SMART HOME TECH

Have you installed any Smart Home Tech in you home yet? If so what? If not, why not?
 
According to a Harvard Study, Home Tech is on the rise even in existing homes because of the ease of some DYI projects and the growing numbers of folks desiring to age in place.  https://www.jchs.harvard.edu/blog/more-existing-homes-will-have-smart-home-tech/
 
Here are the Best Smart Home Devices for 2019 according to PCmag.com
SMALL HOME HUBS AND CONTROLLERS 
The Echo is a Bluetooth speaker powered by Alexa, Amazon’s handy voice assistant  
 
Wink Hub 2 is the current PCmag Editors’ Choice for home automation hubs. It works with devices that use Z-Wave, Zigbee, Lutron Clear Connect, Kidde, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. 
 
The Brilliant Control is a unique wall switch that uses Wi-Fi to connect to and control various smart devices in your home.
 
The Logitech Harmony Elite is the ultimate universal remote.
 
The $29.99 iHome iSP6X SmartPlug is a smart switch that does almost everything like allowing you to easily control gadgets and appliances from your smartphone while delivering an unparalleled level of third-party smart home integration.
 
SMART HOME SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS
The iCamera Keep Pro from iSmartAlarm ($199.99) is a full-featured home security camera that not only works as a standalone device but can be incorporated into an iSmartAlarm DIY security system.
 
The Wyze Cam Pan, priced at just $29.99, offers features such as motion and sound detection, time-lapse recording, and free cloud storage, and it adds mechanical pan and tilt and support for IFTTT applets.
 
The SkyBell HD is a video doorbell that lets you see and speak with whoever is outside.  It delivers highly detailed video at 1080p with color night vision and captures several seconds of footage prior to a triggered event. It also integrates with numerous third-party smart home devices and comes with free cloud storage for recorded video.
 
SMART LOCKS AND HOME SECURITY SYSTEMS
The Smart Lock Pro + Connect offers August’s DoorSense technology, Z-Wave compatibility, and Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s easy to install and can be controlled remotely or with Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri voice commands.
 
While ADT Pulse is certainly much more expensive than a DIY system, it offers capabilities those systems simply can’t, including 24/7 monitoring and customer support. It’s the most complete, full-featured home security system PCmag tested, and doubles as an automation platform for your other smart home devices.
 
If you prefer a DIY approach to smartening up your home security, check out the SimpliSafe Home Security System. The system is easy to set up and use and keeps your home safe from intruders and environmental threats like fires and floods.
 
SMART HEATING and COOLING
The new Ecobee4 allows you to have the thermostat do everything that the Amazon Echo and its siblings can, such as control smart devices, shop, play music, and hear the latest news and weather, all using Alexa voice commands.  
 
The Nest Learning Thermostat has Wi-Fi so you can remotely control the temperature from phone, tablet, or PC. 
 
SMART LIGHTING
The Philips Hue line delivers with bulbs that let you control not only the intensity of the light but also the color.
 
Eufy Lumos Smart Bulb White and Color lets you select from over 16 million colors, it doesn’t require a hub, and it supports voice commands via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
 
Ecobee is the first company to embed Amazon Alexa in a light switch with its $99 Ecobee Switch+. The Switch+ is more than just a smart wall switch that connects to your Wi-Fi and can be controlled using a mobile app: It can do everything an Amazon Echo does, such as tell you the current news, weather and sports scores, play music, and control other smart home devices. It also works with Apple’s HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT applets, and the SmartThings Hub, and it will eventually double as a remote room sensor for an Ecobee thermostat.
 
SMART KITCHEN APPLIANCES
The Anova Culinary Precision Cooker uses Wi-Fi connectivity so you control it from anywhere, even when you’re not home. 
 
The Perfect Bake Pro takes out the guesswork and risk when baking. It’s a baking scale connected to an app.
 
The Tovala Steam Oven, the Smarter Coffee, and the AmazonBasics Microwave are all smart kitchen appliances that you can control with your phone or tablet.
 
