Your Move Simplified: The 9 Best Apps for Moving

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

It’s no secret that moving is a headache. You need to purchase packing supplies, change your address, clean your current home, and more. Luckily, technology can make the process less painful. Whether you’re choosing the best mover or expertly packing your belongings, there’s an app for it. Read on for useful apps to help you streamline your moving process.

Unpakt
Book, manage, and pay for your move all within the Unpakt app. No need to fill out multiple request forms or call different movers for quotes. Simply enter your move details into the app to see moving prices in several cities across 37 states.

Hire a mover via Unpakt online or on iOS and Android.

TaskRabbit
Get your home or apartment ready for the move by hiring a Tasker to complete home repairs, deep clean your home, and disassemble your bed frame. Services are available in most major cities.

Get your chores done with TaskRabbit on iOS and Android.

MagicPlan
Take pictures of your new home or apartment before your move and use them to create detailed floor plans with MagicPlan. These floor plans allow you to view your space in 3D, decide where to put your couch, and plan DIY projects.

Visualize your space with MagicPlan on iOS and Android.

Wunderlist
Plan your move with Wunderlist, a to-do list web app. Create lists, set deadlines, schedule reminders, and share your list with friends and family helping you move. You can also assign tasks to people you’ve shared your to-do list with.

Make your to-do list online with Wunderlist.

Sortly
Pack with the help of Sortly, a digital organizer. Use the app to take inventory of what you packed in each box so you know where to find your wine opener, your favorite jeans, or your drill. With the premium account, you can create QR code labels for your boxes, access your account online, and export your lists via PDF and Dropbox.

Pack like a pro with Sortly on iOS.

Internet Speed Need Tool
Determine your ideal internet speed with this web app. The tool also shows internet providers in your area that offer your recommended speed—helpful if you’re moving to a new area. The internet speed you need will vary depending on how you use the internet. You may need faster speeds if your kids play video games, if you recently upgraded to a smart TV, or if you run an online business from home.

Determine the speed you need online with the Internet Speed Need Tool.

Postmates
Order late-night meals, cleaning supplies, basic toiletries, or lunch from virtually any store or restaurant in your city. Postmates will deliver the best your city has to offer right to your doorstep—saving you a trip while you’re busy unpacking. Postmates is available in over 200 cities.

Start receiving deliveries through Postmates on iOS and Android.

Nextdoor
Socialize with your new neighbors on Nextdoor, a private social networking app that over 145,000 neighborhoods use to stay connected. Find a babysitter, learn about a rash of car break-ins, and hear about neighborhood events all in one place.

Meet your neighbors through Nextdoor online or on iOS and Android.

Thumbtack
Hire house cleaners, interior designers, carpet cleaners, painters, home security companies, and more, with Thumbtack. Find professionals—in all 50 states—for anything you need in your new home or apartment.

Hire a professional via Thumbtack online or on iOS and Android.

While these apps might not make moving completely pain-free, they can help you get your home ready to move, hire the best mover, and find services in your new neighborhood. Whether you’re moving down the street or across the country, technology can help you save time, money and energy.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Remax Real Estate Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Hi, My Name Is…Owner of a Valuable Home

By Susanne Dwyer

Zillow_Household_Name_Chart

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Call it a household name.

A new analysis from Zillow finds a home owned by a person named Alison or Stuart is likely to be worth roughly two-thirds more than the typical home in the U.S.—for both of them, that equates to over $332,000. The link varies based on location, with some names suited more to one region than others given sociocultural influences.

Ali and Stu are joined by the likes of Anne, Geoffrey, Marina and Peter, to (ahem) name a few, but conventionally female names overtake conventionally male names by a wide margin. The names tied to the most valuable homes also have homes with more living space, generally upwards of 1,550 square feet.

Image Credit: Zillow

At first glance, the names boasting the most valuable homes in each state are common: Janes, Jills and Julies, plus a Martha for good measure. Look again, though—homeowners named Suzanne tend to have the most valuable homes in not one, but two states. Suzanne!

Image Credit: Tenor

Nevermind that home values in Georgia are relatively lower than those in other housing markets. Nevermind that Nevada was ground zero for the collapse. Two states. Two states!

I know what you’re thinking—I thought of it, too:

Note: Zillow’s got everyone covered with a neat tool matching virtually every name ever given with homeownership-related data. Select yours to see the stats!

