Inman Real Estate News for Realtors and Brokers 2018-12-15T10:00:07Z https://www.inman.com/feed/atom/ WordPress Laura Ure http://keenability.com/ <![CDATA[11 ways agents fail (and how to avoid them)]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=709810 2018-12-14T20:20:51Z 2018-12-15T10:00:07Z The best way to avoid failure is to recognize — and sidestep — the major pitfalls. Here are 11 ways agents fail and how to evade the major problems. 

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We’ve all seen that real estate show with some young gun, aggressive real estate agent who makes millions and makes it look effortless. But reality TV is anything but real.

It’s human nature to believe that we can accomplish big things by taking a cue from the successful agents we see on TV, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. And a fruitful real estate career will take a little more effort.

The best way to avoid failure is to recognize — and sidestep — the major pitfalls. Below, you’ll find 11 ways agents fail and how to evade the problems.

1. Not investing the time

It’s going to take time to build your real estate career, and there simply isn’t a way to make it go faster.

I spoke to two leading agents to share some of their insights. Miguel Lima, broker for Century 21 Heritage Group, talks about the countless times he has seen agents fail because they don’t take the time to nurture their relationships. To that point, Bryan Sinnett, team leader and broker of Sinnett Realty Group, adds that there is no silver bullet.

In his many years in real estate, he has seen agents (rookies and experienced ones) purchase a franchise in the hope of getting leads fast. He seconds what Lima said, you have to take the time to nurture relationships, and if you don’t, this business just won’t work for you.

2. Being afraid to take risks

The only way to take big steps forward is to take risks. Therefore, if you simply dip your toes in the water you’d likely fall short. If you are committing to real estate, you must be fully in.

I have seen many agents fail because they thought they could do real estate part time and not give it their full attention. Leave your existing job, so you can invest in your real estate career.

It’s a sacrifice, but if you won’t take a risk, you can’t reap the rewards. If you’re waiting for the right time, there is no time like the present. 

3. Not getting support from your family 

Real estate, particularly at the beginning, is going to demand a lot of time and money. You’ll have to discuss these life changes with your family and try to get their blessing as you build your real estate career from the ground up.

Even when you’re settled into your career, your family will need to be supportive when calls come in during dinner, or you have to leave an event unexpectedly. Lima credits his wife Laura for his real estate success. Without her complete understanding he couldn’t have done it.

4. Flying by the seat of your pants

No plan in place? That’s a sure sign that you are going to fail as an agent. When was the last time that you sent out a direct mail piece? When are you planning to send the next one? If you answered I don’t know, or merely shrugged your shoulders, you lack consistency.

It’s extremely important that you have a follow-up system in place and that you reach out frequently to prospects. Investing in marketing here and there isn’t helpful because it does not work. You won’t see results, and you’ll be forgotten.

5. Acting like an employee

According to Sinnett, when you first get into real estate, you have to treat the business like a start-up, not only in the amount of time you invest, but also the money.

To be successful you have to put a lot of time, and there will be a lot of sacrificing. Expect to spend long hours, late nights on the computer and also sacrifice personal time. You’ll also have to invest in your personal brand and the marketing that goes with it, much like a start-up you’ll be unknown.

6. Remaining stuck in your old ways

If you are doing the same thing you’ve always done because it worked ten years before, your future as an agent is grim. Renovating and refreshing your methods will allow you to look back and learn from past mistakes.

Again, risks reap rewards. Granted, change will cause discomfort, but it is absolutely necessary. 

After all, you would not use a Polaroid camera to shoot your listing. Just as technological innovations are constantly redefining our world, your practices, marketing and procedures have to follow suit. Outdated and stagnant marketing practices will rapidly make you obsolete.

7. Picking the wrong brokerage

Knowing where to hang your title can be critical, particularly as a newer agent who requires higher levels of support. Are the brokerage leaders willing to provide training? Are there easily available and affordable marketing resources?

Do other agents work together, or are they fiercely competitive? You can’t be successful if you aren’t given the right tools or if the environment is not conducive to success. Staying with the wrong broker could guarantee your failure.

8. Complaining about clients 

If you like to find things to complain about, you won’t last long in this industry. Working in real estate means working closely with many kinds of people with distinct personalities who are going through different situations; some may be excited, others worried, and still others sad about the move.

There will be a lot of emotions involved, but if you do not have the patience to deal with it all, being a real estate agent is not the career path for you.

