Voice Activated: Do You Talk to Your Tech?

How many of us are talking to our tech on a regular basis?

Ken Olmstead at the Pew Research Center recently highlighted the fact that nearly half of U.S. adults (46 percent) say they use voice-controlled assistants and applications to interact with smartphones and other devices.

Just over half (55 percent) say “a major reason” they use voice assistants is to permit hands-free interaction with devices.

The Pew study affirmed that voice assistant technology is being widely used to remotely control connected systems, including “smart home” lighting and heating devices. In fact, more than a quarter (26 percent) surveyed use voice assistants to connect remotely to those apps and devices.

So where are the newest voice control technologies being integrated in 2018?

Kohler, the global designer of kitchen and bath products, has introduced Konnect. This new platform allows consumers to conveniently personalize their experience with a growing number of the company’s products through voice control.

Claiming to have delivered the first voice-activated product line for the kitchen and bath, Konnect offers support through Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit.

Say the word and adjust the company’s lighted mirror, order up a soak with their voice-activated bathtub faucet, pick your spritz with their voice-command shower systems—and, yes, even apply a number of controls to the toilet!

Kristen Hicks at SeniorAdvisor.com says voice-activation improvements like these are helping countless homeowners age in place, by turning lights on and off, keeping grocery and to-do lists, reminding folks to take meds, changing interior temperature settings, using voice-activated technology to be sure doors are locked, and, most importantly, calling for help in an emergency. Hicks says while many home alert systems require reaching a phone or a button, a voice command can be issued without having to move.

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Common Home-Buying Mistakes People Make at Every Age

(TNS)—No matter the age or life stage, everyone makes mistakes when it comes to home-buying.

Whether it’s picking the wrong location or buying more house than you can afford, the mistakes are often universal, says Ilyce Glink, author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask.”

“When you’re in your 20s, your life isn’t the same as when you’re retired, and yet you’re both going to make timing mistakes,” Glink says. “You may make location mistakes. You may not think about what you need for every stage of your life, so you buy the wrong size home or make a bad money decision.”

Even so, certain age groups are more susceptible to particular missteps than others. Here are common mistakes homeowners make at each age, and a few ways to avoid them.

20s: Getting the Wrong Type of Mortgage
People in their 20s are just starting their careers and usually have less money saved than older homebuyers. For these folks, paying less for a mortgage is not just a priority, but a necessity.

This can be a bad thing if buyers get into an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) thinking they will earn more money down the road, says Michael Corbett, host of Extra’s “Mansions and Millionaires” and author of “Find It, Fix It, Flip It.”

“Younger buyers might get an adjustable-rate mortgage because the rate is really low; it’s like a teaser rate, and they think, ‘I’m going to get it because I’m improving in my job situation or I’ll pay off my student loan’—but if that doesn’t happen then, when interest rates go up in five to seven years, they’re going to see their mortgage rates double or even triple,” Corbett says.

If the rates on ARMs increase dramatically, there’s a chance the borrower will no longer be able to afford their mortgage payment, which could put the house in jeopardy. Before leaping into an ARM with just a dream of a house and a hope for a bigger paycheck, consider other cost-saving alternatives.

Along with popular programs like FHA loans and VA loans, there are other lesser-known initiatives geared to homebuyers on a fixed income. The HUD-sponsored Good Neighbor Next Door program, for example, offers home-buying assistance for law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teachers.

Along with federal money, there are also state-sponsored grants for first-time homebuyers, which you can typically find on your state’s website.

30s: Not Thinking About the Future
Homebuyers in their 30s blunder by not considering a future family when they’re standing in the middle of downtown condo with gorgeous views and access to a rooftop pool. While snagging the ultimate bachelor or bachelorette pad might seem alluring, it can also cost you money down the road, Corbett says.

“What happens is they end up having to sell—maybe not at an appropriate time—the bachelor pad and get into another house,” says Corbett. “Now they’re doing it under duress instead of planning ahead the first time, so there’s a lot of money lost there.”

If you plan on having a family, it’s important to consider that when you’re home shopping, even if you’re currently single. Glink says to ask yourself these questions before buying a home:

  • Who do I imagine living with in the future?
  • Where do I imagine living?
  • How do I imagine living?

Those answers should be an integral part of what you look for in a home. For example, if you think you might want kids or even a dog, you’ll probably want to choose a home with a backyard versus one near a great nightlife.