SMART VACUUMS
The Ecovacs Deebot N79S at $229, is relatively affordable and offers more for the price than any other vacuum PCmag tested. In addition to long battery life and manual steering, it supports features you typically see in far more expensive models such as app control and Amazon Alexa compatibility. It also delivers a stronger clean than other vacuums tested in this price range.  
 
The iRobot’s Roomba i7+ at $949.99 is the most advanced model PCmag tested. In addition to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, multistory mapping, and adaptive camera-based navigation that cleans better as it learns your home’s layout, it’s the only vacuum tested that can empty its own dustbin.
 
iRobot’s relatively inexpensive Braava Jet 240 is a smart mopping robot. It sprays a jet of water to clean deep, and can even do damp sweeping, like a Swiffer.
 
SMART HEALTH AND FITNESS DEVICES
For tracking fat, BMI, water, muscle mass, bone composition, and even pregnancy, look no further than the QardioBase 2. It shares the info it reads with a smartphone app for your easy access. Plus, it just looks great. 
 
SMART BED
Sleep Number’s 360 Smart Bed, which incorporates biometric sensors actually tracts your sleep to help you snooze better.
 
SMART OUTDOOR GADGET
The Polaris 9650iQ Sport offers superb cleaning performance, easy-to-clean debris canister, and multiple programming options as well as Wi-Fi connectivity and a useful mobile app that lets you control the cleaner from your smartphone.
 
The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller gives you control over eight or 16 zones depending on the unit you get, with a master valve terminal for systems that have one. It won’t water the lawn if it’s raining, and you can turn it on and off remotely with your phone. Plus, it integrates with lots of other services and devices like Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, IFTTT, and Samsung SmartThings.
 
The Automower 315X works with a well-designed mobile app that lets you use your phone to start and stop the mower, monitor its progress, create schedules, and see where it’s been on a map of your property. It has user-friendly programming options, outstanding cutting performance, and operates quietly.
IF YOU HAVE A NEED FOR PROVIDERS OR INSTALLERS FOR ANY OF THESE SMART HOME DEVICES, LET US KNOW. WE LIKELY “GOT A GUY” THAT CAN HELP

App vs. Agent: The Rise of the Tech-Enabled Agent

Recently in our team meeting, The Meridian Real Estate Group discussed the question of whether or not a Real Estate App would ever replace a Real Estate Agent.

We determined that despite the many changes in the real estate industry and all the advances in technology to make the process of buying and selling a property faster and easier, the basic steps of haven’t changed.

No matter how many apps are created to try and take the agent out of the equation entirely in order to eliminate their commission, “true professionalism and expertise will never be replaced by the latest app. Technology can do a lot, but the one thing it can’t deliver is that personal touch that comes with great service.” – from Inman News “Why you should never stop learning”

A great example of this was given in our meeting when I proposed a prevailing concern in the real estate industry that Uber basically put the New York taxi drivers out of business, and asked if anyone on our Team thought it would be possible for one of these startup apps or Do-It-Yourself discount brokerage companies to do the same to real estate agents.

John Rose, our Marketing Director, gave a brilliant response. “Uber may put the taxi drivers out of business but it will have little-to-no effect on the limo drivers.” Wait, what?!?! Drop the mic.

That is one of the best examples I’ve ever heard of why professionalism, service, and expertise matter. People will always pay for quality and superior service.

John continued. “That’s why I’m not worried about losing any of our clients to these new DIY Real Estate Apps or Brokerage Companies. Our clients rely on our expertise when it comes to making one of the, if not the, biggest financial decisions of their lives and helping them build their real estate legacy. Our clients expect the best, get the best, and will always be willing to pay for that type of service. No matter what the price point is.”

The newest and latest technology is important but it won’t replace an agent.

“It’s no secret that venture capital firms are spending billions to upend the real estate industry by investing in technology designed to create more efficiencies and conveniences in the home-buying process.