Sinnett stays upbeat and ready to support clients every step of the way. He knows how important it is to remain calm and helpful at all times. Unfortunately, he has seen agents fail because they were constantly complaining and as a result became unhappy, which made them more likely to complain and so forth.

9. Putting off idea execution

You might have a lot of amazing ideas, but you lack the drive or means to execute them. You might have an amazing campaign for your brand or a perfect way to get a house sold in record time, but you do not follow through, that is, your ideas never see the light of day.

If things aren’t getting out the door, you are going to find that your phone stops ringing, and your email inbox is fairly empty. To succeed in real estate, you have to be willing to set aside the time and have the drive to execute plans.

10. Not setting goals

As an agent, you must know where you want to go, so that you can map out the steps to get there. Do you want to be the No. 1 agent for your brokerage firm, your city, your price point? Are you looking to work with a team or open your own brokerage firm?

It’s important to have the answers to these questions to make the game plan for getting there. Take the time to think about what is truly important and why you got into the real estate business in the first place.

Your goals might even center around giving buyers or sellers a unique experience that no other agents are offering. Make detailed goals and proceed to figure out how to achieve them.

11. Not having patience

Real estate takes time, a lot of time states Lima. If you aren’t patient with clients, you are going to lose them as  clients. All people are different, and while some may quickly decide on a home, others will need to see many options before they are ready to commit.

As an agent, you have to be in it for the long haul and be understanding of their needs. Buying a house takes time, and it’s a long-term decision. Some clients may take weeks, months or even years, but if you have a strong follow-up system, they will come back to work with you.

You need to be patient if you want to make it as a real estate agent. And again, don’t forget to follow-up.

While surely this list could be extended further, I was looking to keep it to the top reasons real estate agents might fail. Of course, there are other factors that play a role, but by avoiding the items on this list, you are on the right path.

Laura Ure is the CEO of Keenability, a full-service marketing agency specializing in lifestyle and creative real estate marketing. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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Veronika Bondarenko <![CDATA[Gone without a trace: New owners strip all signs of Harvey Weinstein from NYC townhouse]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=710689 2018-12-14T20:54:59Z 2018-12-14T19:40:47Z You won't find signs of Harvey Weinstein at his old New York home — the new owners have completely stripped the property of anything that could remind others of the disgraced Hollywood executive.

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You won’t find signs of Harvey Weinstein at his old New York home — the new owners have completely stripped the property of anything that could remind others of the disgraced Hollywood executive.

The upscale West Village townhouse, which Weinstein sold amid scandal in March for $25.6 million, has been “gutted” by builders preparing it for the new owners, the New York Post’s Page Six reports.

Weinstein’s former West Village townhouse.

After dozens of women came forward with rape and other sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein in the fall of 2017, the movie mogul was ousted from his own media company and became persona non grata in Hollywood. The anonymous buyer took out a $20 million mortgage signed by Bruce Karsh, chief investment officer at private equity company Oaktree Capital Management.

The new owners have been working hard to completely revamp the property. The outside of the house has been boarded up and the windows have been sealed while the inside has been stripped down to the bare walls, according to Page Six.

Weinstein’s former Connecticut mansion.

The same property had once been used to host a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton during her run for president in 2016 and stars including Jennifer Lopez and Sarah Jessica Parker attended.

Weinstein bought the townhouse with his then-wife Georgina Chapman in 2006 for nearly $15 million through a limited liability company called Cheget.

Weinstein’s former Hamptons house.

Over the past year, Weinstein and Chapman, now divorced, have sold off more than $53 million in real estate. Properties sold include a townhouse in Los Angeles for $1.8 million, a mansion in Connecticut for $16 million, and a warterfront estate in the Hamptons for $10 million.

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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Marian McPherson <![CDATA[5 cutting-edge home design trends to keep an eye on in 2019]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=709815 2018-12-14T18:04:09Z 2018-12-14T17:42:11Z As the new year draws near, homeowners are thinking about how to refresh their abode — whether it's buying a new set of pillows or a complete renovation.

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As the new year draws near, homeowners everywhere are thinking about how to refresh their abode — whether it’s buying a new set of pillows and throws for the living room or a complete renovation of a kitchen.

And sellers may be even more inclined to invest in a redo since something as simple as a fresh coat of paint can boost a home’s value by as much as $5,400, according to a Zillow report.

