Maintenance free homes

I talk about home maintenance quite a bit. And there is a reason. Maintaining your home is important, not just to keep you comfortable but to also preserve your investment. But many people loath the idea of spending their weekend checking their home’s systems, replacing air filters, mowing the yard, washing the siding, cleaning appliances, ad nauseum. They are called chores for a reason. But maybe sometime in the near future we will eliminate the chores and live in maintenance free homes.

Rapid technological advances are certainly making our lives easier. We can do many things in our homes, even when we’re not home! Our homes can even do things while we’re not home.  So how about increasing the quality of our lives by reducing the time spent maintaining our homes?

Maintenance free homes

maintenance free homes
Home Maintenance (infographic from sunlife.com)

Home design and materials tech are leading us to a home where maintenance is minimal or non-existent. Tech innovations has brought us new materials to enhance our homes’ appearance and decrease maintenance. Many of the new materials not only look good, but they are also green which makes our homes more efficient. Many material improvements have been primarily for your home’s exterior. For example, new no-maintenance or minimal maintenance materials for siding, decking and roofs are aesthetically pleasing and can last decades. However, low or no maintenance materials for your home’s interior are increasing in popularity too. Examples include quartz for counters, and prefinished wood for flooring.

The desire for maintenance free homes is not a new phenomenon and can be directly observed by housing choices. New home buyers like the idea that there will be minimal maintenance for the first year. They like feeling confident that everything in the home will work as expected without spending money on service calls, or expensive emergency repairs. Condo buyers like the idea of not having to deal with exterior home maintenance, especially lawn care. Additionally, active adult communities are designed with low maintenance in mind to make living easy and increase quality of life.

Unfortunately, because of their design, some mechanical systems still require care. For example, experts recommend that HVAC systems be serviced twice a year. The service not only checks and tunes the system to operate efficiently, it can identify potential hazards as well. However, to help keep maintenance at a minimum, many homeowners decide to sign up for a service contract. The service contract may also schedule the maintenance for you, which can also help you with time management. Not all service contracts are the same, and due diligence is recommended before you sign any agreement.

I am not dissing those homeowners who love to work on and around their homes. Don’t get me wrong, there is a satisfaction from doing chores and repairs. But there are many who don’t care for it. And not to mention that there are many homeowners who don’t maintain their homes, because of cost and/or inability. A major benefit to living in maintenance free homes is reducing the value-reducing effects of deferred maintenance.

Tech advances in home design and building materials have eliminated a great deal of the maintenance requirements that was necessary in the past. And although some systems in the home require regular care, newer systems increase in reliability. It’s fascinating that because of maintenance free exteriors many homeowners today don’t know what it’s like to paint the exterior of the house every two to three years. Likewise, maybe sometime in the near future, we won’t remember what it’s like changing air filters.

Copyright© Dan Krell
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Protected by Copyscape Web Plagiarism DetectorDisclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Self-driving cars and home buying

self-driving cars
Self-driving cars (infographic from crowdcompanies.com)

Technology has made homes more efficient and environmentally friendly, while also making them more comfortable.  Technology has made the business of real estate become increasingly easier through electronic communications and electronic signatures.  Technology has also made finding a home much easier too.  It’s obvious that the real estate industry has been greatly impacted by technology, but will the self-driving cars technology impact real estate?

A curious article that appeared in a recent issue of Appraisal Journal suggests that self-driving cars will eventually influence real estate (A Largely Unnoticed Impact on Real Estate-Self-Driven Vehicles; Appraisal Journal; Winter2017, Vol. 85, No.1, p51-59).  The authors, Levine, Segev, and Thode, discuss how self-driving cars will likely become a standard on our roads, as well as likely changing the way we think about where we live.  There is a suggestion that the wide spread adoption of self-driving cars could bring about a suburban renewal.  As self-driving cars become more abundant, some suggest that would influence some home buyers and their decisions on where they choose to live.  The concept of owning a self-driving car could make the choice a little easier to opt for the less expensive suburban home with more land.

