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Homeownership

6 smart locks that will knock off your socks

(TECHNOLOGY) Smart locks are a growing part of the smart home – know these for yourself and/or your clients and you’ll be sock-less (get it?).

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Smart locks can offer a great deal of flexibility and convenience, but there are a few things you might want to consider before installing or recommending one to a client.

Smart locks give you and anyone you choose, the freedom to come and go without carrying a key, however, that’s also the first thing you may want to consider: in order for smart locks to be “smart,” they need power. This means you’ll need plenty of good quality batteries and the foresight to change them regularly; otherwise your smart lock won’t function. 



Also, renters will need to check with the landlord before making any changes to the existing locks, as some leases do not allow you to alter your locks in any way (although there may be a sneaky way around this if folks are so minded, but please bear in mind, you could be evicted or even be breaking the law by installing a smart lock, or any lock, without permission).

Aside from these few considerations, and the rare possibility of the lock malfunctioning, the benefits for most people, over using a traditional, physical key, outweigh the drawbacks. Here are seven of our favorite smart locks on the market:

1. Kevo Kwikset Smart Lock ($215)

kevo smart lock

The Kevo Smart Lock by Kwikset is a favorite for a few reasons. First, Kevo uses a Bluetooth-based close-range authentication system (which is more secure than the geofence auto-unlocking that many other locks utilize). Kevo also gives you several different options for controlling the lock: you can use a physical key, the smartphone app, or a wireless key fob (like the one you likely use for your car).

By accessing the app, you can control eKeys, as well who has access to the eKeys. Kevo also offers a “Kevo Plus” upgrade ($100), that allows you to monitor your Kevo when you’re away from home. This includes the Kevo Plus wireless gateway for monitoring. 

To unlock your door, simply tap the top of the door lock and it will communicate with your phone via Bluetooth and unlock; if your phone battery happens to die before you get home, you can use a physical key, the fob, or log in to your Kevo account from another smartphone and your eKeys will be transferred allowing you access.

The Kevo lock uses multiple levels of encryption to increase digital security and contains Kwikset’s patented SmartKey technology, which is tested to the most stringent lock picking, key bumping, and physical security standards. Nothing will be 100% secure, but Kwikset has been manufacturing locks for more than 60 years and the Kevo is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Grade 2. There are 3 levels, 1-3, with number 1 being the highest rated.

2. August Smart Lock ($200)

august smart lock
Remember when I said there might be an exception for apartment dwellers and renters? The August Smart Lock is the exception. It is a good solution (remembering the caveats mentioned above) for renters who want a smart home but aren’t explicitly allowed to change their locks.

The drawback to this lock is, you’ll need a gateway, the August Connect, much like Kevo Plus, for remote access. The August replaced just the interior plate and lever of your existing deadbolt, so the exterior hardware remains unchanged.

You can also add a few accessories: a keypad, the app, and a wireless connection bridge. In order for the August to be compatible with Echo/Alexa, HomeKit/Siri, or Google Home/Assistant, you will need the Wi-Fi Bridge which is not included. There have also been reports that this lock is particularly bad at draining batteries. While it does have a few drawbacks, it is a good choice for anyone happy with their existing locks, but still looking to add a lock to their smarthome setup.

3. Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt ($230)

schlage
The Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt is the most unique smart lock on this list because you’ll never have to deal with a key or an app to use it. Instead, you use the digital touchscreen. Schlage’s lock integrates with several different home automation systems, including Amazon Alexa.

One of the most unique features about this smart lock is that if anyone tampers with the lock/door, you’ll be notified and if anyone pushes against the door too forcefully, a piercing alarm will sound and you’ll be alerted to help deter break-ins. Schlage’s lock is also the only lock in this list rated one by ANSI. If you’re looking for a lock that will still let friends and family in without giving out a code, this lock still has you covered. You can lock and unlock from nearly anywhere using Schlage’s Z-Wave® technology.