Before going total HGTV, HomeAdvisor home expert and smart home strategist Dan DiClerico says homeowners and sellers should realize that home design trends, unlike consumer fashion, tend to have a longer life since most people tend to do complete overhauls only every 10 to 15 years.

“In general, home design trends tend to move pretty slowly,” he said. “It’s different from the world of fashion where you have whole new clothing looks coming out every year.”

Houzz editor Mitchell Parker echoed DiClerico, saying it’s important to note that design is very personal and that often times a buyer not liking a kitchen backsplash or your bedroom’s paint color isn’t going to make or break a sell.

“For example, backsplash tile is a relatively low-cost project, and let’s say a future homebuyer was touring the kitchen and thought, ‘This backsplash really isn’t for me,’ I don’t think [the sale] is going to become a no-go,” Parker said.

With those ideas in mind, here’s what designers are looking forward to in 2019:

Black and white kitchens

You can never go wrong with black and white. (Photo credit: Marko Poplasen for Unsplash)

In 2017, Zillow Digs named tuxedo kitchens one of the top trends, and according to Parker, they’re not going anywhere soon. “It’s a cliche to say that black is back,” he said. “But it’s always classic and it’s always popular.” He says a black accent wall creates a striking contrast when matched with white cabinets and countertops.

Blended spaces

Open up your living room with large, glass sliding doors. (Photo credit: Andersen Windows)

Blended spaces, the idea of connecting indoor and outdoor spaces, emerged in 2017 and is expected to really take hold in 2019 said Houzz’s Julie Noble. According to Noble, buyers are looking for kitchens that offer easy access to a backyard patio, which is perfect for entertaining. This is usually achieved by installing large, glass sliding doors. If your kitchen doesn’t allow for that, no worries — it works just as well in the living room.

Add a pop of color with ‘Living Coral’

Don’t want a wall full of Living Coral? Use it in your decor. Photo credit: Houzz

DiClerico says one of the easiest ways to bring life to a new space is through repainting. He says Pantone’s Color of the Year choices are always a good starting place for inspiration, and that Pantone’s 2019 choice, Living Coral, will be a favorite amongst homeowners. Not inclined to use such a bold hue? He says blues, greens, and pastels are also gaining traction.

Farmhouse chic exteriors

Create a farmhouse look with white siding. (Photo credit: Houzz)

Feeling a little country? Lucky for you, the farmhouse trend is going strong, especially with exterior home design. The board and batten method siding (gapped wide vertical siding boards with narrow overlying vertical battens to cover the gaps) gives your home a vintage, farmhouse look. Keep it fresh with gleaming, white paint and pops of dark-stained wood.

Not willing to invest in a new exterior? Bring the farmhouse look indoors with reclaimed wood, neutral color schemes with pops of green and blue, and geometric patterns.

Using smart home technology to improve health

Samsung’s SmartHub fridge connects health and nutrition apps. (Photo credit: Samsung)

Home ProjeKt, a Hanley Wood Builder Concept Innovation and Learning program, says homeowners are increasingly looking for ways to improve their overall health starting with what’s in their homes.

“Hanley Wood’s research reveals a fundamental shift among consumers towards embracing a concept we call ‘Wellness Real Estate’ because they see their homes as an invaluable asset in supporting their physical and emotional well-being,” said Barbara Spurrier, managing director of the Well Living Lab, in an emailed statement.

Spurrier noted that homeowners are investing in lighting systems that help regulate sleeping rhythms, smart appliances that connect to health and nutrition mobile applications, and indoor food gardens.

Email Marian McPherson.

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Veronika Bondarenko <![CDATA[John Wayne’s old ranch marketed as great spot to grow weed]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=710644 2018-12-14T16:57:06Z 2018-12-14T16:57:06Z Called Rancho Pavoreal, the Riverside property once owned by John Wayne is listed on the market by Coldwell Banker for $8 million.

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It may have once been home to Hollywood legend John Wayne but, now, a 2,000-acre acre farm in California is being marketed for its marijuana-growing potential.

Courtesy of Coldwell Banker

Called Rancho Pavoreal, the Riverside County property is on the market for $8 million. The listing, which draws attention to the property’s three wells and ample farm space, also lists “cannabis cultivation” for California’s burgeoning industry as one of its possible uses. Other ideas include wine cultivation, cattle raising, equestrianism and hunting.