That’s not a bad thing, but without an agent’s involvement in this technology, investors will never see a return on that money. All industries have to adapt in our increasingly digital-based economy or risk becoming irrelevant. Traditional VC firms and strategic investors place bets on companies they feel have the ability to disrupt an industry. However, my colleagues in this field have once again forgotten the fundamentals of disruption. Technology alone will not solve for customer behavior, human emotion, fear of loss, and simple unit economics.

We have an alternative thesis at Keller Williams. Even as we have transformed into a technology company, we have proven that the agents’ experience and customer service remain valuable to home buyers and sellers. The reason consumers will continue to rely on a licensed agent is that buying and selling a home is not a regular habit. This professional’s advice will guide them through a confusing and intimidating process.

The same is true in other industries – doctors still treat patients, lawyers still argue court cases, and real estate agents will continue to help people buy and sell homes. Technology has improved these professionals’ ability to do their jobs, but it has not replaced them. If you are an individual investor or an institutional fund making investments in technology that intends to significantly reduce or replace the role of the agent, you are throwing your money away.”  – from Going all in: Keller Williams invests in bringing its agent-centric technology vision to life, by Mitch Johnson

It’s easy to stay on the cutting edge of technology when you are a part of Keller Williams Realty.

In the next two years, we will ensure that KW agents become “super agents” powered by using one platform to manage the entire home-buying experience.

From accessing listings and scheduling showings to financing, home repairs and more, agents and consumers will soon be able to efficiently coordinate and manage it all with our app.

Ultimately these proprietary technologies will make agents even smarter, faster and more cost-efficient (again, dare we say “super agents”?) when serving their customers and taking their businesses to new heights.”  – from Going all in: Keller Williams invests in bringing its agent-centric technology vision to life, by Mitch Johnson

So, despite the fact that we don’t feel that a real estate app or a do-it-yourself discount broker will ever replace us, The Meridian Real Estate Group does use the most advanced technology available to agents. We look at technology as an aid and not a crutch. It is a tool to make us more efficient and effective for our clients. It assists us in providing them with the best and most accurate information possible. It helps us to provide our clients with a superior experience and the level of service that only “limo” real estate agents can provide.

 

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Eastpark Village: Revitalization Continues in Kennesaw with the City’s Largest Land Assemblage Ever

The Meridian Real Estate Group with Keller Williams Realty Signature Partners worked on behalf of its client, Sanctuary Companies, a Georgia based real-estate development company, to assemble 65 parcels of property located along the Cherokee Street Redevelopment Corridor in Kennesaw, Georgia. Sanctuary Companies along with its partner Varden Properties recently closed on the properties. The $280 million mixed-use development, Eastpark Village, will transform the north gateway to downtown Kennesaw into a vibrant mixed-use community.

Eastpark Village, designed by award-winning architects Miller Architecture, will consist of 850 residential units, approximately 300,000 square feet of commercial, retail, and office space. A Village Green will be surrounded by restaurants, open markets, and residential living. A network of sidewalks and strategically placed parks will connect to Historic Downtown Kennesaw via a 10-foot multi-use trail. Groundbreaking will take place in March 2019 with an estimated three-year completion goal.

City of Kennesaw Zoning Administrator, Darryl Simmons, stated that “this is the largest land assemblage in the history of Kennesaw in terms of the number of parcels with individual owners assembled”. He said the City views this project, along with the Revival on Main in downtown Kennesaw, and the Kennesaw Marketplace at the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Barrett Parkway, as catalyst projects that will change the direction of Kennesaw in a positive way and help to revitalize the entire area.

Mr. Simmons explained that the City identified the area along Cherokee Street stretching from I-75 to downtown Kennesaw as a Redevelopment Corridor Zone, and subsequently adopted an overlay Zoning Ordinance and Form-Based Code to encourage redevelopment of the area. Mr. Simmons has seen significant revitalization efforts along the corridor, including older residential subdivisions and commercial businesses relocating into the area since the adoption of the Ordinance.

