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Planwise Connect remembers homebuyer financial data, follows you across all search sites

Planwise Connect ambitiously seeks to help consumers make better financial decisions, possibly staving off another housing crash. Check it out.

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Just three weeks out of the hopper, Planwise Connect is forging new territory, as the first and only financial tool that remembers you across sites, and they do this by gathering a consumer’s data in a browser extension. The truth is that homebuyers often get their heart set on a home that isn’t realistic for them, even if it’s close, because the financial parameters being used are based on only a portion of costs it takes to close the deal.

Planwise Connect differs from other financial tools several ways:

  • Consumers set their information once, and those settings follow them to Zillow, realtor.com, and so forth, even if they’re not registered on the search sites.
  • Mortgage calculators typically focus on PITI or monthly mortgage amount, which is barely half of the costs that should be considered. Planwise Connect considers HOA fees, property taxes, property expenses (like rental income or tax benefits).
  • Planwise Connect walks users through their complete current financial situation on a month-to-month basis, including debts, empowering consumers to shop based on their actual financial situation rather than meaningless snippets of teaser information they’re used to using.

The goal is to help homebuyers narrow their search to homes they can actually afford. Further, it helps organize the home search, as the Planwise Connect “heart” button pulls in listings from any site and organizes them into a Pinterest-style board that is shareable. Awesome.

Real estate professionals should be pointing their potential clients to this tool as a means of staying engaged with earned leads rather than generate them. It could help clean up the process tremendously and save everyone a lot of time (thus, money).

Planwise seeks to protect consumers

Planwise CEO, Vincent Turner tells us that the finance decision tool is in response to his previous tech startup which is now used by almost every bank to figure out how to make more money, and make it faster (we’re glossing over the details, but seek to convey how widely adopted the tool is).

But the banks aren’t consumers, and that’s where Turner’s passion is. He left Australia in 2010 and arrived in the U.S. in one of the peak years for foreclosures, driving home his desire to help, as so many of us bought homes we couldn’t afford. “Who’s helping the buyer?” he asked of the industry in regards to consumer finance.

“The people that need help the most can’t afford a financial adviser, and the CFPB [Consumer Finance Protection Bureau] regulates and educates, but consumers need direct help,” Turner opined. This was the nexus of Planwise Connect, focusing on these consumers. Turner seeks to do his part in helping fend off a future housing crash, dreaming of a world where consumers really understand the purchase they’re making. Ambitious.

So what does the future of Planwise Connect hold?

Turner says the feedback has been positive so far, and shares with us the company’s plans for the near future:

  • They’ll open up the tool to lenders as it already gathers most of the pre-qualification questions every lender asks; a logical next step. The integration will offer real time pricing quotes, but not in the standard pay-to-play format where only advertisers’ rates are shown.
  • Favorites will become a map view to group listings so they can be shared with an agent or spouse for improved collaboration.

The company is tenacious, already experienced and respected in the field, and we’ll be watching their growth and expansion as they add features and hopefully, go mainstream.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The Real Daily and sister news outlet, The American Genius, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Real Estate Technology

1 in 3 houses are already smart homes – do you know your obligations when marketing one?

Realtors may market a home as smart homes, so do you know what qualifies and what disclosures are required?

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Did you know that a third of all homes in America currently meet the requirement to be called a “smart home,” and that is expected to rise to 54% in less than 24 months? What are you doing to properly market your listings accordingly? How are you studying the trend to make sure people that need accessibility features of smart homes are accommodated?

This was the very topic at hand at a lively panel at the 2021 REALTORS® Conference & Expo led by Craig Grant, CEO of The Real Estate Technology Institute & RETI.us and Brandon Doyle, a Maple Grove, Minnesota Realtor and host of “Home Tech Decisions” on YouTube. The overarching theme of the discussion was the benefits of smart homes to the real estate business.

Grant notes that it doesn’t take large investments to make a house a smart home. “Just having a few devices in specific categories, such as certain lighting, security cameras, or appliances, qualifies a home to be a smart home,” he notes.

To call a home “smart,” it must have a reliable internet connection and smart items in at least three categories, and may then be marketed as such.

“These homes were once only for the ultra rich, but we’ve gone from only super-wealthy people like Bill Gates having these products to every home now having at least one or two smart items,” said Doyle, who jokes that companies like Amazon basically give away these devices as a “gateway drug” to other connected devices.

The two presented data revealing that 26% of Baby Boomers currently have smart home technologies in their homes, 49% of Generation Xers, and 77% of Millennials.

This data implies that rapid increase you should expect in the market, as consumers increasingly own smart home features, but will also expect them as part of a listing.

The panelists note that it is not just novelty that consumers seek, but ease of use and accessibility, thus the popularity of products like lighting systems, carbon monoxide detectors, and digital thermostats.

“Smart home technology can now be used by seniors and those with disabilities to assist them in day-to-day activities,” noted Grant. He adds that real estate professionals play a role in being able to educate senior buyers and their families of how smart homes can aide their lives. He illustrates with the examples of smart home devices that detect falls, voice-activated features like curtains, and aides that help the visually impaired and hearing impaired.