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Modifying Your House for Disabled Accessibility Without Compromising Home Value

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

While daily life can be challenging with a disability, innovations over the last few decades have made a new level of independence possible for the disabled. Services and products now make it possible for such individuals to attend school, run daily errands, and live in private homes in ever increasing numbers. Being able to live independently also prevents depression, increases lifespans, and can even improve some conditions.

While this stay at home movement offers many benefits to the disabled and elderly, it is not without its costs. Extensive modifications and renovations often have to be made to homes to accommodate disabled residents. Some of these renovations are fairly un-intrusive (such as intercom and camera systems), but some accommodations require major renovations, such as the installation of chair lifts or elevators. If a homeowner considering such renovations is disabled, any associated costs are often accepted as part of the price of independent living. But what about a scenario in which a disabled individual resides in but doesn’t own a private home? This could be costly for a homeowner in more ways than one.

Disabled-friendly renovations to a home can be expensive in a couple of ways. There is the cost of the renovations themselves, which can be an ongoing process. They can limit a home’s functionality and visual appeal for potential buyers, as well. On the other hand, there are a number of cost-effective resources and techniques that both allow these renovations to be made and make a home appealing to both disabled and able-bodied residents.

What Does Adapting a Home for the Disabled Involve?
Adaptations of this type to private homes vary greatly depending on conditions of disability, and it’s possible that these adaptations may have to change over time, just as disabilities do. The vast majority of disability adaptations that are installed in private homes are considered minor ones. This means that they are relatively inexpensive to install, relatively easy to uninstall, and don’t lessen the value of the home in question. Examples of this type of adaptation include:

  • Installing portable ramps
  • Lowering stair railings
  • Physically rearranging interior and exterior areas for easier access
  • Lowering the heights of doorknobs, window latches and light switches to be accessed by wheelchair users
  • Adding or relocating interior and exterior lighting
  • Installing cameras, intercom systems, and adapted telephones
  • Installing modified latches and lock systems to accommodate those who have difficulty using their hands, such as arthritis sufferers
  • Installing lower storage areas in kitchens
  • Installing lever faucets in both kitchens and bathrooms
  • Installing no-slip flooring, grip bars and shower chairs in bathrooms

These types of changes often cost under $1,000 and generally can be done by amateurs. These alterations also don’t cause issues that can affect home values. Adaptations that are considered major alterations to a home include:

  • Installation of elevators
  • Installation of chair lifts on stairs
  • Installation of ramping floors
  • New plumbing in kitchens and bathrooms, including lower sinks, showers and bathtubs and higher toilets
  • Accessible kitchens
  • Adding accessible rooms to house

These types of changes generally cost well over $1,000. Unless homeowners possess various renovation skills, they should be made by professional contractors.

Once such changes are made, they generally become a permanent part of the house. If such changes could limit future use by new owners, this could affect a home’s value.

Saving Money and a Home’s Value When Making Adaptations
Many individuals are unaware that federal grants are available for home modifications to assist the elderly and disabled. These modifications are also deductible at tax time. Such monies can certainly help to defray the cost of adaptations, even minor ones.

Sustaining a home’s worth is probably not uppermost in a homeowner’s thoughts when making changes to accommodate a disabled relative, but making intelligent and thoughtful changes when doing so can help to preserve home value. These include:

  1. Not making permanent changes that impair or interfere with the house’s basic functioning—in other words, the house should continue to be comfortable and accessible to all who use it, regardless of ability levels; and
  1. Going with the professionals—yes, that internet video made dismembering your house look like a snap, but unless you truly have the time and skills needed for major renovations, paying a professional contractor now will save you and future occupants much money and heartbreak later.

Given our aging population, a professionally adapted house done now could be much more in-demand in years to come.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Ask the Expert: What Advice Do You Have for Homebuyers Forgoing a Home Inspection?

By Susanne Dwyer

Today’s Ask the Expert column features Dan Steward, president of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Q: What advice do you have for those thinking of buying a home without waiting for a home inspection?

A: As housing markets continue to heat up, many buyers are forgoing the important step of getting a home inspection. While this isn’t a widespread phenomenon, it can easily occur when a particular market heats up. In fact, when a market gets hot, buyers are afraid that if they put in an offer contingent on the outcome of a home inspection, they may lose the home to others who are willing to take the risk of buying the home without that contingency.

While some have been able to dodge the bullet, others have purchased homes without inspections, only to find that there are thousands of dollars in repairs needed.

