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5 Ways Smart Home Technology Is Changing the Way We Live In Our Homes

March 13, 2015

Smart Home Hand

It seems as if a new piece of smart home technology is invented daily. Whether it makes our lives safer, more comfortable or more convenient, there is no doubt that we enjoy these products and systems. But how much are they really impacting our lives?

If you take a step back, you will realize that smart home technology is not just about fun gadgets and gizmos. In fact, in many ways, it actually changes the way we live in our homes. Here are five ways smart home technology does this:

  1. Security: It used to require a lot of effort – not to mention money – to install a state-of-the-art security system in your home. And even after it was done, many systems would fall short from providing you things like high-quality video. But nowadays, there are easy-to-install, DIY security systems that can keep you safe. Most importantly, many of them allow you to control and watch over your home from mobile devices.
  2. Temperature Control: You used to have to walk over to the thermostat if you wanted to change the temperature in your home. But with today’s smart home technology, not only do you not have to get up – you don’t even have to be in your home. Some companies now offer technology that allows homeowners to control and change the temperature of their homes remotely, which can make lives more comfortable and also help save money.
  3. Lighting: If you left for a long vacation and realized you left some lights on in your home, you would likely be out of luck. But for those who have invested in new smart lighting, it would be no hassle to turn the lights off from a smartphone. Controlling your home’s lighting remotely can also help keep it safe by creating the illusion that you are at home and deterring potential intruders.
  4. Entertainment: Most of us have been there: struggling to connect specialty devices to our TVs so that we can watch certain programs that are only available on particular platforms. Doing this can be confusing and frustrating, but with manynew entertainment products and systems it is no longer an issue. Certain smart TVs allow users to stream popular apps and shows in high definition – and without complex and expensive auxiliary devices.
  5. Appliances: Wouldn’t it be nice if your clean clothes were warmly waiting for you in the dryer when you got home – regardless of the time? Or if you could tell how much milk you had in your refrigerator while you were in the dairy aisle at the grocery store? Thanks to new smart appliances, these are possible.

Cover image via http://www.digitaltrends.com/home/wink-relay-smart-home-control-panel/

Getting your Home’s Fireplace Ready for the Season

October 18, 2014

The first day of fall is here, and I’ve been eyeing up my fireplace for the last two weeks wondering what I need to do to prepare for the inaugural fire in our new home. Disclaimer: Fireplaces scare me. In every home we’ve ever lived, I’m always worried it’s not in proper working order and our house might burn down. As a result, we end up never enjoying it out of my fear. So in our new home I’ve decided to conquer this pyrophobia by doing some research and bringing in the professionals. Here are three steps to get your home fireplace ready for the upcoming season.

  1. A good cleaning. Get out your shop-vac and remove all the cobwebs or remnants from your last fire. After cleaning out the fireplace, you’ll be able to determine if you need to tackle any mortar repair issues. There are tons of how-to articles for this type of repair, or you can bring in the professionals.
  2. Shine a light on it. While you’re in the garage, grab the flashlight and take a peek up your chimney. According to Gary Spolar of Bay Village-based Century Chimney Sweep, you’re looking for “fuzzy or shiny material” called creosote. Creosote is flammable, so it’s important to bring in professionals to clean.
  3. Protect your outdoor friends. One of the reasons why I’ve been looking at my fireplace more than normal is the strange sounds coming out of it. Since I don’t have a ladder long enough to get up to the chimney vent to inspect what critter has nested, I know I definitely will be calling in the professionals.

Want to see some amazing fireplaces – check out these homes listed on coldwellbanker.com.

Beverly Hills

13 Rules Today’s New Home Buyers Can Learn From The Past

July 16, 2014

Many of today’s new home buyers are Millennials – the generation born in the 80s and 90s – who are now getting married, starting families, and stepping into the real estate arena for the very first time. This is the same generation that grew up in a boom, followed by a bust and an insane decade of home-price escalation, wide scale under-financing, and subprime lending. Having witnessed the housing market’s wild ups and downs, Millennials may be wondering what new rules apply in this evolving real estate realm. Luckily, the ‘new rules’ can be discovered in the same tried and true traditional rules of home buying that were overlooked in years past.

Here are thirteen rules for Millennials looking to buy (while avoiding a housing bubble burst):

1. If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.

2. Don’t jump into a home purchase blindly. Do your research, learn about the area, get advice from others, and study all the available data.

3. No more creative financing: buy properties with traditional 30- or 15-year fixed loans – and know what your mortgage payment will be each month for the entire mortgage term.

4. Always put 20% down.

learningfrompast5. Whatever the bank says you can afford, subtract 20%, and you’ll never be house poor.