“Obviously this is the largest assemblage of residential property that Kennesaw has had; you’re talking over 60 parcels in a small area,” Mr. Simmons said. “There’s a lot of ways it could have gone wrong. There’s a lot of things that could have derailed the project, but because of The Meridian Real Estate Group’s diligent work hitting the bricks every day to keep the project going forward, the assemblage part, which is the heavy lifting, was possible.”

Land assemblages are one of the areas of specialty for The Meridian Real Estate Group. “This one was monumental,” said Tony Morris, Meridian’s founder, “it took us three years to assemble the parcels necessary to put it together, and because of our efforts this will be a legacy project for us, our client, and the community.”

About The Meridian Real Estate Group
The Meridian Real Estate Group is a Keller Williams Signature Partners Team based in Marietta, GA serving clients in both Residential and Commercial Real Estate. The Meridian Real Estate Group is driven by a deep desire to help our clients build wealth through real estate to such a degree that they are able to leave a legacy to their families and loved ones.

 

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Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today as we celebrate the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I want to encourage you to take a moment and reflect on his life and the passion in which he lived it. He had a dream so big that he alone would not be able to accomplish it in his lifetime. He was so passionate about fulfilling his dream that he was willing to give up everything in pursuit of it.

Below are just a few of my favorite quotes from his lifetime. Feel free to add your own. Don’t make this political! If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say it at all here.

“The only reason evil prevails in this world, is because good men and women do nothing.”

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Martin Luther King Jr. was a dreamer, and as my friend, Leif Hetland so beautifully said, “I believe each of us has a dream inside that originated in the heart of God. His desire is to dream with us and then give us the desires of our heart (Ps.37:4). As a son, I have the opportunity to partner with God to make these dreams a reality.”

Everything MLK did with his life was to pave a way to move his dream from just a dream to a reality… consider your dream and the legacy you are meant to leave.

Are your goals and dreams big enough? Are you willing to give up everything for them? What will your legacy be?

 

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Why you need an agent when buying directly from a builder

New Home Construction

Have you ever considered having your dream home built or buying directly from a builder? Stop and consider that despite builders having their own in-house lenders, contractors, and inspectors, buying a home without your own representation could be a costly mistake.

Contract errors that aren’t in your favor, delayed closings, leaving money on the table in sales price negotiations, and missed opportunities for upgrades are all examples of why you should engage an agent before entering a builders sale’s office.

Here are 3 reasons you should hire a professional real estate agent to represent you.

1) Advice and Opinion: Two of the most important and valuable reasons to engage an agent before buying directly from a builder is their advice and opinion. Any home buying endeavor can be filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, and lots of opportunities for things to go sideways. Buying directly from a builder is no different. A professional real estate agent can help you navigate through all the pitfalls that can arise during the home buying and building process. Lot selection, upgrade selections for resale value, inspections, and home plan selection are just a few of the consideration an agent can help you through.

2) Preferred Vendors: A builder will likely have their own preferred vendors including sub-contractors for work outside the scope of what the builder provides such as audio/visual installation, landscaping and sprinklers, etc. as well as their own preferred mortgage lender or title company, however they may not be the best option or offer the best value for you. A real estate professional will have their own vendors and affiliates that they know and trust that you can use to comparison shop to get the best value for you.

3) Expert Negotiations: Despite what they say builder pricing isn’t always set in stone and a professional real estate agent is a trained and skilled negotiator who can potentially help you get a price reduction and or a few extra upgrades thrown in.

By hiring an agent you gain an advocate to fight for you and your best interest from the very first meeting through the day of closing and beyond.

If you are interested in purchasing a new construction home and would like a list of builders in your area or would like to learn more about the new home buying process or are interested in finding the perfect lot to build your dream home on, get in touch with us today. We are here to help!

 

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Mortgage News Update

Here is a video update from our preferred vendor Movement Mortgage on the recent changes to interest rates.