This technology was developed by Schlage in 1999 and uses wireless radio frequency (RF) communication for home devices allowing you to give access on-the-go.

4. Yale Assure Lock SL ($219)

yale smart
Yale Real Living Assure Lock SL is the slimmest smart lock on the market, and if purchased with a Yale iM1 Network Module, it is HomeKit-compatible, so it can be controlled using the Apple Home app, the Yale Secure app, and via Siri voice commands.

It’s available at major retailers, including Lowe’s, Best Buy, PC Richard & Son, and on Amazon. This lock has a reputation for ease of use and reliable integrations.

5. Lockitron Bolt ($99)

lockitron
The Lockitron Bolt is a great choice for users looking to try out smart locks, but are also a bit more budget conscious. The Lockitron is compatible with both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

It can be integrated and automated through IFTTT (If This, Then That). If you’re not familiar with IFTTT, we’ve written extensively about it. Lockitron is introducing what they call Key Match, so this will be another great option for renters as this will allow you to keep your current set of house keys and still use a smart lock. Soon, they will also be introducing the Lockitron Bridge so you can control your lock from anywhere in the world, giving you gateway connectivity. The Bolt is more secure than you might think, given the price tag. They use robust encryption using open, published standards. It is secured at both the protocol and application layers and if you’re worried about security, you can check their security page.

The Lockitron Bolt gives you a basic, affordable smart lock, with a sleek, easily accessible mechanism that is still secure and functional. If you’re looking for a smart lock with all the bells and whistles, however, the Lockitron Bolt, may not be your best option.

6. Friday Lock ($249)

friday
Friday Lock is a true competitor for the August Smart Lock in a sleeker design. Friday Labs ambitiously bills itself as the world’s smallest smart lock at a mere 2.7”. It is ergonomic, small, and functional for everyone. Friday lock securely connects to your phone wirelessly, giving you the ability to lock or unlock your door as you leave or approach, as well as effortlessly share access with anyone you choose. You’ll also receive notifications on your phone for every action your lock takes (every lock/unlock).

Friday Lock comes in seven colors and can also be connected with the Apple HomeKit and Secure Remote Access. It works with all single cylinder deadbolts and can easily be installed with a screwdriver. Friday replaces the thumb latch on the inside of your door, so changing out the lock is simple.

It also has a rechargeable battery in the baseplate, saving you money on batteries. While this lock is a bit on the pricey side, Friday rotates 360 degrees, making it compatible with any deadbolt. If you’re looking to add a sleek, small smart lock to your home automation, Friday is a great choice. 



The takeaway?

While smart lock technology has come a long way, there are still several things to consider before recommending one to a client or installing one yourself: do you still want to be able to use physical keys? Do you need remote access? Should it be compatible with your home automation system? Are you going to be replacing batteries or recharging them?

And for most people, can you afford to switch out all your locks at once, or will you need to do it one at a time? Smart locks certainly offer a level of convenience that cannot be beat by physical key locks, but there are some drawbacks mentioned above.

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Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Homeownership

Modpools repurposes shipping containers into residential pools

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Pools are getting hipper and cooler and Modpools is the proof. Make a splash while swimming in a shipping container – yep, you read that right.

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Treat yo’self to a cutting edge, futuristic pool. Canadian company Modpools repurposes shipping containers into fully-functional swimming pools for residential properties.

Sounds trashy, but this isn’t the dumpster/tarp situation that may come to mind when you hear “re-purposed pool.”

These are post-apocalyptic chic, like when society starts reusing everything for luxurious purposes instead of just survival.

Creators of Modpools, Paul and Denise Rathnam, have worked in the modified shipping industry for over a decade. They wanted to create a pool for their three kids, and eventually released their first Modpool to the public this March.

Containers are purchased from Chinese suppliers after the cargo is shipped to North America, and modified in Modpool’s Canadian factory. Modpools ship anywhere in the world because, well, they’re literally shipping containers.

You can get an 8’x’20 or 8’x’40 pool installed and filled up in a matter of minutes unlike regular pools that can take weeks to be ready.