40s-50s: Overestimating Your Budget
In your 40s and 50s, you tend to have more money, which can lead to overestimating your budget and buying a house you can’t afford. One way to avoid this is to figure out your lifestyle comfort level, Glink says.

“Just because you can afford a $500,000 home doesn’t mean you should buy one,” says Glink. “If you’re married and both you and your spouse are working, figure out whether or not you can afford the mortgage payment if one of you gets laid off.”

Figuring out your budget is a critical step for buyers of all ages. Even experienced homebuyers can make the mistake of spending at their limit, which can mean making sacrifices that they weren’t prepared to make. Use Bankrate’s home affordability calculator to determine how much you should spend.

The takeaway for buyers in their 40s and 50s is to leave room in the budget for things they aren’t willing to give up—for example, private school for the kids.

60s and up: Falling in Love With That Vacation Home
Many homeowners in their 60s are retired or getting ready to retire. Among the many decisions retirees make is where to live. While some choose to stay where they are, many plan on moving to warmer climates, or even another country.

A costly mistake retirees make, Glink says, is going on vacation, falling in love with the place and moving immediately. Relocating and buying a home is an expensive process, so retirees should be sure they familiarize themselves with a new place before buying.

“Too many retirees make the mistake of going on vacation, and they think, ‘Oh my god, this is great,’ and they go home immediately and they sell their house,” says Glink. “They get there and they hate it. They didn’t spend enough time there.”

Before buying a new house in your vacation paradise, be sure to visit the area in every climate. For example, Florida is great in the winter, but many people might not be comfortable in the humid summer months. The same goes for Northern areas—what’s blissful in one season can be awful in another.

©2018 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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$210,000 :: 1488 SADDLE Lane, Rochester Hills MI, 48306

Property Photo

3 beds, 2.1 baths
Home size: 1,280 sq ft
Lot Size: 0 sq ft
Added: 05/13/18, Last Updated: 05/13/18
Property Type: Condo/Townhouse/Co-Op
MLS Number: 218041424
Community: Rochester Hills
Tract: KING’S COVE CONDO
Status: Active

Popular Kings Cove Condo Community. This unit offers Hardwood floors throughout the first floor, Large spacious eat in kitchen with bay window , maple cabinets, stainless appliances and newer sliding door to re-done private brick paver patio, large open great room for entertaining, first floor powder room with pedestal sink. The second floor offers 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths. The spacious master bedroom offers it’s own private bath. Other amenities include newer light fixtures , carpet, end unit and garage. Association fee includes gas and water. Kings Cover offers tennis, swimming and easy access to the Paint Creek Trail and just minutes to downtown Rochester!

Listed with Coldwell Banker Weir Manuel-Roch


Brought to you by Janet Hull and Thomas Bush, Real Estate One, Inc.. Call me today at 1-855-Janet-Tom, or visit my website at www.JanetandThomas.com!


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$1,625,000 :: 4676 WIND RIDGE CRT, Rochester MI, 48306-1646

Property Photo

5 beds, 8 baths
Home size: 6,130 sq ft
Lot Size: 44,431 sq ft
Added: 05/12/18, Last Updated: 05/12/18
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 21447086
Community: Oakland Twp (63101)
Tract: GOODISON PLACE SUB NO 4
Status: Active

Expect total perfection from this Vito Anthony Signature Home in Goodison Place on 1 acre. This two story Home w/ porte-cochere&stunning treed lot w/ small creek features 6,130 sq ft, 5 bedrooms, 6.2 baths & finished walk-out to private yard! Exceptional details in every room: Grabill Kitchen w/ high-end S/S appliances & Hearth Room w/FP, 2 Story GR that leads to the cozy Sun Room w/walls of windows, Library w/detailed Mill Work, Step up Master Retreat w/2 closets & spa bath with basket-weave marble flooring & white Carrera Walls and Counters, 4 additional Suites and a Home Gym top off the 2nd floor. Wait, there is more! Walk out features bar, $100,000 wine cellar w/ plenty of seating for guests & parties (wine comes w/ the house!), Family Room & Theatre Room (all equipment and chairs stay). Trex Terrace, walkout brick-paver Patio&so much more, this is an extraordinary estate which could never be duplicated for this price! Award winning Rochester Schools, Welcome Home!