In fact, a recent home inspection revealed a crack in the cement floor of a garage attached to a home. While the crack appeared to be tiny, the home inspector later revealed that it was there as a result of a giant oak tree next to the garage. The roots were so huge that the floor would eventually be broken by the tree’s growth. By removing the tree, the cost was only a few hundred dollars; however, the inspector noted that five years down the road, the entire garage floor would have needed to be jackhammered and replaced, costing thousands.

Understanding the importance of home inspections, many of our franchisees offer an immediate post-closing inspection for the sake of catching items that, while small at the moment, can grow into something very large and costly.

For more information, please visit www.pillartopost.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

5 Tips for Finding Vacation Travel Deals

By Susanne Dwyer

Most savvy travelers know that comparison shopping and traveling in the off-season can net significant travel savings. MarketWatch asked a panel of travel agents for some lesser-known tips for finding vacation travel bargains:

Repositioning Cruises – Cruise companies regularly reposition their ships from one region to another, as from Alaska in summer to Mexico or the Caribbean in winter. These twice-a-year cruises are less crowded and provide all the amenities of cruising, all at significant savings.

Score a Bounce-Back Deal – Ever notice what happens when you start to order something on a website but don’t complete the process? You start getting pop-ups, and even emails offering the product at a discount. Try filling in your name and email address at a few of your favorite travel websites and opting in for email offers. Travel companies want your business, and most will offer worthwhile savings to reel you in as a customer.

Think Home, Not Hotel – You can see your destination like a native and save big bucks in the process by swapping homes for a time. Check out sites like Homeaway.com, which lists 41,000 homes in 152 countries. If you’re not willing to swap homes, sites like VRBO.com or Airbnb.com can help you find vacation digs that are frequently less expensive than hotels—and often more comfy, especially if you are traveling with family or friends.

Call Direct – The best prices may not be on travel websites. Calling a hotel direct, even if it is overseas, may not only net cost savings, but put you first in line in popular destinations when/if cancellations open space.

Know When to Book and Travel You may find the biggest discounts on domestic air travel if you book online between midnight and 1 a.m. on Wednesdays or after 3 p.m. on Tuesdays. Also, the cheapest days to fly domestically are Wednesdays, followed by Tuesdays and Saturdays, when demand is lowest.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Top 10 Plants for Designing a Water-Wise Landscape

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Wait! Before you spend thousands on landscaping—or on water-guzzling plants—try planting a DIY drought-tolerant garden. With the right plants, your landscape will be cost-effective, low-maintenance, and beautiful.

Here is a list of 10 plants that won’t break the water bank but will still let you enjoy lush greenery and flowers without having to replant every year. Just be sure to check your hardiness zone and your zone’s growing calendar before planting anything not mentioned on this list to ensure it can withstand your climate.

Northeast

Goldenrod
Goldenrod is so easy to grow that some people call it a weed; it springs up practically everywhere once planted. If you don’t mind prolific yellow tufts that look cheerful in the late summer afternoons, then you’ll love goldenrod. These flowers top out at a couple feet high and bring lots of pollinators like butterflies and honeybees to your garden, so other plants will naturally grow and flourish.

Juniper
Juniper bushes are evergreen, providing a perfect backdrop for other plants during their growing and dormancy cycles. Whether it’s in the dead of winter or summer, you’ll have these fragrant and green bushes to look at. If you’re into attracting nature, you’ll especially love juniper; it was named one of the top 10 wildlife-friendly plants.

Southeast

Baby’s Breath
Baby’s breath is ideal for garden filler flowers, bouquets, drying, and water-conscious people. This low-growing plant blooms all throughout summer and comes back each spring to do it all over again.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea)
For a flower with healing powers, it’s amazing the purple coneflower doesn’t need much TLC itself. This flower loves full sun and soil that’s part sand, clay, and silt (loamy). Plant purple coneflowers in the summer, water until they’re established, and then enjoy purple, red, pink, and white flowers every summer and fall thereafter. Echinacea is beloved by butterflies too, and grows well in nearly all hardiness zones.

Southwest

Desert Zinnia
Seeing lush, beautiful blooms in the desert is a real treat, which is what makes the desert zinnia so rewarding. Just plant the desert zinnia once, and you can watch it bloom for months each year with little to no effort on your part. It’s perfect for hot, dry, and sandy Southwestern states because it can withstand droughts and it comes back each year. Plus, its flowers are bright white, so they integrate easily into your other landscaping plans and color schemes. Start these plants from seeds and enjoy them for years to come.