Courtesy of Coldwell Banker

But no matter how it is used, the California property looks like a gem. Sold by Coldwell Banker‘s Tatiana Novick, the vast farm space has views of rolling hills, mountains and its own creek. A ranch once owned by Walt Disney neighbors the property to the north.

Proud to present actor JOHN WAYNE'S former 2,000-acre ranch called Rancho PAVOREAL. Located in Sage, a small…

Posted by Tatiana Novick on Sunday, May 27, 2018

The ranch also includes a house that has been decorated with rifles and photos of Wayne. While Wayne died in 1979, the property has sometimes been used to host weekend adventure retreats over the years.

Courtesy of Coldwell Banker

Rancho Pavoreal has gone on the market before but, after not finding a buyer, was listed by Novick this April, according to local media outlets. Cannabis cultivation, which became legal under certain restrictions in California in 2016,  is a way to draw attention to the different ways in which the enormous space can be used.

Courtesy of Coldwell Banker

Wayne himself, however, would probably not have approved. Known for playing his iconic cowboy roles on the screen, he was also one of the most vocally conservative actors in Hollywood.

Courtesy of Coldwell Banker

Email Veronika Bondarenko

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Matthew Shadbolt <![CDATA[The Inman Weekender, December 15-16, 2018]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=710642 2018-12-14T16:30:41Z 2018-12-14T16:30:41Z The week's top real estate industry stories, plus practical advice to use this weekend.

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What To Read This Weekend

NAR and Upstream get a divorce
BY PATRICK KEARNS | DEC 11

Realogy’s big bet for 2019
BY PATRICK KEARNS | DEC 13

Do 3D home tours matter?
BY JIM DALRYMPLE II | DEC 12

Get Ready for Inman Connect New York

 

What would you like to see in The Weekender? Sound off in the comments, or let us know

 

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Patrick Kearns <![CDATA[Housing market expected to stabilize in 2019: Fannie Mae]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=710627 2018-12-14T22:28:16Z 2018-12-14T15:30:28Z Economic growth is expected to slow in 2019 which means stabilizing home sales and mortgage rates in the new year, according to Fannie Mae's economic and strategic research group. 

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Economic growth is expected to slow in 2019 leading to stabilized home sales and mortgage rates, according to Fannie Mae‘s economic and strategic research group.

A widening trade deficit and moderation of business investment growth have Fannie Mae’s team predicting that full-year gross domestic product growth (GDP) will slow to a 2.3 percent increase — down from this year’s projected 3.1 percent increase.

Consumer spending will continue to be the largest driver of growth, but in the third quarter of 2018 business investment growth slowed significantly. It could be even further impacted by higher tariffs, uncertainty around trade deals and rising interest rates.

“We expect full-year 2018 economic growth to come in at 3.1 percent — an expansion high — before slowing markedly to 2.3 percent in 2019 and 1.6 percent in 2020,” Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist said in a statement. “Fading fiscal policy, worsening net exports, and moderating business investment all contribute to our projection that GDP growth will begin to slow in 2019.”

Purchase mortgage originations are expected to climb in 2019, but a substantial decline in refinanced mortgages is expected, which should overall result in a small drop in total origination volume, the research team said. Stabilizing mortgage rates — along with expected strong job growth — should give more prospective homeowners a chance to adjust to the new rates, the report states.

“If mortgage rates trend sideways next year, as we anticipate, and home price appreciation continues to moderate, improving affordability should breathe some life into the housing market,” Duncan said.

Email Patrick Kearns

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Teke Wiggin http://www.inman.com <![CDATA[The 17 markets with the most mega sales in the world]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=710535 2018-12-14T18:05:11Z 2018-12-14T14:43:43Z New York City, Los Angeles and Aspen are among the 17 markets with the most mega property sales in the world, according to a new report.

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New York City, Los Angeles, Aspen, Colorado, are among the 17 markets with the most mega property sales in the world.

According to luxury brokerage Knight Frank, each of those locations saw at least three transactions annually over $25 million during the past three years, earning them the distinction of what Knight Frank calls “ultra prime” status.

Sales volume in the ultra prime bracket has generally increased in recent years, as the wealth of people with more than $50 million grew by 18 percent from 2013 to 2017, according to Knight Frank.

And activity in this price segment is expected to rise further over the next five years, with Knight Frank forecasting their wealth to rise an additional 40 percent.

