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Homeownership

LifeDoor automatically closes doors to save homes and lives

(TECH NEWS) LifeDoor is one of the smartest devices we’ve seen in ages and could save peoples’ lives and protect their homes.

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The way that we build our homes, with synthetic materials, furniture, and cheaper construction is making our homes more flammable – House fires spread 600% faster today than 40 years ago, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. This means that every second counts.

And while most us have some warning system: smoke detectors, and maybe even fire suppression systems built into our homes, there is a very easy way to help slow the spread of fire in your home: closing your door.

Research by the UL Fire Safety Research Institute concluded that closed doors do a number of things including:

  • A closed door can help keep back heat and prevent rooms reaching dangerous temperatures.
  • A closed door keeps more oxygen away from the fire so it allows you to breathe better.
  • Closing the bedroom door at night gives you more time to react to a smoke alarm.
  • Closed doors keep dangerous smoke away from you – smoke and toxic gasses can incapacitate you and keep you from escaping the fire.
  • Closing door cuts fire off from a fuel source and can better contain the fire.

And of course, where there is an opportunity, our internet of things has a solution.

In case you don’t automatically shut your doors (perhaps you’re a free spirit, a Gemini? Who knows?) There is a gadget for that. Lifedoor is a gadget that integrates with existing smoke detectors and does three things: it closes the door of the room, illuminates the room to help the occupant make a better decisions, and sounds a secondary alarm that can help wake your more heavier sleepers.

The product easily installs onto the hinge of a door and then attaches to the door with screws or even double sided tape. It activates when it hears the tone of the triggered smoke alarm (which is standardized at 85 decibels, #FunFacts).

For those of you who may fear the worst – this does not render the door unopenable and the battery should last 18-24 months depending on use.

One particular note about this new product is that its support has largely come from firefighters – and those guys know their stuff.

Hopefully, you won’t have to experience a housefire. But even if you don’t invest in LifeDoor – remember that closing your own door can keep you safe by giving you more time. And nothing is more important than being prepared: make sure you follow the best home fire practices you can – learn more from the American Red Cross.

Kam has a Master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and is an HR professional. Obsessed with food, but writing about virtually anything, he has a passion for LGBT issues, business, technology, and cats.

Homeownership

How to fight scams that continue to victimize homebuyers

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Real estate scams continue to victimize people, but Realtors are in a position to better protect homebuyers.

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Despite warning after warning and news story after news story, homebuyers keep getting their money stolen in real estate wire transfer schemes. Some blame the mortgage and real estate industries for not doing enough to educate and protect their clients. Others say the people committing these crimes are getting more and more sophisticated. No matter who’s to blame, there’s no arguing that this crime is on the rise.

What exactly do these real estate scams look like? These criminals usually hack into a business’s emails, often a title company, and get all the pertinent information they need. They then steal and copy that company’s letterhead, and the email addresses, signature blocks and any other relevant information they will need to fool the homebuyer. The homebuyer then gets an email that appears to be from the title company, asking them to wire money, often tens or sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So, you’re probably wondering right now: What can I do? You want to know how to warn and protect your clients and keep your reputation intact (and avoid costly lawsuits). The following safeguarding tips can help keep cash out of cyberthieves’ hands:

1. Pick up the phone. If you’re closing on a home and receive an email with instructions on how to transfer money to your closing company or lender, take a few minutes to call your agent or broker to make sure it’s legit. Yes, this might be a bit annoying, but not as annoying as losing thousands of dollars in an email scam.

2. Be aware. These scammers usually send emails that look like the real thing. If you’re a homebuyer, look for weirdly timed emails (sent in the middle of the night) or spelling and punctuation errors. Is there a sense of urgency to the email?

3. Educate your clients. If you’re a real estate professional, make sure your clients know about this scheme. Not everyone is aware they could be a target (which is why it keeps happening). Set up a specific passcode for each client.

4. Consider using BuyerDocs and asking your title company to use this technology for all of their transactions.. What’s BuyerDocs, you ask? This tech startup provides secure document delivery for closing companies and homebuyers. The company says it has protected more than $5 billion in wire transfers in 2018 and works with big and small businesses across the country.

