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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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lockitron

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.

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

Hilarious things left behind when people move out of their house

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) People often forget what changes and additions they’ve made to a house until it is too late. This Twitter thread is a hilarious reminder to take everything with you when you leave.

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hidden in house

There are moments when social media brings people together and gives us comedy gold. Have you ever left something behind when you moved, something that while maybe not so crucially important to you, will definitely offer an interesting insight into your life? Such as a message written behind a wall, or a note hidden in an air duct? Well a twitter thread posted earlier this week opened up Pandora’s box for amusements on this topic and some of these are just getting stranger and stranger.

The original poster, @KaylaKumari, brought it up originally when she asked her mother, who had just recently moved out of her last home, if she’d uninstalled the special fire alarms that she recorded in her voice yelling, “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE BECAUSE MOM’S CANDLES CAUGHT THE HOUSE ON FIRE”. A perfect line, short and succinct. Now some poor family is going to have a fire and some woman’s voice will be ushering them out instead of an alarm. Hopefully there won’t be too much confusion there.

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My parents sold their house like a month ago but my mother JUST realized she did not uninstall the special fire alarms she had put in that are a recording of her own voice screaming at me and my sister to “GET OUT OF THE HOUSE BECAUSE MOM’S CANDLES CAUGHT THE HOUSE ON FIRE”

After that, the tweets and retweets just kept coming. Some of them mostly relating to habits or forgotten moments. In four days, the post has gotten over 17K retweets and/or comments and some of these are gems.

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A lot of people seem to enjoy feeding wildlife as well. Lots of fun shocks to go around. I would recommend however, to disclose that upon sale of the house so you don’t get sued. But this just goes to show that social media can be nice sometimes. A nice uplifting moment in our days.

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Homeownership

Get your DIY home renovations sent directly to your home with Outfit

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) The pandemic has inspired many to upgrade their home (now office) – and Outfit’s service sends custom DIY kits directly to your door.

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Home renovations in progress - person on hands and knees measuring out lines of walls with hammer.

Everybody’s home is feeling a little extra lived-in these days, so it’s no surprise that home renovations are seeing a spike in popularity. While the internet is a veritable stockpile of information, it can be hard to know where to start when making changes to your living space. It’s a problem that Outfit, a DIY renovation service, hopes to fix.

Outfit provides a self-proclaimed “DIY renovation in a box”, and, to their credit, that’s pretty much what their product is: A customized kit with everything you need to make your desired changes to your home. Purportedly, the “everything” aspect is pretty literal; you’ll receive anything from materials to tools depending on your needs, and a companion app guides each aspect of your renovation with tips, walkthroughs, and visuals.

The app is actually a wonder in and of itself. You’ll find the aforementioned walkthroughs and strategies for your space here, but you also have the option to reach out for renovation support from Outfit staff. Should you find yourself face-to-face with a wire you didn’t anticipate, for example, you can snap a photo of the culprit and send it off via the app for an all-clear before proceeding. It’s a delightfully simple solution to the problem of the amateur renovation process.

Incidentally, the lack of price range listed on Outfit’s website inspires trepidation. However, Ian Janicki, the CEO and founder of Outfit, confirmed that the service is priced based on your space and project parameters.

“We evaluate your space and then determine a quote,” says Janicki. Honestly, that’s probably for the best; with the sheer number of moving parts required for any renovation project, being able to pinpoint the necessary materials and resourcesand the appropriate cost thereofis a far better alternative to preset options.

Outfit stands as a cool solution for the average homeowner, but the implications of using this service to prepare or remodel a home for sale are especially intriguing. In theory, having a kit that contains everything one needs to dress up a room or make a house sellable could cut down on waste materials, and brokers might even be able to rope in deals contingent on the effective use of Outfit by the selling (or even purchasing) party.

In short, Outfit is a super cool concept that coincides perfectly with these turbulent times. If you’re interested in renovating any time soon, hit them up for a quote.

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Homeownership

Help clients calculate moving costs in seconds

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Thinking about skipping town? There are a dozen factors to make the decision, but this new tool can help predict whether moving is right for you!

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moving day

“Go where the money is.”

It’s good advice—after all, if you have a doctorate in gathering fruit, your childhood Alaskan home probably isn’t the best place to stay and utilize everything you learned interning in the watermelon industry.

But sometimes moving to earn/save money doesn’t work out.

I wouldn’t begrudge someone moving from NYC to Marfa, TX for following their dreams of a simpler life full of UFO-themed merchandise and X-Files references. If they left expecting to find the same level of public transportation in rural Texas, and didn’t factor in purchasing a car, paying for gas, insurance, and title fees, well. That’s a side-eye’in.

Obviously, no one can ever be 100% sure what’ll happen on big moves in life that don’t involve its conclusion, but realtors CAN help others to help themselves be a little more informed and much more confident.

Where information about the pros and cons of packing up and switching zipcodes for work is concerned; moving company, Move Buddha, has an app for that.

It’s a cute quiz that asks a few gently pointed questions about prospects’ networks, salary expectations, child involvement, spouse involvement, ect: all adding up to the big question made up of several little questions that you can’t ask yourself whilst maintaining your professionalism. That question is: Do you know what you’re doing?

P.S. According to the stats offered in their blog post about the app, if one half of a couple is moving to be with a partner for THEIR new job…there’s a 66% chance that the couple doesn’t know what they are doing.

P.P.S. It let me know that I wouldn’t be saving nearly as much money as I thought moving back to Fort Worth proper to keep up the game of ‘Let’s steal each others clothes and home goods’ I have going with my mother, so that’s definitely something to think/chew through a few pens about.

All in all, this tool, while definitely a promotional accessory for its parent company above all else, is pretty useful. It’s nothing anyone would expect to lay out every little possible outcome, but it does give users a valuable jumping off point to plan where they’re going.

If you’re considering partnering with more moving companies for promotion, formally or otherwise, this brings up a lot of salient points to address with new address seekers, especially the more painful ones that can bring your relationship a little closer and a little more likely to be profitable on both sides.

Verdict: Quiz away!

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