However, you should consider that owning a self-driving car might not make your suburban commute more convenient.  For many home buyers, a reason to move closer to an urban area is to reduce the commute time to their jobs.  For some, the thought of increasing their commute time even by ten to fifteen minutes (by virtue of an extra metro stop) is unacceptable.  Sitting in your self-driving car is not much different than sitting in a metro car or bus.  So the notion that owning a self-driving car could spawn suburban growth may not hold water.

Owning a self-driving car won’t make the suburban commute less expensive.  Many home buyers decide to live closer to their jobs to save money and energy.  The self-driving car is like any other car, such that there are operating costs.  Regardless whether your self-driving car is electric, gas or hybrid, there are fuel costs.  There will be maintenance costs too.  And of course, you need to a place to park it like any other car.

Even the value of commercial real estate may not necessarily be affected by self-driving cars.  These vehicles won’t reduce travel time to the store, nor would they make any business more convenient than another.

Let’s face it, self-driving cars isn’t the internet.  These vehicles are a convenient way to travel for sure, but they won’t change how we communicate.  Nor will they change the basic requirements we seek from our homes.

However, a government policy shift, much like the policies favoring designated car-pool vehicles and mass transit, could tip the scales in making the self-driving car the vehicle (no pun intended) to changing the real estate landscape.  Creating special lanes for self-driving vehicles could reduce commute times, thus reducing fuel costs.  Requiring dedicated parking for self-driving vehicles could also influence commercial real estate.  However, like the impact of designated car-pool vehicles, a major impact to our lifestyle is unlikely from self-driving cars.

Choosing where you live is a personal decision that is impacted by many external factors, including quality of life.  Of course the self-driving car is a technological advance that is surely to affect how you travel.  However, it is doubtful that owning a self-driving car will largely impact your quality of life and how you decide where to live.  In fact, the authors of the above mentioned article point to a 2016 Kelly Blue Book survey that indicates that a majority of Americans prefer “cars that are not fully autonomous and retain some ability for individual control.”

Copyright© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Domestic robots in home

domestic robots in home
It’s time for domestic robots in home (infographic from tumotech.com)

Today’s smart homes are still a far cry from the futuristic visions of the last century.  Home automation has certainly advanced over the last one hundred years.  Think about the washer and dryer, and even the personal computer.  It’s time for domestic robots in home.  If you’ve seen episodes of the 1960’s TV show The Jetsons, you remember how Rosie the Robot cooked, cleaned and was a companion for Elroy.  Rosie’s legacy has set the bar very high for domestic robots – and we are approaching that standard rapidly!

Many home automation tools that were developed through the 1960’s were not available to the average person because of costs and/or technological limitations.  Consider that remote controlled television was developed in the 1950’s, and color television became widely available during the 1960’s.  The personal computer as we know it was developed in the 1970’s, but wasn’t widely available until the 1980’s.  However, as home automation rapidly progressed with the technological jumps of the last half of the twentieth century, devices became more affordable and common place.  Fast forward fifty years, virtual reality is the home entertainment trend and many refrigerators have more computing power than the PC’s developed in the 1970’s!

Today we take for granted many of the automated systems in our home.  What takes minutes with the help of our modern appliances, took hours with early rudimentary counterparts; and most likely an entire day without any automated assistance.  Certainly the average person fifty years ago would not have imagined their home being automated by programming their appliances, and certainly not on a cell phone.  The 1962 and 1964 World’s Fair introduced the futuristic smart home to the average person; and to some extent, we’ve already surpassed those expectations.  We were introduced to the idea of a centralized “brain” that controlled the home in 1962; and computerized appliances and time saving devices in 1964.

As smart homes advance, robotics will be an integral part of your life.  In fact, you can buy a robot today.  Of course, you’ve heard of Roomba the floor cleaning robot.  Roomba’s parent company, iRobot (irobot.com) also sells a pool cleaning robot and other robotic devices for the home.  There is the Litter-Robot (litter-robot.com) to clean after your cat.  And although they’re not like robots portrayed in the movies, there are humanoid robots for sale today that can be programmed for simple tasks.