 

 

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Eastpark Village: Kennesaw Revitalization Continues with the Largest Land Assemblage in the History of the City

 

The Meridian Real Estate Group recently closed on a land development deal representing Sanctuary Companies that will transform the area to the north of downtown Kennesaw along Cherokee Street into a vibrant mixed-use community focused on walkability and providing more diverse housing options.        

The development called Eastpark Village is being designed by award winning architect Tony Miller, and will consist of 850 residential units along with approximately 300,000 square feet of commercial, retail, and office space. There will be shopping, restaurants, open markets, courtyards, and a network of sidewalks and strategically placed parks connecting the area to historic downtown Kennesaw. It is an estimated three year development project at $280 million with construction starting in January 2019.

A decade ago the City identified the area, that was underperforming economically and high in crime, as prime for redevelopment. The City had to modify zoning ordinances, adopting form based code, to set the stage for redevelopment in the area.

City of Kennesaw Zoning Administrator, Darryl Simmons stated that this is the largest land assemblage in the history of Kennesaw in terms of the number of parcels with individual owners assembled. He views this project, along with the Revival on Main in downtown Kennesaw and the Kennesaw Marketplace at the intersection of Cobb Parkway and Barrett Parkway, as catalyst projects that will change the direction of Kennesaw in a positive way and help to revitalize the entire area.     

Tony Morris, of the Meridian Real Estate Group, worked diligently over the last three years to put this deal together and get it to the finish line. Darryl Simmons had this to say about the efforts of the Meridian Real Estate Group: “I think the reason why we were successful in getting this done is because you guys were really on your game as far as getting out there, talking to your clients, and talking to the property owners. Obviously this is the largest residential assemblage Kennesaw has had, you’re talking over 70 parcels in a small area. There’s a lot of ways it could have gone wrong. There’s a lot of things that could have derailed the project, but because of your diligent work and you guys hitting the bricks everyday to keep the project going forward, the assemblage part, which is the heavy lifting, was possible.”

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Buying a For Sale By Owner Property

Interested in buying a For Sale By Owner?

Properties being sold as For Sale By Owners or (FSBO’s) are more common than you might think – especially in a Seller’s Market. They account for about 8% of the properties currently on the market for sale. So if you’re currently considering purchasing a property you have, or, will likely come across one of these in your search.

Below are 4 things to keep in mind before purchasing one of these properties.

1. Get Agent Representation: Just because the Seller chose not to get representation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. If you want to ensure the transaction is handled correctly and legally it’s vital that you get a professional to represent you. Market knowledge, proper Contract preparation, access to preferred vendors such as lenders, inspectors and closing attorney are just a few of the benefits of having a real estate professional represent you.

2. Negotiations: FSBO’s are rarely priced correctly. Almost all Sellers believe their property is worth more than it is and almost all Buyers believe a Seller’s property is worth less than it is. This disparity can often become frustratingly evident when dealing with a For Sale By Owner. This is why an Agent is so valuable in these situations. Having a professional negotiator on your side gives you access to real-time property comparable data to help navigate you through the offer and likely counter-offer process to get to the right price and Terms.

3. Home Inspection: An owner may not know that they are legally required to disclose known issues with their property, and that oversight could mean costly repairs for you down the road. A good home inspector can enlighten you on potential problems with the property while you are still in Due Diligence giving you an opportunity to renegotiate or walk away before its to late.

4. Adding Contingencies: Contingencies can allow you a valid way out of a contract should something come up during the Terms of the Agreement, such as hidden issues with the property arising during the inspection, the property not appraising for the sale’s price, or you not being able to acquire a loan. A real estate professional will have the needed expertise to guide you through these Contingencies and other important Contract items such as Exhibits, Amendments, and Special Stipulations. All of which, if crafted correctly, are designed to protect you and your hard earned money.

Contact us for more information on how we can save you time, money, and heart ache by professionally representing you with your next property purchase.

 

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