Prickly Pear
The prickly pear is a cactus—ideal for desert climates. It also provides your landscaping with added security. These plants grow one foot to seven feet tall, and may be planted around entrances to limit burglar hiding places and deter access. The prickly pear also looks pretty—with vibrant flowers in summer—and produces fruit for your family. No one other plant on this list has all these benefits.

Midwest

Daylily
If you don’t have a green thumb, you’ll love the daylily. It grows perfectly well in most hardiness zones and doesn’t have a soil preference. Add on the fact that daylilies don’t have diseases or chronic pests, and it’ll be one of your favorite plants on your property. Once planted, enjoy brightly colored blooms without worry.

Lilac
The lilac is a low-water tree that never grows more than 15 feet tall, making it perfect to add depth and dimension to your garden. Lilacs rely on the hard frost of the Midwest and Northeast to set its buds and return with velvety soft purple and pink flowers each spring. After the root system develops, you won’t need to do much more than pruning and fertilizing once per year.

West

Sage
Sage is a perennial drought-tolerant herb. Though sage dies off in the winter, you can cut it back at the end of the summer, dry the leaves for cooking, and watch fresh new shoots emerge in early spring. The honeybees go crazy over the bright purple flowers that bloom in late spring, helping the plant double and triple in size in just a few growing seasons.

Yarrow
Yarrow is a lovely, bushy perennial that shows off yellow, red, orange, white, and pink flowers each year. It’s perfect for southern areas because it can stand the heat and some cooler temperatures. Yarrow loves full sun and well-drained soil. If given ideal growing conditions, you won’t have to water it at all and it’ll still grow to about four feet tall. Plus, local deer and rabbits don’t generally find yarrow appealing, so it’s less likely to get munched on.

Planting with purpose saves you money, time, and precious water. Plus, in some cases, the plants you choose can enhance your yard’s security or offer medicinal and nutritional value. Get to planting so this season and seasons to come will be more water-conscious and beautiful.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

8 Ways to Make Your Backyard a Summer Paradise

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Summer is the season to be outdoors. It’s the perfect time for backyard barbecues, neighborhood socials, and late-night evenings on the patio. You don’t need to travel to a luxurious and exotic location to enjoy spending time outdoors. Make your own backyard a summer paradise with these eight simple suggestions.

Inspect and Update Wooden Decks
To make your backyard a summer haven, take some time to inspect and update your deck. Wooden patios and decks can be warped by cold weather, so you’ll want to replace loose or missing slats as needed. Sand, stain, and seal your deck once you’ve made sure it’s structurally sound. If you have a stone patio, check for missing pieces and update as needed. Once this is complete, you’ll have a shiny and appealing deck you can decorate with patio furniture—creating a relaxing sitting area for summertime.

Purchase Patio Furniture and Essentials
Once you have a designated patio or deck space, you’ll want to add some patio furniture so you can sit down, mingle with friends and family, and relax. Consider purchasing weatherproof patio furniture that is both comfortable and durable. Patio furniture can be exposed to harsh, seasonal weather, so you’ll want to make sure it lasts for years.

Get the basics, including some lounge chairs, an umbrella, a hammock, and an outdoor table so you can enjoy meals or games outside. In addition to patio furniture, you may want to buy or build an outdoor fire pit. It’s a simple feature that adds so much to your backyard. Sit around the fire and socialize, roast marshmallows or even cook dinner on your own backyard fireplace.

Add Colorful Cushions and Pillows
You’ll want to add a splash of color to your patio so it’s eye-catching and sings of summertime. Buy some bright-colored, comfortable throw pillows and cushions to spice up the furniture. The bright colors and fun patterns will entice people to sit down, relax, and enjoy your backyard paradise.

Get a Rug for the Patio
Consider adding a rug to the patio or deck area to make the space feel cozier. Outdoor rugs vary in material, size, and shape and are generally made to last in all types of weather. They make a great addition to your space, and can also protect your deck.

Install Outdoor Lighting
Nothing is more magical than twinkling lights against a royal-blue evening sky. Add strands of tea lights or other innovative lights to create a fairytale effect in your backyard. In addition to the decorative lighting, you’ll want to consider adding sensor or smart lights to your backyard for added security. Smart lights are a great way to ensure the backyard is lit—you can even control smart lights with your smart phone.

