Gayle Caughey's Blog
Home automation or smart-home technology is just one piece of the bigger picture that is known as the “Internet of Things.” What this term basically means is that as technologies evolve they are becoming more ingrained into everyday objects.
What was once designated just for personal computers and cell phones is now the domain of any number of everyday objects--from our cars to our refrigerators. This means we can control things remotely, monitor our houses and our belongings, and even see if our babies are sleeping soundly from work via the latest baby monitors.
One of the most recent implementations of these technologies is in our home security systems. Home automation and security are natural companions, give us an ever-increasing number of ways to guarantee our safety within our homes.
In today’s article, we’re going to talk about the objects in our home that can be connected to the internet and how you can improve security at home.
Security or security risk?
Critics of the internet of things often bring up one chief concern--data security. The more objects we connect to the internet the more ways we open our data up to being compromised. To make matters worse, many electronics manufacturers aren’t concerned with the security of the devices they make, giving them no safeguards or encryption against being hacked.
In fact, these objects have already been commandeered by hackers, but not in the way you might think.
A common way to attack a website or service is to simply flood it with more traffic than it can handle. Since WiFi enabled refrigerators, webcams, and baby monitors tend to provide little protection, hackers have found ways to install malware on them that allow them to send all of these devices to a given site in an orchestrated incident known as a DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service). All the while your refrigerator seems to be working normally, but behind the scenes it’s part of a “zombie” army of devices.
What items can connect to the internet?
The number of objects that come equipped with WiFi capability grows every day. Some are extremely useful. They can let you know when you’re out of paper towels or laundry detergent, they can tell you if you forgot to lock the doors or turn out the lights, or you can ask them to play your favorite playlist.
However, just because an item can connect to your WiFi doesn’t mean you should let it by default. You’ll need to consider the pros and cons.
Which items can I trust?
Unfortunately for consumers, there is no “safe to use” list when it comes to the gadgets you might have around your home. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t do your research on the items yourself to look for basic security measures.
First, check to see if the items are password-protected or use some form of authentication. You can often find this information on the manufacturer’s website or in the user guide.
Next, think about who makes the product. Reputable companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon all have a lot invested in the security of their customers. As a result, Google Home, and Apple’s HomePod are likely to have stronger security measures in place.
Finally, you’ll have to take a look at your own security habits. Changing passwords frequently, creating complicated passwords, and being careful with your information online are all ways you can help prevent your data or identity from being compromised.
Want to own a house? Enter the real estate market today, and you can take the first step to make your homeownership dream come true.
Ultimately, there are many reasons to launch a home search sooner rather than later, and these include:
1. You can search for houses in cities and towns across the United States.
There is no shortage of top-notch homes available in cities and towns nationwide. Regardless of whether you want to live in a small town or a big city, you should have no trouble discovering a great residence at a price that you can afford.
Of course, it often helps to establish homebuying criteria prior to starting a home search. With homebuying criteria in hand, you can accelerate the homebuying journey and find your ideal residence faster than ever before.
2. Many home financing options are available.
Although you've always dreamed of owning a home, money might have been a problem. Lucky for you, banks and credit unions offer many home financing options to make it easy for anyone to purchase a residence.
Lenders are happy to meet with you, explain different mortgage options and respond to your mortgage concerns and questions. Then, once you review all of your mortgage options, you can make an informed home financing decision.
Also, it may be beneficial to get pre-approved for a mortgage. If you receive pre-approval for a mortgage, you'll know exactly how much you can spend on a house before you start a home search. Plus, you can tailor your home search based on your budget and speed up your quest to acquire your ideal home.
3. You can receive expert help throughout the homebuying journey.
One of the biggest challenges for a homebuyer is figuring out exactly what to do at each stage of the property buying journey. Fortunately, if you hire a real estate agent, you can receive comprehensive assistance as you go from homebuyer to homeowner.
A real estate agent understands the challenges associated with buying a house. As such, he or she will do everything possible to identify and address these challenges before they escalate.
Typically, a real estate agent will learn about you and your homebuying goals. He or she next will teach you about the local housing market and help you craft a homebuying strategy. And when you're ready, you and your real estate agent can work together to find your dream house.
After you discover your dream residence, your real estate agent will help you put together a competitive offer to purchase this house. If the offer is accepted, your real estate agent will help you navigate the final steps of the homebuying journey. Best of all, if you ever have homebuying concerns or questions, your real estate agent will respond to them immediately.