“This growth in global wealth is likely to mean that transactions at the very top-end of the market will continue to increase and spread to more locations that we haven’t highlighted over the previous nine pages,” the report said.

The study found that ultra prime markets can be grouped into three general categories: city markets, ski resorts and second home destinations.

Source: Knight Frank

Topping the city markets were London and Hong Kong, with each market averaging dollar-transaction volume in the “ultra prime” tier of $2.1 billion over the last three years. Next came New York, with $1.5 billion. Other cities included as part of this group included Los Angeles, Singapore and Sydney.

As with city markets, mega sales in second home markets have ticked up over the last three years. In this segment, Malibu, with five sales over $25 million so far this year, and Palm Beach were two American cities that earned spots. The Caribbean, Monaco, Cote D’Azur and the Caribbean also placed in this category.

Three markets in the Alps (St. Moritz, Gstaad and Courchevel), along with Aspen, Colorado, were the ski destinations that made Knight Frank’s rankings.

“The appeal of Aspen is growing not only as a winter destination but also in the summer months,” the report said. “Aspen is making a name for itself as a cultural hub, with the Aspen Institute of Ideas Festival and its Music and Food & Wine Festival.”

As the richest of the rich further grow their fortunes, Knight Frank expects cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Beijing and Shanghai to register higher volumes of mega sales.

Email Teke Wiggin.

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Jim Dalrymple II <![CDATA[Why tech and big money are going to clobber traditional real estate]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=710161 2018-12-13T22:58:04Z 2018-12-14T11:00:17Z A member of a prominent VC firm Andreessen Horowitz believes that big data, big money and changing consumer preferences will remake the industry.

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Waves of data and a flood of money are building a future in which “you’re going to buy your house from, or sell your house to, a company,” according to a member of a pre-eminent venture capital firm.

Alex Rampell, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz (perhaps Silicon Valley’s most famous VC firm, backing Skype, Facebook, Twitter and real estate startups including Airbnb, Divvy Homes and FlyHomes), laid out his vision of the real estate industry’s future last month at a summit in Los Angeles.

Rampell argued that large companies’ access to resources will allow them to be more efficient and disruptive than small companies or agents ever could be. But, Rampell also argued, that isn’t a bad thing because there are “many reasons why it sucks to buy and sell a house right now.”

During his presentation, Rampell ticked off a list of home-selling pain points.

Agents may be good, he argued, but they also might be inexperienced. The industry is rife with conflicts-of-interest, such as when agents represent buyers, but make larger commissions from higher sale prices. Buyers regularly miss out on houses in hot markets because they don’t have cash.

Alex Rampell

And doing real estate transactions can take time.

“The fact that it takes such a long time to buy a house is one of the reasons it is such a terrible experience,” Rampell added.

But there are three forces working against these problems and giving large companies an upper hand, according to Rampell. The first is simply consumer preference, which means people are less willing to put up with the lag time in conventional real estate transactions.

“The idea of on demand is something that really is just a fundamental change in behavior, or rather consumer expectation,” Rampell said.

That gives a huge advantage to companies like Opendoor, which along with other iBuyers eliminates the need to wait for a sale.

Credit: Opendoor

Rampell’s second point was that technology and data allow larger companies to estimate prices and risk more accurately than smaller companies.

He pointed to Zillow’s Zestimate as one product that emerged out of a wave of data and noted that it’d be “hard for individual real estate agents” to come up with something equivalent.

Finally, Rampell’s third point was that after the housing bubble a decade ago, investors began looking for safe ways to put money into real estate. That has produced businesses like FlyHomes, Rampell said, which is among a growing number of companies offering to help homebuyers pay cash.

None of these trends will be especially surprising to observers of the real estate industry, but Rampell’s take is a provocative one nonetheless because of how thoroughly it suggests big companies could dominate.

The implication seems to be that the real estate industry may face the same type of forces that reshaped, say, the book-selling world when mom-and-pop shops fell to Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

Andreessen Horowitz’s take on the industry is a significant one as well; the company has poured funding into an array of transformative enterprises including Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb and Lyft, among many others. The company is also investing in real estate, pouring millions, for example, into rent-to-own startup Divvy Homes earlier this fall.

During his presentation, Rampell described Divvy as one of several companies that are using technology and capital change to “what it means to actually own or rent a residence.” Other such companies include Starcity and its competitors that want to become the “WeWork of housing,” Rampell said.