Listed with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices HWWB


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$559,900 :: 933 PEACH BLOSSOM CRT, Rochester Hills MI, 48306-3346

4 beds, 4 baths
Home size: 2,804 sq ft
Lot Size: 67,082 sq ft
Added: 05/11/18, Last Updated: 05/11/18
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 21446684
Community: Rochester Hills (63151)
Tract: KNORRWOOD HILLS NO 3
Status: Active

A Nature Lovers Paradise! Situated on a cul-de-sac lot boasting 1.54 acres of perennial gardens and a private lake and fire pit. Enjoy peaceful views of the lake from the deck or enjoy activities of swimming, canoes, kayaks, and row boats. A truly charming residence that is move-in ready. This one of a kind custom home is freshly painted, has marble floors in the foyer and hardwood throughout the first floor. Living room and dining room have built-in cabinetry. Updated kitchen with granite counters and stainless steel appliances. Wonderful 4-seasons sunroom with skylights located off kitchen. Master suite is an owner?s retreat with sitting area overlooking the lake, cozy fireplace and fully updated bath. Incredible walk out has Great Room with built ins and fireplace, full bath, office and plenty of storage plus a cedar closet. Whole house generator. 2 Story ceder out building with deck. Location and lot must be seen to appreciate it!

Listed with Hall & Hunter-Birmingham


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How the On-Demand Consumer Has Changed the Real Estate Industry

Over the last decade, homebuyers have become more tech-savvy, beginning with a simple shift of traditional in-store shopping and REALTOR® office visits to Cyber Monday shopping and searching for house listings online. As the real estate industry continues to grow, consumers have come to adopt, and expect, a self-sufficient, on-demand technology experience, where they have control over the process.

For the Buyer
Having absolute transparency to browsing house listings online has done numerous things for the real estate consumer, including increasing their overall knowledge and convenience, and making it a much more simpler process to buy a home. Consumers can educate themselves on real estate trends and changes in the industry. Rather than waiting on a third party, or real estate agent, to send them a list of houses, the consumer has the freedom to browse online from the comfort of their home.

Outside of the online experience, companies such as OfferPad allow buyers to browse their homes on their own and during their own timeframe. If interested in touring a home, the customer can simply send a text message and instantly gain access to the home. There is no need for an agent to be on-site, and the pressure is removed from the buyer. If the customer is interested in making a purchase offer, they are free to directly work with OfferPad.

For the Seller
Very similar to a buyer, a homeowner selling their home has more transparency into the market, as well. They have a better insight to what the buyer may be looking for, and possibly an inkling of what they think their home may be worth. Those who have sold a house before through the traditional process know that it can be a long and stressful event. Everything from determining what renovations need to be done to the home, keeping it clutter-free for when strangers want to tour it, worrying about how long the home may be on the market, and expenses that come along with each day, then hoping the right buyer doesn’t fall through…the process can be time-consuming.

Recent real estate industry changes have welcomed technology and alternate ways to buy and sell a house. Emerging companies like OfferPad offer a new way for people to move freely. Those who are looking for a more seamless way to sell their home that offers certainty, and removes much of the pain points, are selecting companies to directly buy their home.

With nearly every industry making great strides to support the on-demand consumer, real estate will need to evolve, and continue bringing innovative ideas and solutions to the homebuyer and seller. For those interested in using OfferPad as a different, hassle-free way to move freely, visit offerpad.com, and type in your address and property information. The company will contact you within 24 hours to provide an offer.

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$519,900 :: 77 LONDONDERRY LN, Rochester MI, 48306-4671

4 beds, 4 baths
Home size: 3,352 sq ft
Lot Size: 19,602 sq ft
Added: 05/09/18, Last Updated: 05/09/18
Property Type: Single Family
MLS Number: 21445465
Community: Oakland Twp (63101)
Tract: OAKLAND KNOLLS SUB
Status: Active

Welcome home!! Oakland twp executive colonial with custom updates! 2-story foyer with private study and formal living room. Gourmet eat in kitchen with custom island looking into the the large 2-story great room! Tons of light!! no rear neighbors!! backing into 7 acre nature preserve! 4 large bedrooms master suite with tray ceiling his and hers walk in closets luxurious master bath with soaking tub! Jack n jill bath and the other bedroom has a full bath. Huge daylight basement prepped for bath 3-car side entry garage 800 sq.ft. composite deck with hot tub overlooking the 7 acre nature preserve and pond New roof 2013 a/c 2012 Baldwin Elementary, Hart Middle, and Stoney Creek High school. Agent is owner.

Listed with Colburn McDonald Asoc, REALTOR~


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How to Plan Your Next Trip Around a ‘Walkcation’

(TNS)—On my latest trip to Chicago, I consumed nine tacos, three doughnuts, an Indian crepe, a giant tamale, a mound of carnitas, a bowl of pasta and a table full of Vietnamese food. How did I not gain 15 pounds? Well, I also walked eight to 10 miles per day, which is typical for me when I travel.