Take the guesswork out of finding and buying your ideal residence – reach out to a real estate agent today, and you can begin your quest to find your dream house.
- Scrub grout in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Wash pillow and mattress protectors as well as duvet covers.
- Discard any food in the freezer that has become freezer burnt or is past its time.
- Wax any wood floors your home may have.
- Dust fans you have throughout your home. Don’t forget to do this in the winter when they are not in use to avoid build-up.
- Wipe down and disinfect light switch plates and door knobs.
- Wipe down and disinfect your home phones and your family’s cell phones.
- Flush drains. Try a natural solution by pouring baking soda down drains and allowing to sit overnight to deodorize. In the morning pour hot water down the drain to rinse the baking soda out and flush the drain.
- Wipe down walls, doors and baseboards.
- Check the fire alarms throughout your home and replace any batteries when necessary.
- Dust each room in your home.
- Empty all trash bins throughout your home. Don’t forget smaller, less used baskets like in your child’s room or in the office.
- Clean sinks, toilets, and bath of any soap scum or buildup.
- Vacuum and mop the floors throughout your home.
- Wipe down surfaces like tables and counters.
- Clean mirrors and windows.
- Wash sheets and pillowcases.
- Sort through your mail and email inbox. Pay any upcoming bill and file paperwork as necessary.
- Clean fridge out of any food that has gone past its expiration.
- Wipe down appliances in the kitchen such as the microwave, stove, and toaster.
- Wipe down and deodorize trashcans and recycling bins.
- Put out fresh towels in your bathrooms and kitchen
- Tidy up. Keep on top of clutter by putting items away when they are no longer in use.
- Make the beds and if your children are old enough encourage them to make theirs.
- Sort out mail. File and discard as necessary.
- Clean up as you prepare meals to leave time to relax after dinner time instead of spending another hour in the kitchen.
- Wipe up any spills as they happen to avoid having to use elbow grease to clean up later.
- Sweep the kitchen floor and any other high traffic areas.
- Throw in a load of laundry. If you have a large family make laundry more manageable by doing a load a day.
Creating just the right amount of curb appeal can be a delicate balance, but one thing's for sure: Many real estate agents firmly believe that it is the most important factor affecting how long a property remains on the market. That being the case, it's a phase of preparing your home for sale that you don't want to neglect or put on "the back burner."
If your home and property is in reasonably good condition, it may be possible to give it some extra eye-appeal without going overboard on the cost. Here are a few curb-appeal basics to consider as you get your house ready for the real estate market.
Painting: If it's been more than a few years since the outside of your home has been painted, it may be time to either repaint the entire exterior (which won't be cheap) or do some extensive "touching up." Sometimes, simply repainting window trim, shutters, and the front door can help visibly improve the overall appearance of your property. In general, peeling or fading paint will negatively impact the marketability of your home, so it's an issue worth addressing early on.
Power washing: A professional power-washing service can remove unsightly stains, layers of dirt, and discoloration from concrete surfaces, fences, roofs, garages, garage doors, and your home's exterior. One cautionary note about power washing: Applying too much water pressure can potentially cause damage to materials like loose roof shingles, older painted surfaces, crumbling concrete, old slate flooring, untreated wood, and aging fences. Special instructions may need to be given to workers and their manager, regarding delicate surfaces and the need to adjust water pressure accordingly.
Front porch: There are a lot of nice touches you can add to a front porch to make it look more inviting and visually appealing. In addition to making sure floors, steps, railings, windows, and furniture are immaculate, inexpensive upgrades, such as a new welcome mat, mailbox, and house numbers can also make a noticeable difference in the impression you create. Weather permitting, colorful potted or hanging flower baskets will enhance the aesthetic appeal of your property. As is the case with interior home staging, strategically arranging furniture can help prospective buyers imagine themselves relaxing on your porch and elsewhere in your house. That can be a key step in triggering their interest.
Landscaping: When your house is on the market, it's crucial to keep your lawn and shrubs looking manicured at all times. Any hint of overgrowth, dying trees, or weeds can send the wrong message to potential buyers about the quality and desirability of your home. Edging for lawns, flower beds, and sidewalks can often be a relatively inexpensive way to enhance the eye appeal of your property.
A seasoned real estate agent can provide you with more cost-effective ideas on sprucing up the outside of your house to attract prospective buyers.