The pools come standard in a sleek black, and feature a huge clear window to reduce the potential claustrophobia element of hanging out in a shipping container.

Think traditional above ground pools look like trash but live in a state (hi, Texas) with notoriously hard ground?

You’re in luck.

According to the creators, “You can put it in ground, but it’s designed to be above so you can just pop it in.”

Plus, the pools look awesome with decks designed to wrap around the edges.

Oh and hey guess what? There’s a hot tub element too. Every pool features a removable divider to instantly convert half the pool into a hot tub.

If you’re looking for more reasons to love this thing, it’s totally app controlled, and can operate remotely.

Yep—this is a smart pool. Heating, jets, and color-changing LED lights are all programmable via app.

Ultraviolet sanitation keeps all the nasties out of the water and means you won’t end up with weird chlorine halo vision after a long swim session.

For more customization, customers can request specific colors for the outside of the pool, go windowless, or even make it into an endless swim spa.

Modpools also offers a wide variety of pool covers, from snap button to child safe electronically retractable ones, to prevent any mishaps.

It takes around six to eight weeks to create a Modpool, so start saving up your lemonade stand money now.

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Homeownership

NAR launches first ever profile of LGB homebuyers and sellers

(REAL ESTATE) For the first time ever, NAR has extracted data from their massive national profile of buyers and sellers to observe preferences of LGB (lesbian, gay, and bisexual) consumers – pretty interesting insights!

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LGB homebuyer profile

To celebrate Pride Month, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) dug into four years of data from their Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers to unearth similarities and differences between lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual Americans.

“The American Dream of homeownership traverses across the spectrum of our society – including sexual orientation – and Realtors® always have and will continue to advocate so that anyone who wants to, and is capable of purchasing a home, is able to do so,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® from Edina, Minnesota and broker at Edina Realty.

Smaby added, “Realtors® have always embraced the significance of the protections secured by the Fair Housing Act, and have encouraged efforts to extend them by amending our Code of Ethics in 2009 to prohibit discriminations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

For the purposes of this report, it appears NAR has broken the data down into three categories to observe: Heterosexual, Bisexual, and Gay/Lesbian buyers are combined into a third group.

The segment of the population most likely to indicate they’re first time homebuyers is bisexuals (at 58%), followed by gay and lesbian buyers (36%), and heterosexuals (32%).

The most likely to be a first-time home seller was bisexuals (50%), while lesbians, gays, and heterosexuals equally indicated it was their first time (36%) being a home seller.

Bisexuals were observed to be the youngest buyers, a median age of 36 years old, and had the lowest median income of $62,400. In comparison, lesbian and gay buyers were the oldest buyers at 45 years old. Heterosexual buyers reported a median age of 44 and a median income of $91,200, similar to $92,900 for lesbian and gay buyers.

Regarding each group’s preferences:

  • Homes purchased by bisexual buyers are a median of 1,840sf, with a median year built of 1966.
  • Gay and lesbian buyers purchased homes with a median of 1,900sf, and a median year built of 1974.
  • Heterosexual buyers’ median home size is 2,060 median sf, and 1985 is the median year.
  • Bisexual buyers were the most likely to purchase a detached single-family home (86%).
  • Gay and lesbian buyers were the least likely (79%), and only 10% purchased a multi-generational home.
  • Heterosexual buyers were the most likely to purchase a multi-generational home (13%).
      • Lesbian and gay buyers were most likely to purchase in an urban area or a city center (28%).
      • Bisexual buyers were most likely to buy a home in a small town (22%).
      • All sexual orientations were equally likely to purchase in a resort or recreation area (2%).
      • Bisexual buyers were most likely to have made at least one compromise in their home purchase, most likely on the price (28%), style of home (23%) or distance from their jobs (23%).
      • Lesbian and gay buyers were the least likely to have compromised on convenience to schools (7%).