“A real estate agent could do this theoretically,” he added, “but it’s very, very hard for them because it requires so much capital.”

If Rampell’s predictions pan out, Realtors will face a radically different career in the future. But he believes there will always be a place for agents of some kind.

“It doesn’t mean that real estate agents go away,” Rampell predicted, “it just means that it’s going to be under the rubric of a company.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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Craig C. Rowe <![CDATA[Can smart home devices help sell a home? Part 1: Setup]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=709162 2018-12-13T23:45:55Z 2018-12-14T10:00:24Z Inman is putting the ease of creating a connected home to the test in this three-part series. How easy is it to set up, and can smart-home tech actually help sell a house? Part 1: installation.

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Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

This fall Inman was contacted by MightyPR, a public relations company pitching the idea that a “connected” home can bolster its appeal to buyers.

The email said, “For just a few hundred dollars, real estate agents can use Nest and Google Home products to modernize a listing by making it a smart home that would appeal to the home shopper who appreciates modern gadgets, or just having a more secure, green and efficient household.”

So, we took them up on their offer, and a few weeks later unboxed the following:

  • Nest IQ Cam
  • TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi Plug mini
  • TP-Link Kasa Smart Wi-Fi LED Bulb
  • Google Home Mini

Here’s part one of our experience in creating a connected home, our initial impressions of the products. The second part will entail a more detailed review of how everything worked together.

Remember, the context for this overview is to make the a listing more marketable to prospective buyers.

TP-Link Kasa smart plug

TP-Link’s Kasa smart plug leverages a streamlined, rectangular form factor that nestles home without interfering with other cords. A two-tone LED communicates connectivity, and there’s a hard on-off button on the end.


The app is fast and simple, and it easily navigates the user through the device’s seconds-long setup. Once it finds a Wi-Fi signal and its schedules are set, there’s little to worry about from there after.

The most sensible application for a smart plug is lighting control, and when it comes to showings, managing an empty listing, or creating an impressive open house, the sub-$30 TP-Link Smart plug is seeming quite useful.

TP-Link Kasa smart bulb

With the app already installed from the smart plug, getting this device up and running took under five minutes.

However, setting the schedules can be a bit more time consuming if you’re looking for mood lighting, which this has in spades.

There are presets that will activate the bulb according to circadian rhythms, or you can dive into changing colors every couple of hours or for each day of the week. The options are many.

TP-Link bulbs make any standard lighting fixture “smarter,” and like the smart plug, connect to Google Home for app and voice control. More on that later.

Nest Cam IQ

Technologically speaking, this thing is true sci-fi. Compact and beautifully engineered, it’s as much a physical specimen as it is an intelligent one.

Setup took a couple of minutes after the Nest app was downloaded. Capabilities range from familiar face identification, dog barking notifications, motion alerts, activity history and two-way communication.

The 4K-sensor camera is crisp, and it captures great clips even in low-light conditions. It also channels Google Assistant, meaning you speak to it.

No doubt an impressive mantle-piece, the Nest Cam IQ’s use as a listing value-add beyond sheer technological aesthetics remains, well, to be seen.

Google Home Mini

Compact and sleek with snappy set-up, Alphabet, Inc.’s response to the Amazon Echo smart speaker impresses out of the gate.

Having written and read plenty about the capabilities of such devices, I was surprised to learn that beyond the most basic commands and connections, setup can get rather involved. Actually, it’s been tedious. There’s also confusion about how the Google Home app and Google Assistant app work together.

As of this writing, a couple of hours have been spent on support, there’s been multiple hard resets, and the news can’t be read or voice connections to the TP-Link devices established.

OK Google, tell readers to stay tuned.

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe

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David Norod http://wjdpm.com <![CDATA[6 reasons your investor clients don’t need a home warranty]]> https://www.inman.com/?p=708830 2018-12-14T00:15:05Z 2018-12-14T09:37:56Z Rental property owners often believe that having a home warranty for their rental properties is a smart idea, but that seemingly commonsensical notion is a waste of time and money. Real estate agents should never encourage their investor clients to purchase a home warranty — and here's why.

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As an owner of several rental properties, I used to believe that having a home warranty for my rental properties was a smart idea. Managing over 400 properties in the Northern Virginia market has taught me home warranties are not designed to work for investor clients.

