Saturday, February 06, 2016

Smart Homes Becoming More Common

Smarter Living: How to Automate Your Home

Posted on Feb 1 2016 - 12:51pm by Housecall

ipad smarthome
By Jim Burch
The home of the future doesn't just live in science fiction anymore. You can own it today. Better yet, it doesn't require thousands of dollars or long construction times. Home automation is available and affordable thanks to wireless Internet and smartphones. If you want to make your home smarter and work for you, look at these easy fixes to some of the house's longest-standing issues.
Beyond Health & Wellness
One of the biggest downfalls to completing your health and fitness goals is not a lack of motivation or discipline, but rather a lack of consistency. Stepping on the scale every morning, eating the right meals at the right time and remembering all your workouts in the gym can be tedious and overwhelming.
But when you win the morning, you win the day. So the first thing you should do when you wake up is step on the scale. The FitBit Aria Wi-Fi Scale takes your weight and body fat and sends it directly to your FitBit account online. Smartwatches like the Samsung Gear S2 can measure your sleep the night before and your steps during the day, so you don't have to give a second thought to crunching the numbers.
Beyond Lights
With the exception of incandescent to LED, lights haven't really changed in the last 100 years. They're more efficient and last longer, but you still have to remember to flip them off every time you leave the room (that's harder for some people than others). If you're looking for something better and more innovative, Philips has the answer.
The Philips Hue is an energy-efficient, long-lasting LED bulb with wireless connectivity, so you can control whether it's on or off, and how bright it is with more than just a switch. Want a light to shut off when you leave the room? Hue recognizes when your phone is away and shuts down accordingly. As an added bonus, the Hue can change colors, so you can adjust the mood in your home.
Beyond Temperature
Do you know about vampire energy? That's when the electronics and other devices you have plugged in are still consuming electricity, even when they're turned off. Computers and televisions are notorious for this, but your home's heating and cooling follows the same principle. When you are away at work for eight hours each day, your home continues to consume energy to maintain a temperature as if you were sitting in the living room.
Nest is a sleek, smart thermostat that learns your daily habits so it can raise or lower the temperature while you're gone to help you save money. It also connects wirelessly to your smartphone, so you can adjust the heating and cooling when you're away.
Beyond Security
You may already have a home security system, but it comes with a monthly fee. For example,ADT charges roughly $37 per month for its home-monitoring services, and that's just the starting price.
The Canary is a simple, all-in-one system that monitors your home's activity by watching (with its built-in camera) and listening to its surroundings while you're away. It connects to your Wi-Fi, so it sends you regular updates or emergency notifications if it detects a disturbance. It even measures the quality of air in your home to make sure everything is comfortable and normal. It can't contact the police or sound an alarm if there's a break in, but you are paying a one-time price instead of a monthly fee.
Born and raised near St. Louis, Mo., Jim Burch studied creative writing and journalism while working as an editor for the Murray State News. ​Jim's specialties range from movies and television, to consumer technology, and health and fitness.

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Thursday, February 04, 2016

Super Bowl Sunday Best Value in Compo Beach area Open house 1-3 p.m.

16 Buena Vista Drive    Westport, CT.  $1,999,000

Enjoy a lifestyle change when you fall in love with this new listing at Compo Beach. Morning coffee at Elvira's, a run at the beach, power-walk up Compo Hill and a relaxing dinner at home... this delightful home offers all the comforts and a spacious floorplan, in an exciting location. Step inside to the airy and open entry, which leads to the step-down LR w/ fpl. Entertain in the DR. Gourmet kitchen w/ custom cabinetry, gas stove, Sub Zero & granite counters opens to FR w/ fpl & French doors to the covered patio leading to the large, level yard. Flexible layout incls 1 of 5 BRs on the main level. The luxury master suite w/ sitting rm has a stunning designer bath w/ dramatic freestanding tub. All baths updated. Great bonus room & fin LL.

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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A Grand House for under $ 1.4 million

This home would be closer to $2.5 million in Westport.  Located on Tubbs Spring Court in Weston.