Make the Backyard Private
You may love your neighbors, but that doesn’t mean you want them always peeking into your backyard. Be creative when thinking of ways to ensure better backyard privacy. One easy way to create a private, secluded backyard paradise is to install a fence. Not only does it ensure privacy, but it is an essential safety measure. Install a strong, secure fence to create a private and safe backyard.

Update Your Landscaping
Landscaping can make or break your backyard. It’s essential to take time to update your landscaping to create an outdoor paradise. You don’t need extravagant plants or trees to make your backyard grand. Take some time to cut back unruly trees and bushes, pull the weeds, water and trim the lawn, and plant flowers around the yard. These simple updates will make a world of difference. You’ll have your own secret garden in no time!

Secure Outdoor Belongings
Once you’ve created a magical backyard space, you’ll want to take the necessary precautions to safeguard your belongings. Make sure your garden tools and supplies are in a locked shed—away from kids, pets, and burglars. Take time to assess the backyard for any security breaches. This will keep your family safe and protect your backyard, patio, and deck from major damage.

Summer is a wonderful time to relax and enjoy being outdoors. Update your own backyard and you’ll have access to a private paradise any time you want.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

How ‘Free’ Is Your State?

By Susanne Dwyer

How “free” is your state?

A recent study conducted by WalletHub identifies the most and least “independent” states based on health- and wealth-related dependencies in five categories: “consumer finances,” such as credit scores and emergency savings; “government,” or federal funding; “international trade,” such as jobs supported by exported goods; “job market,” such as employer-offered retirement savings and the unemployment rate; and “personal vices,” such as drug use and gambling.

The most independent state, according to the study, is Colorado, with the lowest unemployment rate; the second-highest share of households that have emergency savings; the second-lowest share of jobs supported by exported goods; the second-lowest share of GDP generated by exports; and the fourth-lowest share of households relying on food stamps and/or other assistance.

The least independent state is Louisiana, with the highest share of GDP generated by exports; the third-highest share of adults with gambling disorders; the third-lowest median credit score; the fourth-highest unemployment rate; and the fourth-highest share of jobs supported by exported goods.

The remaining four of the top five most independent states are:

  1. Utah
  • Highest Median Household Income
  • Highest Share of Households With Emergency Savings
  • Second-Lowest Share of Adult Binge Drinkers
  • Third-Lowest Share of Households Relying on Food Stamps and/or Other Assistance
  1. Minnesota
  • Highest Median Credit Score
  • Second-Highest Employer-Based Retirement Access/Participation
  • Second-Least Federally Dependent
  • Fourth-Highest Median Household Income
  1. New Hampshire
  • Lowest Unemployment Rate
  • Fourth-Highest Employer-Based Retirement Access/Participation
  1. Wisconsin
  • Highest Employer-Based Retirement Access/Participation
  • Third-Lowest Share of Adults With Gambling Disorders

The remaining four of the top five least independent states are:

  1. Kentucky
  • Most Federally Dependent
  • Fourth-Highest Share of GDP Generated by Exports
  1. Alaska
  • Highest Share of Jobs Supported by Exported Goods
  • Second-Highest Unemployment Rate
  • Third-Highest Share of Households Relying on Food Stamps and/or Other Assistance
  1. Mississippi
  • Highest Share of Adults With Gambling Disorders
  • Lowest Median Credit Score
  • Second-Most Federally Dependent
  • Fifth-Highest Share of Households Relying on Food Stamps and/or Other Assistance
  1. West Virginia
  • Second-Lowest Median Household Income
  • Second-Lowest Share of Households With Emergency Savings
  • Fifth-Most Federally Dependent
  1. South Carolina
  • Third-Highest Share of GDP Generated by Exports
  • Third-Lowest Median Credit Score

Source: WalletHub

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

Top 20 States for Home Renovations

By Susanne Dwyer

One of the many advantages of owning a home is the ability to add—and recoup—value. A recent study by Hearth, a FinTech startup, ranked the states with the most homeowners planning to renovate in 2017, with the top 20 states mostly concentrated in the East, Midwest and West:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Kansas
  3. Montana
  4. Rhode Island
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Utah
  7. Michigan
  8. Connecticut
  9. Missouri
  10. Maine
  11. Arkansas
  12. Minnesota
  13. Idaho
  14. Kentucky
  15. Iowa
  16. Nebraska
  17. Massachusetts
  18. Alabama
  19. Tennessee
  20. South Dakota

A sizable share of those in the study reported they would redo their kitchen if their budget were unlimited, as well as their bathrooms, basement and/or living room.