      Regarding other demographic info:

      • Bisexual home buyers were less likely to identify as white/Caucasian than lesbian/gay or heterosexual buyers (77%, compared to 88% and 85%, respectively).
      • Bisexuals are nearly twice as likely to identify as Hispanic than both groups (13% compared to 7%).
      • Fully 14% of bisexual buyers were born outside of the U.S., versus 7% of lesbian and gay buyers.
      • 38% of bisexual home buyers identify as single females.
      • 25% of gay buyers identify as single men.
      • 22% of lesbian and gay buyers identify as an unmarried couple (38% as a married couple).
      • 15% of bisexual buyers identify as an unmarried couple (34% as a married couple).
      • 7% of heterosexuals identify as an unmarried couple (66% as a married couple).
      • 38% of heterosexual buyers have children in their household.
      • 29% of bisexual buyers have children in their household.
      • 11% of lesbian and gay buyers have children in their household.

      “The number of home buyers and sellers who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual has remained steady at 4% since we first included the question in our HBS survey in 2015,” said Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Given that Millennials now make up 37% of home buyers and attitudes regarding sexual orientation continue to shift even among Generation Z, we expect to see this percentage increase in future surveys as younger generations are more likely to self-identify as LGB.”

      Editor’s note: For the purpose of citing this study and for logistics, we used NAR’s terminology, making an exception to our internal policy to only use the acronym “LGBTQIA+” in all stories.

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Homeownership

Boomers are downsizing, leaving unwanted heirlooms

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) As baby boomers downsize and capitalize on senior management, heirlooms and antiques are falling to the wayside (they just don’t spark joy).

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There’s nothing quite like moving to make you realize how much stuff you have. When every single item in your household has to be boxed up and carted elsewhere, it’s easy to be startled by the sheer volume of material possessions you own.

Often, when we move, we end up taking an opportunity to purge our belongings. Bags and boxes are donated to thrift stores. Hand-me-down clothes are passed to the neighbors. Keepsakes are re-gifted to friends.

This can be a painstaking process at any age, but a particularly emotional one for aging retirees.

The numbers show that, between the ages of 18 and 54, we tend to move into ever bigger houses. It makes sense – you start out with an affordable one bedroom place. You get married, have kids, and need to move into something bigger.

Retirees are on the opposite tip.

Their grown children have moved out, they are getting older and would like to lighten their load of housework and maintenance. After age 55, people typically move from larger dwellings into smaller ones.

A growing “senior move management” industry has arisen to fulfill the particular needs of the older set. The trade group, the National Association of Senior Move Managers boasts 950 member companies.

These companies handle everything from hiring the moving trucks to changing your address to renegotiating your cable contract for your new home.

Industry insiders say that one of the trickier aspects of their job is managing those precious items that won’t fit in the new home, but that the mover would like to keep “in the family.” Parents and grandparents often hope that their children and grandchildren will adopt their treasured heirlooms and collections. But the younger set isn’t having it.

The adult Millennial children of the Baby Boomer generation have their own style and taste that may not match their parents’. Many are living in small dwellings themselves with minimalistic aesthetics. An antique oak hutch simply isn’t going to mesh with a twenty-something’s Ikea-inspired bachelor pad.

The younger set also doesn’t entertain in the same formal style as the older generation, making silver flatware and fancy china obsolete. It’s not about being ungrateful, it’s about wildly different styles between generations.

What it boils down to is: just because mom thought it was precious, doesn’t mean that daughter gives a damn.

Says Kate Grondin of the senior move management company Home Transition Resource, “We can help soften the blow if the kids don’t want anything but are afraid to tell their parents.” Sometimes the kids flatly refuse to inherit items like furniture, art, or dishware that their parents have held onto for decades, or even generations.

Other times, in order to avoid hard feelings, the kids might take items, only to turn around and throw or give them away.

When moving elders ask senior move manager Anne Lucas of Ducks in a Row, “‘What do I do with my crystal and china?’” she tells them “‘Drink your OJ out of it. Who cares if the gold comes off? The kids don’t want it.’”

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