Park-like 2.19 acre setting on a peaceful cul-de-sac, this outstanding custom home was completed in 2011 and incorporates high-level finishes; intuitive layout and special planning to take full advantage of the panoramic views. The two story entry w/ herringbone pattern wood floors opens to stunning living area; dining rooms, each with a fireplace. The kitchen/family room is an ideal place to entertain, with professional appliances, custom cabinetry, abundant pantry space & a wall of French doors leading to the amazing deck that spans the rear of the home. Stunning Great Rm w/ 2-story stone fpl. 5 BRs incl luxurious master suite w/ marble bath & dual w-i-clsts. Fin walk-out LL. 3 car garage, circ drive. Generator.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Cybercrime Hitting Real Estate

I thought that this recent article sent to Real Estate agents would be of interest to the general public.

Cybercrime Hitting Real Estate
By Jessica Edgerton

Online criminals are targeting the real estate industry and stealing large sums of money from unwary homebuyers. This fraud can destroy real estate transactions, so the National Association of REALTORS® is urging real estate professionals across the country to immediately implement safety measures to reduce the risk of becoming a victim.

In a typical scenario, a criminal will hack into the email account of a person involved in an upcoming real estate transaction. The hacker will then send a sham email to the buyer, or another individual who will be wiring transaction-related funds. The email will state that there has been a last-minute change to the wiring instructions. Following the new instructions contained in the email, the recipient will then wire the money directly to the hacker’s account, which will be cleared out in a matter of minutes. The money is almost always lost forever.

Most email users today can easily recognize the email scams that are rife with poor spelling and grammatical oddities. In contrast, the fraudulent emails being utilized in this wire scam are virtually indistinguishable from legitimate communications. Because hackers are gaining access to the email accounts of individuals directly involved in the transaction, they’re able to include detailed information in their fraudulent emails, including key names, dates and mocked-up signature lines.

There are a number of measures that real estate agents and others involved in real estate transactions can take to help keep themselves and clients from falling victim to this crime. First, from the outset of any deal, inform all parties to the transaction of this scheme to ensure that everyone stays alert to suspicious activity. Second, request that all parties implement reasonable security practices throughout the course of the transaction, such as only using confirmed telephone numbers or face-to-face communication to share sensitive financial or personal information. As a final failsafe, immediately prior to wiring any money, the person initiating the wire should call the intended recipient via a verified telephone number to confirm the wiring instructions.

Other important steps to avoiding exposure to email fraud include:
  • Never conduct business over unsecured WiFi.
  • Clean out email accounts on a regular basis.
  • Change email passwords on a regular basis.
  • Implement complex passwords with a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.
  • Implement the most up-to-date firewall and anti-virus
If a fraudster has successfully infiltrated a transaction, NAR recommends the following steps:
  • If money has already been wired via false wiring instructions, immediately call all banks and financial institutions that could possibly put a stop to the wire.
  • Contact your local police.
  • Contact all parties who may have been exposed during the attack so that they take appropriate action.
  • Change all passwords.
  • Report the activity to the FBI via their Internet Crime Complaint Center.
This advice is not all-inclusive, and real estate practitioners should work with information technology and cybersecurity professionals to ensure that their email accounts, online systems and business practices are as secure and up-to-date as possible.

This column is brought to you by the NAR Real Estate Services group.

Jessica Edgerton is associate counsel, Legal Affairs, for the National Association of REALTORS®.

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Thursday, January 07, 2016

Public Open House Sunday January 10th 2-4 p.m. 12 Greenbrier Road, Westport

   Winning collaboration between MILTON,
 premier local builder, & architect  Bruce Beinfield.
 This highly anticipated new home is perfectly
 designed, incorporating every feature and
 amenity that exceeds the dreams of the most 
 sophisticated buyer. Part of an enclave of distinctive
 high-end homes, this residence dazzles w/ sublime

 aesthetics outside as well as in the highly functional 
 interior layout. Extras incl 2nd floor homework lounge
 w/ built-in desks, vast finished LL w/ pro-style gym,

 playroom, au-pair/extra guest suite & game room.
 2-4 p.m.  Sunday, January 10th  12 Greenbrier rd., Wspt.
                            Listed at:  $ 3,999,000