The study also shed light on the ways homeowners plan to finance their projects, with 62 percent of those in the study using cash or savings, 26 percent using a loan, and 12 percent using a credit card. Twenty-eight percent, specifically, use bank loans, while 17 percent use credit union loans and 15 percent use personal loans.

Source: Hearth

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From: Consumer News and Advice

    

Remember I am just a phone call away to help with all of your real estate needs!

Nancy Wey
281-455-2893

5 Life Hacks Using Smart Home Devices

By Susanne Dwyer

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

Clean floors and fresh java are hardly the coolest things you can get from using smart devices like robotic vacuums and automatic coffee makers in your home. Whether you’re already benefitting from smart devices or not, here are some unexpected ways you can harness this smart tech to spice up your home.

  1. Handy Diet Helper
    Door sensors aren’t just for keeping burglars out of your house—they can also help you stick to a diet plan. If you’re counting calories, try adding a sensor to the door of your fridge or cupboard where you keep all the most tempting snacks. This clever hack helps keep you honest whether you’re watching your waistline to get back into your favorite jeans or trying to improve your health after your latest physical.

Vivint offers sleek, discreet door sensors that you can easily add to any door—including your fridge and cupboard doors—and once in place, they’re barely noticeable. If you’ve tried and failed to stick to a healthy regimen, then these sensors could be the extra item you need to be accountable for your diet plan and to be as successful as possible. You can also set up alerts that let your support system of friends and family members know when you’re perusing the fridge for a snack so they can give you a friendly reminder to go for something healthier.

  1. Smart Sleep Aid
    Sometimes, you may struggle to get your zzzs, and a pattern of restless nights can affect your work, health, and attitude. Rather than turning to pharmaceuticals to get your full eight hours, try resetting your body’s natural circadian rhythm with smart lighting that mimics the sun’s rising and setting patterns.

Lighting Science offers bulbs that can make this goal easier to attain. The bulbs give off light that doesn’t interfere with melatonin production and complements your body’s biological circadian rhythm, allowing you to get quality sleep each night. Pair their nighttime and morning bulbs with a smart lighting switch like the Caséta Wireless dimmer and correlating app so you can set your household’s bedtime and wake-up calls with just the swipe of your finger. It’s an ideal solution for back-to-school season or to get ready for and recover from holiday travels.

  1. After School Assistant
    It’s tough to be at work when your little ones get home from school, but thanks to smart technology, you can now greet your kids as soon as they walk in the door—no matter where you are. Two-way video calling lets you welcome your children home, check in on homework, oversee snacks, and make sure they’re attending to chores.

A system such as the Nucleus Anywhere Intercom is the perfect device to help you stay connected. The video-enabled intercom is easy to set up and simple to use. It connects instantly, so you don’t have to wait long for your kids to answer your call. You can also use Amazon’s Alexa to connect to and control the system.

  1. Sneaky Teen Booby Trap
    For some teenagers, sneaking out of the house at night is a rite of passage, but that doesn’t make it safe. If you’re concerned about your teen prowling the neighborhood streets when they should be home, enlist the help of motion-activated lighting to keep them in check.

With Ring’s Floodlight Cam, you can capture your teen sneaking out on video. The system will even light up and sound an alarm when it detects them. These may seem like extreme measures, but there’s no better time to pull out all the stops than when your kids need to be saved from themselves.

  1. Helpful Green Thumb Hack
    Win first prize at the garden club or the county fair by putting smart tech to use in your garden. A Wi-Fi–based plant sensor, like the Koubachi, can finally help you turn your thumb green. This nifty gadget measures ambient temperature, soil moisture, and light levels to ensure your plants get the precise care they need to thrive. The paired app even sends email alerts and push notifications with the latest status of your plants along with up-to-the minute advice to keep your blue ribbon dreams on track.

You can use this one sensor to track multiple plants inside your home or out in the garden—but you need to snap this smart device up fast. The Husqvarna Group recently acquired the Koubachi company, and the current design will only be available through 2018. After that time, you’ll have access to the GARDENA smart system if you’d like to use this tech as you garden.

These life hacks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what smart devices can do for you. Start thinking outside the box with your smart gadgets and stay up to date on the huge variety of devices available. With new technology hitting the market nearly every week, there’s something out there to make anyone’s life easier, more connected, and—yes—smarter.

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From: Home Spun Wisdom

    

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