Creating a Smart Home: Your Introductory Guide

Smart home technology represents a sci-fi vision come to life. We’ve all spent decades imagining a world where we can ask our robot butler to turn out the lights or turn up the heat, and now that reality is here. Unfortunately, it’s also super intimidating. There’s a lot to learn about setting up a smart home, and somehow none of the old TV shows covered the nitty-gritty details like syncing your devices or setting up a secure network.

Never fear: Your smart home dreams are within reach. Once you’ve found the perfect home with Preferred Realty, you can use this guide to turn it into your perfect smart home. Here’s how to get started:

Make Safety a Foundation

If those sci-fi shows wanted to paint a narrative of “smart home gone wrong,” it usually boiled down to your devices growing sentient and, of course, evil along the way. The real dangers of smart home tech are far less exciting but honestly more disturbing.

The more devices in your home you have connected to the internet, the more points of vulnerability you introduce into your life. This means every app-connected washing machine or smart TV makes it that much easier for a bad actor to control your devices and get onto your network. The results of this can manifest as anything from prankster-like behavior (such as turning your TV on and off) to far more dangerous acts (such as hacking into your home surveillance to monitor the best time for a break-in).

We don’t say this to scare you — only to emphasize the importance of digital security. Simple security measures go a long way toward preventing these things. For starters, always secure your WiFi network with a truly random password. Use a password generator rather than coming up with something yourself — humans are very good at creating patterns and, therefore, shockingly bad at random password generation. You should also set up a hidden network for your smart devices. These aren’t completely inaccessible, but they’re much less vulnerable since they won’t show up in “available network” searches.

Start Simple

Many people’s first big mistake with smart home technology is doing too much, too fast. Not only will this put a massive project on your shoulders, but your initial ideas about what you want out of a smart home might be wrong. Starting small — for example, with a smart hub and one or two connected devices — is a better bet.

Pay attention to how you use your devices, and think critically before bringing new tech into your home. Smart home tech is expensive, after all, and you really want to be sure you’ll actually use a device before you bring it in. For example, a smart coffee maker might be a great fit for someone who wants to schedule coffee so it’s ready first thing in the morning, but a bad fit for the manual coffee enthusiast. Building up your smart home network gradually gives you the opportunity to think about these kinds of things.

Focus on Tech That Works For You

It’s easy to picture the fun stuff — blasting your favorite song via voice command, for example — when you imagine your smart home, but there are some extremely practical benefits to smart home tech. For example, you can use a smart thermostat to lower your heating and cooling costs. Smart laundry machines, which send you notifications when they’re done, are perfect for people who habitually forget to move the wash into the dryer.

While you’re outfitting your smart home, you’ll find that these practical features quickly become more valuable than the super exciting stuff that got you into smart home tech in the first place. Make no mistake — a finished to-do list and a manageable utility bill are thrilling in their own way. Good luck building up your smart network. That bright, shiny future is right in front of you.

Need to find the perfect home to smarten up? Get in touch with Preferred Realty to find an agent you can trust.

By Alex Robbins

Photo Credit: Pexels

Golf Cart Fire Safety Tips

Downsizing in your Golden Years

Steps for Downsizing and Finding the Perfect Home for Your Golden Years

Moving is an exciting time whether you’re looking for your first apartment or finding a home that you can enjoy throughout your golden years. When you move as a senior, you have to think about many of the same things as any other home buyer, such as location, price, and amenities. However, you may also want to think about downsizing so you can focus only on what truly matters in your new home. Below, find out what steps you’ll need to take to sell your old house, find a new one, and breeze through the moving process.

Selling Your Current Home

One of the first things you’ll want to do is assess your current home and figure out how much it’s worth. A good way to do this is to check the estimated market value of your home online. Using an appraisal calculator (you can find one of these at PennyMac Mortgage) to estimate the price per square foot can help you set a competitive asking price. A good estimate will also give you insight on other recent home sales in the area so you can get a sense of the market.

 

Keep in mind there are many home improvement projects that can boost the value of your home. Even low-cost upgrades can go a long way in wowing buyers and increasing your home’s appraisal value.