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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

A Final Push As We Approach Year's End

The pattern of 4th quarter escrow increases continued in November, moving the yearly volume close to or above 2014 sales levels, with the exception of Wilton. Wilton has had 191 closed sales through November, compared to 217 at this time last year-a 12% decrease. However, November was a good month for Wilton,  with 21 homes going to contract compared to only 10 in November, 2014.   The median price in Wilton has also progressed positively, though modestly, with an increase of 0.6% to  $820,000.  It is worth noting that Wilton did have a very good 2014, so in terms of comparison this year may be more typical for Wilton than last.

Weston, Wilton’s neighbor to the east, has had a 2015 that closely resembles 2014, with 142 closed sales compared to 141.  14 homes went to contract in November (compared to 8 in November ’14).  It appears that Weston’s final 2015 trending sales will be superior to ’14 . The overall picture is a bit more mixed. It’s median sale’s price, year to date, has dipped 6.5% to $815,000, and housing inventory in Weston continues to remain high at 13.9 months.

Westport continues to play catch-up in terms of sales, and a strong November will likely mean that year-end sales will be equal to ’14. There have been 355 closed sales compared to 360 in ’14.   34 homes went to contract in November (compared to 24 in 2014).  Here again we see housing inventories well above normal levels-currently at 13. 3months.  In a balanced market we would expect to see inventory levels at 6 months or less.

Even in Fairfield, with the highest number of closed sales, inventory levels remain at higher than optimum levels-currently at 8.1 months.  Higher end homes are the main culprits for these higher inventory levels.  Entry level homes continue to trade rapidly in Fairfield, and November saw 87 homes go to contract (a 135% jump over November, 2014).  723 homes have cleared title in Fairfield this year, an increase of almost 120 homes. It’s median sale’s price of $578,000 reflects the preponderance of home sales on the lower end of the real estate spectrum.

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Friday, November 06, 2015

Steady as She Goes

October activity outpaced 2014 levels in all 4 towns that I regularly cover in this blog.  Contracts were up in many towns 100% or more throughout Mid-Fairfield towns.  Meanwhile, the number of closed sales has been a little less vibrant, with most sales running at levels similar to 2014, while a few are ahead.  The New York Metropolitan area, as seen by the Case-Schiller index, is also following a similar trend, up just 1.85% compared to 2014.

Westport had 51 properties go to contract in October compared to 35 in October ’14.  Year to date there have been 357 homes that have gone to contract compared to 341 at this time last year, though there have been 333 closed sales compared to 334 through October in ’14.  The volume of homes coming to the market is up 7%, representing 9.8 months of inventory.  In a more even real estate market we would expect to see 5-8 months of inventory.  The median price in Westport has actually seen a slight dip of 2.1% to $1,295,000.

In Weston there were 21 homes that went to contract compared to only 9 in October 2014. Contracts are up 12.1% year to date, though closed sales are lagging slightly 130 vs. 134 at this time last year.  2014 was a nice bounce back year for Weston, which had seen some softness in sales.  The median price is up 2.5% to $827,000 for the year, though marketing time is still over 180 days.

Our laggard this year appears to be Wilton.  Closed sales are down 10.4%, from 201 at this time last year to 180 thus far.  Yet October was also an excellent month for Wilton with 20 properties going to contract compared to 18 last year.  To add to the mixed results we see an increased median price of $845,000 (+5.6%), yet inventory is up 13.4%-while at 9.1 months, it is more favorable than Weston and Westport levels.  Marketing time has also decreased 8.4% to 142 days on average.

Our volume leader continues to be Fairfield with 667 closed sales, an 18.5% increase.  The median price, though, is practically unchanged at $575,000, compared to $573,000 in 2014.  Clearly entry level homes continue to drive the Fairfield market.  High end sales are up slightly, with 17 sales over $2 million in 2015, but way behind Westport, with 80 thus far this year. The inventory level of 8.4 months is somewhat deceptive, with higher end homes sitting and homes under $1 million continuing to sell at a much more brisk pace.

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