Understanding Smart Home Technology

The Internet of Things is quickly becoming a reality, and there’s no place where this is more obvious than in our homes. According to predictions from market researcher MarketsandMarkets, the global smart home market will grow to about $58.7 billion by 2020, fueling a 17 percent compound annual growth rate and creating a significant consumer market for smart homes. Buyers know the benefits that come with these systems, and they want them in their homes …

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats are one of the quickest and cheapest ways to upgrade a home. A smart thermostat like Nest learns from the homeowner’s habits and preferences and adjusts its settings accordingly. It can also pull the weather forecast from the Internet to set the optimal temperature and create monthly reports, all of which help the home be energy-efficient and save the homeowner money.

Homeowners who use a smart thermometer can save between 10 and 12 percent on heating and 15 percent on cooling bills, according to the company website. Show potential buyers an example of the monthly report that Nest generates to demonstrate how much money they can save with this smart device …

Smart Lighting

Being able to control your lights with your mobile device is a wonderful smart home feature. Philips Hue is probably the most popular example of this type of smart lighting. Homeowners can use a smartphone app to turn the lights on and off as well as change the colors and brightness of the lights. If you have a potential buyer with young children, you could light up one of the bedrooms with a bright pink light to make it feel fun and youthful. If you’re trying to show off a home theater experience in the living room, put LED light strips behind the TV and sync them to music or a video for an immersive experience. This is especially great for highlighting a movie or entertainment room …

Smart Appliances

While getting a new appliance is a good way to increase the value of a home, going one step further with smart appliances makes it a selling point. Whirlpool has developed washers, dryers and kitchen appliances that monitor energy costs and delay or start their cycles when it is most energy-efficient time. Users control these appliances with an app, which enables alerts and remote commands from anywhere there is a data connection …

courtesy of:  http://realtytimes.com/consumeradvice/

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Does It Make Sense to Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances?

4 Tips for Replacing Appliances With Energy-Efficient Models

Buying appliances that use less power can be a smart thing to do, but figuring out when to swap an existing model for what’s often a more expensive version can be tough. The payback for new, energy-saving appliances can vary greatly depending on the age of existing models and your usage habits, as well as the cost of electricity in your area.
The National Resources Defense Council suggests you consider a more efficient model for any appliance that’s more than 12 years old. Here are some shopping guidelines to help you do that:
Choose certified appliances. If you remember only one thing when you shop, make it this: Look for the government-backed Energy Star label. This blue and white logo indicates models that have been certified as using less energy.
Go beyond purchase price. Price shouldn’t be the only factor you consider. Find the EnergyGuide label — a yellow and black tag required on most appliances — and look for the estimated annual cost of operating the appliance. Use both figures to make your decision.
Buy only as big as you need. Bigger isn’t necessarily better. Extra-large appliances require more energy, and they run at reduced efficiency when they’re not operating at full capacity.
Look for energy-saving features. Some models or features can save you more money. For instance, a top freezer refrigerator will use 10 to 25 percent less energy than a side-by-side or bottom-mount model, and a natural gas-powered water heater will typically cost less to operate than an electric model.
New appliances are not only more efficient, but they’ve also been proven to perform the same as or better than older appliances, so you won’t have to sacrifice performance to gain energy savings.
courtesy of:  BrettMills@CFSonline.biz

Small Home Upgrades Offer Big Returns

A recent release by the Appraisal Institute advises homeowners to choose upgrades instead of major remodeling projects to see the greatest potential return on investment.

“In general, simpler, less expensive projects have the best cost-to-value ratio,” says Appraisal Institute President M. Lance Coyle, MAI, SRA. “Homeowners should invest in projects that are most likely to preserve the value of their homes.”

According to Remodeling magazine’s most recent Cost vs. Value report, only five projects saw their cost-to-value ratios rise over the past year: roofing replacement, garage door replacement, 20-gauge steel entry door replacement, vinyl siding replacement and fiberglass entry door replacement. Among projects with the biggest declines were two-story additions, composite deck additions, master suite and kitchen remodels.

Other minor projects with potential major payoffs, says the Cost vs. Value report, are mid-range and upscale garage door replacements, manufactured stone veneer, mid-range window replacements and minor kitchen remodels.

“It’s possible that consumers won’t be able to recoup the cost of the upgrade when the home is sold, so it’s important to meet, not exceed, what’s standard for the neighborhood, and to also consider expected length of time in the property,” Coyle says.

Making routine home repairs is essential to maintaining a home’s value. A house that has been well-maintained will likely have a higher value than a similar house that is in disrepair, Coyle says. For example, replacing worn out trim boards may in certain situations not add any additional value to the home. However, the home’s value is preserved when compared to similar homes in the area without worn-out trim boards.

For an unbiased analysis of what their home would be worth both before and after an improvement project, a homeowner can work with a qualified real estate appraiser to conduct a feasibility study. During this study, the appraiser will analyze the homeowner’s property, weigh the cost of rehabilitation and provide an estimate of the property’s value before and after the improvement.

Some green and energy-efficient renovations – such as adding Energy Star appliances and extra insulation – are likely to pay the homeowner back in lowered utility bills relatively quickly. Lower utility costs are also a draw for potential homebuyers. Use that to your client’s advantage.

Overall, making minor home improvements increases the likelihood that home sellers will get the best return on their investment. Research similar houses in the area to decide which upgrades will best benefit their home’s value.

courtesy of:  http://blog.realestatebook.com/2015/05/14/minor-home-improvements-for-the-best-return/

The Top 10 Features for New Homes

The outdoor kitchen and two-story foyers are starting to lose favor among new home shoppers, while energy efficiency and bigger closets are gaining in popularity, according to a new survey from the National Association of Home Builders. NAHB asked builders to rank home features from 1 to 5 on how likely they were to include them this year in single-family homes they build this year.

An increased interest in energy efficiency is decreasing interest in two-story foyers and rooms, Rose Quint, NAHB’s assistant vice president for survey research, told MarketWatch. “Consumers consider those spaces to be energy inefficient,” she says.

Here are some of the least likely features that builders say they will include in new homes this year:

  1. Outdoor kitchen (cooking, refrigeration, and sink)
  2. Laminate countertops in kitchen
  3. Outdoor fireplace
  4. Sunroom
  5. Two-story family room
  6. Media room
  7. Two-story foyer
  8. Walking/jogging trails in community
  9. Whirlpool in master bathroom
  10. Carpeting as flooring on main level

On the other hand, these home features, builders say, are most likely to be included in a new home this year:

  1. Walk-in closet in master bedroom
  2. Laundry room
  3. Low-e windows
  4. Guest room (kitchen-family-room-living room)
  5. Energy-star rated appliances
  6. 9-foot ceiling or more on first floor
  7. Energy-star rated windows
  8. Programmable thermostat
  9. Two-car garage
  10. Granite countertop in kitchen

courtesy of:  http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/