated by the Commonwealth of Virginia. However, each City and County within the state may have their own requirements, on top of the state’s. So what is allowed as a bedroom in Virginia Beach may differ from what is allowed in Newport News. It is recommended that you check with the local zoning authority of the home in question for a complete definition.
Real estate is the overwhelming preferred choice by Americans as identified in a recent survey. With the Dow Jones industrial average reaching record highs, it might be expected that the stock market would be the favored choice but that wasn’t the outcome.
Analysis of the report suggests that the popularity for houses could be that they are tangible assets that you can see where your money is actually invested compared to stocks and bonds which tend to be unclear where the money is invested.
There are several distinct advantages of homes as investments over other popular alternatives.
- High loan-to-value mortgages available
- At fixed interest rates
- For long periods of time
- On appreciating assets
- With definite tax advantages
- And reasonable control.
Another advantage of rental homes is that most people are comfortable with them. It is the same type of property that they live in but used as a rental. They have a tendency to understand the key components such as value, appreciation, rent, maintenance and financing.
Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®. The term REALTOR® is a registered trademark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics. Here are nine reasons why it pays to work with a REALTOR®.
- You’ll have an expert to guide you through the process. Buying or selling a home usually requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multi-page settlement statements. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal, and avoid delays or costly mistakes.
- Get objective information and opinions. REALTORS® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning, schools, and more. They’ll also be able to provide objective information about each property. A professional will be able to help you answer these two important questions: Will the property provide the environment I want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when I am ready to sell?
- Find the best property out there. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your REALTOR® to find all available properties.
- Benefit from their negotiating experience. There are many negotiating factors, including but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and inclusion or exclusion of repairs, furnishings, or equipment. In addition, the purchase agreement should provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase. Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.
- Property marketing power. Real estate doesn’t sell due to advertising alone. In fact, a large share of real estate sales comes as the result of a practitioner’s contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, and family. When a property is marketed with the help of a REALTOR®, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Your REALTOR® will generally prescreen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.
- Real estate has its own language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with a professional who is immersed in the industry and knows the real estate language.
- REALTORS® have done it before. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. And even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. REALTORS®, on the other hand, handle hundreds of real estate transactions over the course of their career. Having an expert on your side is critical.
- Buying and selling is emotional. A home often symbolizes family, rest, and security — it’s not just four walls and a roof. Because of this, home buying and selling can be an emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you stay focused on both the emotional and financial issues most important to you.
- Ethical treatment. Every member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS® makes a commitment to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a customer of a REALTOR®, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. It is mandatory for REALTORS® to take the Code of Ethics orientation and they are also required to complete a refresher course every four years.
- Decide what you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.
- Develop your home wish list. Then, prioritize the features on your list.
- Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in, taking into account items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.
- Start saving. Do you have enough money saved to qualify for a mortgage and cover your down payment? Ideally, you should have 20 percent of the purchase price saved as a down payment. Also, don’t forget to factor in closing costs. Closing costs — including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees — average between 2 and 7 percent of the home price.
- Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report to make sure it is accurate and to correct any errors immediately. A credit report provides a history of your credit, bad debts, and any late payments.
- Determine your mortgage qualifications. How large of mortgage do you qualify for? Also, explore different loan options — such as 30-year or 15-year fixed mortgages or ARMs — and decide what’s best for you.
- Get preapproved. Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan. You might need W-2 forms, copies of at least one pay stub, account numbers, and copies of two to four months of bank or credit union statements.
- Weigh other sources of help with a down payment. Do you qualify for any special mortgage or down payment assistance programs? Check with your state and local government on down payment assistance programs for first-time buyers. Or, if you have an IRA account, you can use the money you’ve saved to buy your fist home without paying a penalty for early withdrawal.
- Calculate the costs of homeownership. This should include property taxes, insurance, maintenance and utilities, and association fees, if applicable.
- Contact a REALTOR®. Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help guide you through the process.