6. You’re not just buying a house, you’re buying a neighborhood.

7. It’s harder to get a mortgage because qualifications are more stringent these days. 8. Keep great financial records, and be patient throughout the process.

8. Don’t expect the market to bail you out. That means no overpaying for a house you can’t really afford in hopes of market appreciation making up the difference.

9. Less is more. A smaller, practical, easy-to-maintain house is the new, big, rambling mansion.

10.Stay on top of your credit, and shoot for an excellent score (above 750).

11. Plan to stay in your home at least 5 years. Think you’ll need to sell before then? Keep renting until you know you can stay put for a while.

12. Budget for all the ongoing costs of home ownership – not just the monthly mortgage payment. Be sure you have the funds for property taxes, insurance, maintenance, upkeep, and even an emergency repair fund.

13. If you are questioning your job security and your ability to get a new job quickly in the event of a layoff – don’t buy yet.

To a generation who saw risking everything and buying homes with zero down as the norm, these rules may seem new. But, as they say, everything that’s old eventually becomes new again. In this new era, Millennials simply need to look back to get ahead and buy safely, sanely, and securely in the current housing market.

-Taken from Forbes.com

Taking a Moment to Reflect on What Memorial Day Means

May 23, 2014

usa-flagColdwell Banker SVP of Marketing, Sean Blankenship, takes a moment to reflect on what Memorial Day means to him. In a recent conversation with his grandmother, Sean discovered more about his late grandfather’s time in the military…

This year I asked my grandmother Elizabeth Gaynor, on my mother’s side, to tell me a little about my grandfather’s military service.  While growing up, my grandfather never talked much about war; he was a very proud man who loved his country.  It wasn’t until after his death that my grandmother shared bits and pieces, even memorabilia, from his days serving his country.  And now I’m sharing a piece of that history, along with a link to a YouTube video about the B24 Liberator bomber, with a bit of history about Ford Motor Company, that I bet many of you didn’t realize.

Lt. Col. Lee R.  Gaynor III, United States Air Force

While in high school with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell (yep, for real), Lee decided he wanted to volunteer for the Navy with his buddies when he was 16 and not yet graduated from school.  His mother would not sign the papers because he was too young.  He joined the Army Air Corps. His first overseas assignment was with the 15th Air Force in Italy as a ball turret gunner in B24 Liberator (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKlt6rNciTo).  They flew the Hump, bombed Ploesti, Vienna and many more.

After WWII he was discharged, then recalled during the Korean War, with a tour in Japan as Headquarters Adjutant. As Aide to the Commanding General  of Tachikawa AFB, Lee met many Japanese Officials including Admiral  Nomura.

There was a remote tour in Saudi Arabia in his future where he was again Squadron Adjutant.  Their mission was to teach the Saudi Air Force warfare.  The men lived under Saudi law with no immunity or U.S. protection.

Lee’s assignments within the United States were quite varied – like Office of Special Investigation (OSI), Inspector General, Missile Procurement during the Atlas and Titan missile programs and before retiring was Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense (DEPSECDEF) in Washington, DC.

I’m glad to have this piece of history to carry with me and pass along to my children. My grandfather was more like a father, he raised me, and I will forever miss him.

 -A reflection from Sean Blankenship, SVP of Marketing for Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

5 Super Smart DIY Storage Solutions

March 25, 2014

Storage

We recently came across the article Top 31 Super Smart DIY Storage Solutions For Your Home Improvement on architectureartdesigns.com and was impressed by how simple but genius some of their home improvement ideas are. Here are 5 of my favorite budget friendly ideas that will help you get more organized.

DIY Playroom Storage

Bookshelf + Baskets= Stylish Playroom Organization

playroom e1395669960373 5 Super Smart DIY Storage Solutions

via iheartorganizing

 

DIY Storage Containers for Small Parts

Is your garage or tool room inundated with piles of loose screws, nuts, bolts and other loose items? This simple idea will help you to get organized and find items you need with ease.

tool e1395670342525 5 Super Smart DIY Storage Solutions

via diynetwork

DIY File Box Bathroom Appliance Storage

Create a convenient and safe storage place for your hair essentials.

2226 e1395670655746 5 Super Smart DIY Storage Solutions

via dreamgreendiy

DIY Crate Book Storage

An inexpensive and sweet way to store books.

book e1395671109384 5 Super Smart DIY Storage Solutions

via iheartorganizing

DIY Mason Jars Bathroom Storage

Great idea for smaller bathrooms.

bath e1395670441146 5 Super Smart DIY Storage Solutions

via homedit

 

Click here to see the full list of 31 ideas.