Scams will never be eradicated, but it is part of your job to know the current scams and how to protect transactions against shady folks.

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Homeownership

Are home renovations necessary, or has HGTV artificially adjusted our thinking?

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Home renovations are as American as apple pie — but how necessary are the *really*?

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Home renovations after a certain amount of time may seem like a no-brainer — but is doing so really necessary, or has a culture of constant change created an artificial need to evolve despite situational requirements?

Here’s a hint: it’s the second one.

Much like replacing your phone or laptop after a couple of years, renovating one’s home has become a time-stamped activity.

Unlike replacing your phone or laptop, renovations can be incredibly expensive, and — unless someone is flipping a house — they’re also inherently self-serving.

Unfortunately, due to countless house-flipping shows and successful alarmist marketing, it can be easy to begin to view your house’s appearance as a chore rather than a hobby or investment.

The reality of the situation is much simpler than it appears. Conditions under which you absolutely should renovate your home include circumstances involving things such as non-compliant materials (get rid of the asbestos, Gary), outdated or hazardous construction, a Realtor says it won’t sell without them, and other quality of life updates — not because five years have passed and your neighbor sighed at your outdated shiplap.

In other words: if your house is objectively okay, it doesn’t need “fixing.”

That isn’t to say that renovations are unintelligent; if you’re looking for a way to increase both your property value and your home’s livability, updating the décor is a sure way to do so.

Residents with specific design tastes and money to spare shouldn’t refrain from adjusting as wanted, but the bottom line is that your house — despite its invariable quirks — doesn’t need a face lift if you don’t actually want to do the lifting.

There are other alternatives to consider as well. If renovations are extensive, they can easily reach six figures for a small home. In many cases, simply selling the house you own and putting that money toward one which fits your needs may be a better option. Ask your local Realtor.

Unless you’re simply touching up a room’s paint color or installing smart home technology in your ‘60s ranch, renovations are expensive, time-intensive, and generally unnecessary. If you’re hesitantly considering renovating your home, focus instead on the positive – for now, your house is intact, functional, and enough for you.

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Homeownership

Researchers point to the government as source of California’s housing shortage

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) California is in the middle of a housing crisis with ongoing shortages. The Governor has a plan, but many have pointed to the government as the source of the problem with no end in sight.

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These days, California ranks #2 as the state with the highest cost of living in the United States, second only to Hawaii. The average home price in the The Golden State is over $1 million. Your monthly energy bill will be over $200.  And still, it’s one of the most desirable places to live. Small wonder that people flock to California, because the state ranks worst for doing business thanks to taxes and regulations.

It’s no secret that California has a housing shortage. It’s not even that the housing costs are sky-high. It’s that there simply aren’t enough homes to go around. Gov. Gavin Newsom says he plans to build 3.5 million new homes over the next few years to fix this crisis, but it may take much more to bring housing to the homeless and under-employed.

In a Los Angeles Times Op-Ed, James Broughel and Emily Hamilton suggest that California is overregulated when it comes to housing.

The average state has about 137,000 restrictions in its housing code. California has over 395,000.

Although many of the regulations are necessary to protect the environment and to ensure safety, it can contribute to higher construction costs, which it turn are passed on to consumers.

The California Code of Regulations contains over 21 million words. (Forbes estimates that the US tax code was about 4 million words in 2013). At a reading speed of 300 words per minute, for 40 hours a week, it would take 29 weeks or more to read the thing. And that doesn’t take into account comprehension, which requires a legal degree.

California’s housing shortage is a man-made problem that will take years to undo. One builder in Orange County planned a new community in Santa Clarita that would provide almost 22,000 homes.

The project has been stalled since 1994.

As the project ages, each home being constructed faces new regulations, increasing the cost of the home, making it near impossible for average families to obtain the American Dream.

It’s been suggested that California’s housing shortage is a political choice.

Bureaucrats are choosing to restrict housing by placing regulatory burdens on builders instead of helping the population find affordable housing to be more stable. Families are leaving California to find a more affordable cost of living and housing which will continue to hurt the state.

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