At one point, I had a rental property warranty on each of the 14 rental units I owned, plus I had one on my own personal residence. Initially, it seemed you just pay a reasonable annual fee and a nominal deductible for repairs, and the warranty company pays for everything else. Sounds great, right? Who wouldn’t be enticed by such a deal?

From my perspective, it was purely a matter of common sense — until things started breaking. Then, it was one red flag after another and the problems ensued. The frustrations, difficulty with contractors, hassles and time wasted started accumulating.

That seemingly common sense idea is a waste of time and money, so real estate investors should keep that cash in their pockets — and here are six reasons why.

1. Rental warranties don’t give you a choice

One of the advantages of running a property management company is that our years of serving landlords has led to the assembly of a terrific crew of licensed contractors. In short, we know a lot of great contractors, yet with a home warranty for a rental property, we were not allowed to use any of our WJD contractors.

The home warranty company assigned their vendors according to the specific issue. You might be thinking, that’s typical right? You’ll probably get a decent local specialist out to the property to fix the problem, right?

Well, not exactly — which leads me to the next problem.

2. Who are these home warranty contractors anyway?

I have been in the property management business (and fixing stuff in homes) for about three decades now, so I know most of the residential contractor specialists in my area. Big surprise, I had never heard of any of the vendors they assigned to fix the problems in my properties.

It might be that a few good contractors end up on the list of home warranty preferred vendors, but it seems more plausible that warranty companies tend to just go for the lowest bidders. In my opinion, that doesn’t really bode well for the typical landlord/investor looking for expert help.

Nor does it inspire confidence that repairs will be done right and in a timely manner.

3. Slow service is a major risk

Things got real when I was told the rental warranty contractors have up to 48 hours to respond to a problem.

What? What about water emergencies?

Well, I found out in one extreme instance of water leaking all over my beautiful hardwood floors that water emergencies have the same response time frame as any other problem. Then the situation got worse. I was told by the home warranty company that their contractors would not begin the repair until after they had been paid the deductible.

Woah. So now I have to worry about a tenant paying the deductible at the time of service. What if the tenant doesn’t have the money right away? Or doesn’t want to pay out of pocket (even if their lease requires them to pay it). Yep, you guessed it. That water is still sitting on the hardwood floors waiting for someone to show up with the payment.

And guess what — not all contractors will go to the trouble of contacting you if they fail to collect the deductible from the tenant. And we should also note that some don’t accept credit cards either.

4. They fail to contact the tenant

Communication breakdowns were a real problem! Even though it should be obvious that a home warranty for rental property means dealing with tenants, neither the warranty company nor the assigned vendor contacted the tenant for access to the property and instead they kept calling me even though they had been given the tenant’s contact information.

Meanwhile, the repair delays continued.

Our takeaway? Having a home warranty on multiple rental properties did not give us any kind of priority service.

Whether you’re an individual landlord/investor or a large property management company, you have to wait. First you wait 48 hours for the contractor. Then, you might wait (and stress over) the inevitable deductible payment problem. Then, more waiting while they call everyone but the tenant for access.

Meanwhile, the needed repair waits, your tenants are inconvenienced and you (possibly) wind up with more damage.

5. Those deductibles pile up

We had one home warranty vendor who made repeated trips to a property to deal with a heating issue and collected a deductible for every visit. Naturally, the tenant became very agitated (as did we) because it became evident that the home warranty’s policy was clearly to apply cheap band-aid “solutions” instead of replace the appliance, which was obviously at the end of its useful life.

The furnace was eventually replaced, but not before a number of irate calls to the vendor and the home warranty company. As time progressed, it was clear the home warranty company used substandard contractors. And I learned the age-old lesson that you get what you pay for.

6. The final straw

I had a fluorescent light in the ceiling of my personal residence that stopped working. The vendor assigned by the home warranty company arrived two days after I placed the service call and after pulling the light apart, he told me that it couldn’t be repaired. OK, surely it can be replaced, right?

Turns out the contract he’d “purchased” did not cover replacement of electrical fixtures, only their repair.

Apparently, this was some contractual fine print that I had overlooked. The next morning I called the home warranty company and cancelled all 15 of our contracts and was not rebated any of the annual premium costs, which I had just recently paid.

At that point, nothing about owning a home warranty surprised me and I accepted the loss of my premiums — and said good riddance to bad home warranties.

David Norod is principal broker at WJD Management. WJD has been providing residential property management to Northern Virginia landlords since 1985. Follow WJD on Facebook

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