There’s No Place Like Home Sweet Home

January 22, 2014

CWB HomeRocks Instagram 612x612 06 There Is No Place Like Home Sweet HomeInspiration can come from many places. Sometimes it happens when you least expect it. Recently on a business trip to Louisiana I found myself delayed at the airport, sure to miss my connecting flight. Now the last place I’d ever expect to find inspiration is an airport, but it happened.

I’m sitting in the terminal on the phone with the airline’s automated phone system. Seeing me get frustrated, a person sitting across the table from me asked if she could help. Turns out she worked for the airline, but was off duty. After assuring me that the airline would reassign me to a later connecting flight, she asked where home was. At first, I thought it was a little odd that a complete stranger would ask me such a question. Where is home? Hmmm.

 

She didn’t ask where I was “headed.” She didn’t ask where I “lived.” Turns out, home had a special meaning for her. She was headed home to meet her husband who was flying from Afghanistan after a six month tour of duty. She said to me, “he’s finally coming home.” I thanked her for her helping me navigate the airline delay, wished her safe travels home and to please tell her husband “thank you” for everything he does for this country.

Later as I sat there, 37,000 feet above the earth, on my way home I couldn’t help but reflect on the meaning of home, and of course how precious it must be for that serviceman who is hours away from coming home to his wife. And how many people around the world are holding on to that feeling of “going home.” You see the meaning of home is the same everywhere in the world. It may come in different languages, shapes, sizes and certainly represents different emotional moments, but no one ever said “I can’t wait to get back to my long-term financial investment.” Right?

In fact, think about all the different phrases where we use the word “home:”

  • “I can’t wait to get home to and sleep in my own bed.”
  • There was Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home…..”
  • How many moms have said “just wait ’til your father gets home!”
  • There was that great moment in Top Gun when Goose (Anthony Edwards) said “Take me home, or leave me forever!”
  • One of my favorites is “home for the holidays.” How can you not be happy about that?
  • While it doesn’t have “home” in it, how about the term staycation! That’s right, getting away from it all at home.

That’s the feeling we are trying to convey in the first of two ads Coldwell Banker Real Estate will be unveiling in 2014. We call this first spot “Home Sweet Home” and you’ll see why for a couple of reasons. First, the song that is the track for the ad is from the infamous band, Mötley Crüe, and is appropriately titled, “Home Sweet Home.” Second the visuals in the ad convey how each of us from all walks of life experience that feeling of coming home.

I say it’s time we all take a moment and reflect on what “Home” truly means. A place of celebration. A monument of great memories. A moment of tribute to those who help protect our home everyday! That is home sweet home.

Don’t miss the debut of the Coldwell Banker ad, “Home Sweet Home,” on the Grammy Awards which air Sunday, January 26th at 8 p.m. on CBS. Join the conversation on Twitter by following us at@coldwellbanker and using the hashtag #HomeRocks.

D

Legos + Holidays + Home = Amazing Memories

December 2, 2013

I built my first home at around 6 years old. It was actually a castle. Had a moat and even a stable around back. It wasn’t all that big, but it’s where I spent a great deal of time after school. Just so happened that it was made of Legos.

For me, Legos are synonymous with home. I grew up building Lego sets and home was where I played with them. You see, Legos don’t travel all that well and home is where you build them. I can remember going to grandma’s house for Christmas, opening up a brand new Lego set and then anxiously waiting for when we could go home so I could start building. I didn’t want to take a chance building it at grandma’s house and then trying to transport it through a 2 hour car ride home and take the chance of it breaking. No, Legos are built at home.

Not only that, but for me Legos and holidays at home go hand in hand as well. The holidays are usually the times when you get those new sets and you have days off of school to work on putting them together. The week before New Year’s was always dedicated to building new sets. I can remember asking my mom and dad to help me with any sets that had some tricky steps that I just couldn’t do on my own. Once completed, my room would have sections dedicated to displaying my handiwork.

Now as a father and homeowner, Legos are still very much a part of home. I have four boys and two of them are avid Lego builders. The day after Christmas our dining room table is dedicated to assembling the new sets they receive (image below). I’ve spent my fair share of hours alongside them assisting in their construction although now my oldest doesn’t seem to need the hand holding he once did, but I still find a way to put together a few pieces or two for old times sake.

building legos Legos + Holidays + Home = Amazing Memories

The video above that Lego aired in the UK as part of their holiday campaign is one of my favorite depictions of home this holiday season. As you watch it you’ll see that home is the setting for every scene and shapes the memories that are being made.

Whether you’re a Lego fan or not, there’s something magical about building something in your home. And the most wonderful thing you can build is the memory of the moments shared with those you love, especially this time of year.

Here’s to home and all the magical things you build in it…including Legos.

-Author David Marine, Coldwell Banker

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