 

Hiring the experts at Preferred Realty Services is another step you’ll likely want to take. Real estate agents can help you navigate everything that goes into selling your home, such as taking photos, listing your home, communicating with buyers, and arranging showings. An agent will also know how to handle situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which has significantly affected the way people tour and buy homes.

Looking for a New Home

Whether you want to move to a smaller home in town or retire in an entirely new destination, you’ll want to start by researching the local housing market. This allows you to gauge how affordable an area is, while also determining your options.

 

Doing your research online also gives you a leg up because it can reveal how fast homes are selling. In Peachtree City, for example, the average sales price is currently $362K, and homes go pending for 26 days on average. With this information, you’ll know how quickly to act, and you’ll have an idea of what you may spend in your preferred area.

Downsizing and Decluttering

If you’re like most seniors, you will probably be focusing your search on smaller homes that are easier to maintain. With this in mind, you’ll likely want to let go of a few possessions so everything fits well in your new home. Senior Safety Advice explains that decluttering can also make your home safer because it gives you clear walkways and reduces tripping hazards. It’s also beneficial for your mental health, as clutter can cause anxiety and stress, according to Psychology Today.

 

Even if it’s beneficial, getting rid of items is often a difficult process. However, moving provides the perfect motivation. If you’re struggling, you may find it helps to hire a professional organizer to guide you through the process. Enlisting the help of your friends or family can make the task more bearable, too.

Moving Advice for Seniors

Moving is stressful for most people, but planning ahead will make the process easier. Booking professional movers will also streamline the process and remove stress. If you plan on using a moving service, make sure you start your search early so you have time to check reviews and schedule your appointment. Following a moving timeline for packing and settling into your new place will also help you stay on top of things.

 

Moving into a new home marks a new chapter in your life. As a senior, you may find that buying a smaller house allows you to lead the lifestyle you’re looking for. Downsizing can be challenging, but it also lets you focus on what matters to you most. By researching market trends, decluttering, and planning ahead for your move, it will be easier to find your new dream home.

 

By Mike Longsdon

 

Your Questions and Concerns as a Tenant During the COVID-19 Pandemic

For most of us, self-isolation was a foreign concept just a few months ago. However, a lot has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit our communities, and with those changes, self-isolation has become the new norm. But even as we all start to adjust, people are still scared and confused about how this pandemic will impact their everyday lives. Your personal situation will look different from what someone else is going through, but there are few things that renters have in common during this crisis. These resources for tenants will help answer your questions, and hopefully, you’ll find some useful tools for staying healthy and maintaining a positive outlook while going through self-isolation.

 

Dealing with COVID-19 as a Tenant

 

Some of these tips are universal, like cleaning and laundry tips to keep your home healthy. Others are especially important for tenants, like what you need to know about potential exposure in common areas.

 

What You Need to Know About Apartment Living During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Renters: How to Get COVID-19 Rent Relief

12 Tips for Being a Great Tenant That Landlords Love for Apartments

9 Tips for Being a Good Dorm or Apartment Neighbor

Your Most Pressing Coronavirus Questions, Answered by Health and Cleaning Professionals

6 Laundry Tips an Expert Thinks You Should Know During the Coronavirus Outbreak

 

Life in Self-Isolation or Quarantine

For those who are currently out of work, the financial hit of losing your income is an obvious challenge. Besides the financial issues, we’re having to adjust emotionally too, all while finding ways to stay healthy and happy.

 

Quarantine is a Challenge When You Live Alone. Here Are 5 Ways I’m Coping

For Roommates Under Coronavirus Lockdown, There Are a Lot of New Rules

How Do I Self-Quarantine? Can I Walk My Dog?

What Exercise Equipment Do You Need to Workout at Home?

Ideas to Help You Stay Fit and Healthy While Social Distancing and Self-Isolating

What Some People Are Doing to Fill the Social Distancing Space

 

Adjusting to life in self-isolation isn’t easy, but one positive thing is that we can learn from each other as we go. Have you found joy in a new hobby? Or, maybe you’ve nailed the perfect at-home workout. Let’s use the connections we have to share our wins, and we’ll all come through this as a community that’s stronger than ever.

 

Photo credit: Pixabay