The panelists acknowledged the risks associated with smart homes (like the vulnerability of not changing passswords from the default or when moving away, and the listening features of smart devices), but ultimately conclude that settings can often disable these features, and that the rewards outweigh the risk.

They also asserted that Realtors have an obligation to know all rules and requirements regarding selling a smart home, such as explaining what devices are included in the close of a property, and disclosing any hazards, as well as adhering to all privacy laws.

Although not woven into the panel, the National Association of Realtors (host of the annual conference) does offer an inexpensive, 12 credit hour certification course, “Smart Home Certification” which could be the shorcut to understanding your obligations when selling or marketing a smart home.

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Real Estate Technology

AI can now spot fake landlords and rental scams

(REAL ESTATE TECHNOLOGY) False rental listings have risen so Scamlord.ai is helping renters by offering education and guidance on how to avoid becoming a target of rental fraud.

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Even with a global pandemic going on, some US renters still need to find a new place to live. The world keeps spinning and people are having to find ways to adapt. Unfortunately, as more people are turning to fully online resources to find their next property, it can be harder for some to tell fact from fiction. That is where Scamlord.ai steps in.

Online scammers are in full effect creating fake landlords and rental listings to lure people into fraudulent deals. Scamlord.ai is a new, AI-driven tool that helps people stay away from potential rental fraud.

Scamlord.ai was created by Onerent, a small-residential rental manager on the West Coast. This new tool is designed to help renters avoid losing money and personal information to rental scams. According to the Scamlord.ai website, the tool was created by gathering thousands of fraudulent rental listings over the past several years and feeding them into a machine learning model. When renters input listing information, the AI uses that to track patterns in the contact information which allows it to tell if the listing is actually a scam.

Rental fraud has become a huge problem in the U.S. market with over 5 million U.S. renters reporting losing money to rental scams. Scamlord.ai creators hope that their tool can help more renters avoid this type of heartbreak.

We want to educate renters of the dangers of rental scams and save the money, risk, and fear of rental fraud. Any details we verify as scam will help us build a database of scammers,” said Rico Mok, co-founder of Onerent.

Scamlord.ai has a simple interface. All users need to do is input the listing phone number, email address, owner name, URL, and property address of a potential rental property and the AI will be able to tell if this is a legitimate listing.

The website also includes some helpful information for renters on how to spot a potential rental scam and what to do if they come across a fraudulent listing. Some of the warning signs include:

  • Rental listings being priced at a huge discount compared to similar homes in the area
  • Communicating with strange and sporadic emails
  • Requesting money upfront via wire transfer or prepaid debit card

Scamlord.ai is helping renters navigate a frequently changing world by offering education and guidance on how to avoid becoming a target of rental fraud.

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Real Estate Technology

This is the BEST professional profile picture creator on the planet

(TECH NEWS) This new profile picture tool helps amp up your social media presence with beautiful and free tools to enhance any photo.

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Profile Picture Maker is a service that allows you to quickly create beautiful profile pictures.

With every pun intended, your profile picture is the face of your online presence. While there are different “rules” for different platforms (e.g. it’s socially acceptable to have a picture of you and your significant other as your Facebook profile pic, whereas that wouldn’t fly on LinkedIn).

Many avid social media users are working in an effort to brand themselves (blue check, please!) So, it’s important to put your best foot – or in this case, face – forward.

Profile Pic Maker is here to help you brand. And, before you judge the name as something that sounds akin to the days of MySpace, it’s simplicity (in name and execution) is actually quite cool.

It lets you upload any photo of you (or your pet) and creates profile pics that are useful across Facebook, Google, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and so on. You can then start editing the photo to your liking.

The tool boasts a photo background remover, creative photo filters, and the likelihood of getting more likes on your photo. With the photo background remover, you can remove the background from your photo completely automatically and precisely.

With creative photo filters, apply creative studio-grade filters to create aesthetically pleasing profile pics. And with all of this, your photos will gain more interest.

Here’s how it works: You upload a photo, the background is automatically removed, then you review dozens of professionally generated profile pics (including backgrounds with solid colors and gradients). Best of all, it’s free.

I tried it – it took all of 15 seconds and I was enamored with the outcome. The options were astoundingly cool and I’ll likely be spending the rest of my day deciding what picture to use. It does have a few kinks (my face was distorted on a few options) but there’s plenty of perfect ones to pick from.

Profile Pic Maker test images by author Taylor Leddin

According to PFP’s website, “Profiles with a profile photo receive 14 times more views than those without a profile photo. Moreover, with a professional profile photo you are 36 times more likely to receive a message.”

I’ve yet to upload these to my personal pages, but I can attest to the above statement and the overall concept being useful. For my dog’s Instagram page (yes, I’m one of those people), I cropped just his face from a photo and put it against a colorful background to make it look more “professional” and the page has gotten a lot more interaction since then.

What do you think? Do fun and colorful backgrounds draw your eye more than a regular old photo?

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