Exploring a city on foot has so many benefits. I stumble on unique gems that I likely wouldn’t find otherwise. I hear neighbors talk to each other. I suddenly feel like a local, which, in my opinion, is the best thing to feel when you visit a place. As a bonus, you can eat more.

Here are a few tips for planning your next “walkcation”:

Pick your highlights and pin them. First, figure out what you most want to do or see, and then plot your findings. The Google Maps app allows users to custom-label any address or landmark with names and little flags that pop up when you look at the map as a whole. This way, you’ll easily see which of your favorites are within walking distance of each other.

Think neighborhoods. Consider using your highlights as jumping-off points for neighborhood crawls. Research the borders of a neighborhood, map out the main streets and hit the pavement. Walking is the best way to get a sense of an area’s character and what it has to offer. Stop at anything you find interesting.

Do the distance. Checking out a park? Walk its circumference before leaving. A museum? Take the stairs between levels. Want to lounge on the beach? Walk a mile on it first.

Track your progress. Pedometer apps are easy to find by searching the phrase in your smartphone’s app store. Watching the miles tick upward is motivating.

Dress in a versatile style. With all this walking, you’ll need the same outfit to span breakfast, lunch and dinner—and don’t forget to wear a good pair of walking shoes.

©2018 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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$195,000 :: 1139 PINE RIDGE CRT, Rochester Hills MI, 48306-4244

Property Photo

2 beds, 2 baths
Home size: 1,152 sq ft
Lot Size: 0 sq ft
Added: 03/22/18, Last Updated: 05/07/18
Property Type: Condo/Townhouse/Co-Op
MLS Number: 21425816
Community: Rochester Hills (63151)
Tract: KING’S COVE CONDO
Status: Sold

DESIRABLE location ?ON GOLDEN POND? offers OUTSTANDING VIEWS & Steps from the PAINT CREEK TRAIL, Pool, Tennis courts and Club House! Classic Updated D~cor w/Crown Moldings, Recessed Lights, Gas Fireplace & Wood Bannister-Kitchen offers WHITE Cabinets w/Lazy Susan, STAINLESS Appliances & Doorwall to SPACIOUS DECK for added Living and Entertaining area! Master Bedroom has Walk-In Closet, Ceiling Fan and Crown Molding, Bedroom #2 offers a Ceiling Fan & Walk-In Closet w/Organizers ?Large Bath features LaFata Cabinets, Jetted Tub, Recessed Lights & Crown Molding! Fin LL apx 300 sq ft perfect for Home Office & room w/Lots of Storage perfect for Craft/Hobby Rm. HOA incl: WATER, Trash/Recycle, Snow/Lawn. Walk, Bicycle or Jog on the Paint Creek Trail into DOWNTOWN Rochester! Enjoy the City Park, Lib, Restaurants, Shopping, Farmer?s Market & more! Rochester Schools! BATVAD

Listed with Real Estate One-Rochester


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Real Estate Q&A: How Can I Make My Community’s Board Listen to My Ideas?

(TNS)—Q: I live in a beautiful community that is well maintained by the board and its various committees. All is great, except for the roads—they are ugly with oil marks and patched areas. I have asked after this, but it does not seem to be a priority of the board of directors. How do I get the board to address this issue? – Philip

A: Most people who want to get their board’s attention try to bring up a new issue at the public board meeting. This is not a good idea and will most likely not work.

A board meeting is a business meeting and should be run from an agenda of items known to all in advance so that the members and directors have ample time to research and consider the issues to be dealt with during that meeting. The common tactic of trying to embarrass or ambush the board at the meeting almost always backfires. Simply, the board meeting is not the time to introduce a new issue.

The better method is to send your board a letter outlining your concern. Try to be detailed and propose solutions. Explain why you think it is an essential use of the community’s resources, bearing in mind that other residents may have differing priorities. Send the letter by certified mail to ensure it gets the attention it deserves.

If it still does not make the agenda, try again, or, even better, get some neighbors to write in, too. Many voices will hold more sway than just one.

Finally, if, after all of these efforts, the existing board does not share your priorities for the community, you should consider running for the board at the next election. When you are a board member, you are able to help set the agenda and get your ideas pushed through—at least, that is, if enough of your neighbors agree with you.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar.

©2018 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
Visit Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at
www.sun-sentinel.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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