Tumotech (tumotech.com), the online magazine about future disruptive technologies and innovations, declared the rise of domestic robots in a May 12, 2014 article The robot revolution – The rise of domestic robots.”  Initially, it is thought that advances in robotics will allow robots to clean homes, take care of the lawn, be a security patrol, and even tend to those who are ill.

As robotics and other technologies rapidly develop and merge, it is conceivable that we will have humanoid robots doing much of our daily tasks and interacting with us as companions in twenty years!  However, having humanoid robots in the home may not be as wonderful as we anticipate.  In their chapter “If I had a Robot at Home… Peoples’ Representation of Domestic Robots,” psychologists Scopelliti, Giuliani, D’Amico and Fornara suggest that robots taking over our daily tasks and moving in to our homes may be detrimental to our self-esteem and personal identity (Designing a More Inclusive World. Edited by Keates, Clarkson, Langdon & Robinson, Springer, 2004).

Copyright © Dan Krell

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Home builders use technology to design efficient homes

A couple of months ago I wrote about what to expect from your future home (Your Future Home ). The following video from Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch (www.MarketWatch.com) illustrates how home builders are looking to assist home owners to build more efficient and cost effective homes. The use of technology allows you to tap into your creativity to create a functional home that is not only pleasing to the eye but easy on the pocket book.
You can also view the video on the Market Watch site.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2010 Dan Krell

Your future home

by Dan Krell © 2010

The “Jetson’s” lived in a futuristic home that combined science fiction with a hedonistic vision of immediate gratification. Even futuristic home exhibits featured at past World’s Fairs seemed like sci-fi movie sets. Although some interesting devices were featured in those futuristic homes (such as the Jetson’s Rosie the robot or their Food-a-Rac-a-Cycle), some have actually made their way into our homes; wall mounted wide screen televisions and microwave cooking are but a couple of the conveniences that evolved from “futuristic” technological advances.

Although futuristic devices are always welcome to make life easier and more fun, the evolution of the home will not occur because of the conveniences that are contained within. Rather, the future home will evolve from changes in living space and lifestyle; location, home size and interior space will be the focus of future home architecture and development.

Location has always been a main consideration when buying a home. The recent real estate market decline confirmed the higher demand for homes located in or in close proximity to major population and employment centers than homes located in “suburbia.” One of the many reasons you may buy a home closer to your job is to decrease your commute. The National Association of Realtors 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers (Realtor.org) indicated that commuting costs are a factor when choosing a neighborhood. Since the cost of commuting is becoming more expensive (in terms of money and time), home buyers as well as home builders will look to the convenience of living “close in,” or at least close to the conveyances (such as metro) that will take you to work.

Your next home may be smaller than you think. The NAR 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers indicated that size matters when it comes to a home; the average size of a home purchased in 2009 was about 1,800 sf. Although the average home size has almost doubled since 1950 (to about 2,300 sf), the trend towards increasing home size has most likely plateaued due to factors that balance the home’s cost, affordability, and the desire to be in a “close in” neighborhood.

Your lifestyle has most likely changed in the last twenty years, just as the average American’s lifestyle has changed – and will continue to change. Changing lifestyles have altered many things in our lives, including how we use our homes. One example is how we entertain; long gone are the “formal” tea parties in the sitting or living room, present-day home owners plan informal gatherings instead (usually ending in the kitchen). Homes that will offer open “flexible” spaces, which are multi-purpose and can be modified by our personal lifestyles, will provide a feeling of being in a much larger home. Additionally, kitchen spaces will blend in with these multipurpose spaces adding to the flexibility and creating the feel of having a large kitchen space. The rooms can be used for entertainment and work centers, while allowing for informal dining and impromptu entertaining.

Your home of tomorrow may not be the futuristic vision that you dreamed about watching Saturday morning cartoons. However, much like current home owners who are transforming their older, “close-in” homes into contemporary “open” spaces, it will be a blend of utilitarianism and style that will be convenient to your office.

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of February 1, 2010. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2010 Dan Krell