Sept. 26, 2019

Video Doorbells and Privacy: Maintaining a Balance

Video Doorbell Blog

 

Advancing technology has played a large part in improving home security in recent years. This is due, in part, to the rising popularity of the Internet of Things, or IoT; these “Things” are devices that connect via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or other wireless networks to perform various functions without the need to be hard-wired or attached to a computer. Security-focused IoT devices include things like window monitors, smart door locks and video doorbells – even security lighting.

While these devices provide a number of benefits, including remote monitoring and automation features, some have their drawbacks, as well. Video doorbells, in particular, are being called out over potential privacy concerns. If you’ve been thinking of getting a video doorbell, here are a few things that you should consider, to ensure a good balance between your home security and your neighbors’ privacy.

How to Video Doorbells Work?

Video doorbells use motion detectors to sense when there is someone around the area where the doorbell is installed. This activates the camera, even before the doorbell itself is rung. The process is automatic; many mistakenly believe that the video feed from the devices have to be activated through interaction with the doorbell, but that isn’t the case. Depending on the model and how it’s being used, the visitor who activated the doorbell is either recorded or the video stream is sent live to an associated app. In some cases, video is both streamed and recorded for later review.

What Privacy Concerns Exist?

One of the big privacy concerns comes from what some users are doing with the video recorded by their doorbells. While the recordings are intended for security purposes, some owners choose to upload the videos (or still images from those videos) to websites where others can see exactly who has been visiting their house. Typically, this is done with the purpose of mocking the visitors without their knowledge or consent. In some cases, they may not even realize that they’re being recorded.

Even without sharing the videos, some video doorbells record a large enough area that they also record portions of neighbors’ properties when activated. This creates a similar concern to the installation of standard security cameras that might target a neighbor’s property. This could cause significant privacy problems if too much of the neighbor’s property is visible and may even open the owner up to action based on the claim that they are recording what the neighbor is doing.

On top of this, some video doorbell owners are also becoming increasingly nervous about their devices as the video doorbell manufacturer Ring has partnered with law enforcement agencies in some areas. While the police do not have unrestricted access to video feeds, they can send out messages requesting images or footage from doorbell owners in the area where a crime was committed. Though the request is voluntary, it has still led to unease among users who don’t want their devices used for neighborhood surveillance purposes.

Privacy-Related Restrictions

As a result of these concerns, some homeowners’ associations and local ordinances have targeted video doorbells. In some cases, they aren’t allowed at all, while in others, only certain brands can be installed, which are known to have a narrow focus. A failure to abide by these restrictions can lead to tickets, action by the homeowners’ association and in some cases, even legal action or eviction.

Finding a Balance

Finding a balance between home security and the privacy rights of your neighbors isn’t always easy. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for compromise, however. There are professionals who can help you find the right video doorbell to meet your needs without sacrificing your neighbor’s rights to stay private. Sign up for a free HomeKeepr account so we can match you with a security-minded pro who can help you find the perfect device to achieve that privacy/security balance.

July 8, 2019

Invest in Your Renters by Screening Them Well: Top Questions to Ask

Invest in Your Renters by Screening Them Well: Top Questions to Ask

If you own a rental property, you know how important it is to have the right tenant. Good renters will take care of the property as though it were their own, leaving it as close to how they moved in as possible. Bad renters, on the other hand, make it obvious that they don’t care, since it’s not actually their house; it can take a significant amount of time and money to get your property back to rentable condition after they move out. Wouldn’t it be great if you could only rent to the first group and avoid the second group entirely?

While you may still occasionally get a bad tenant, with a bit of smart screening you can greatly increase your chances of finding good renters every time. This goes beyond the standard screening techniques like a credit check; it’s all about the questions you ask before making your decision. Here are a few of the best questions to ask potential renters to see if they’re the ones you really want to rent to.

 

Why Are You Moving?

This is a great question to start with because it gives you an idea of what motivates potential renters. Ideally, you’ll find someone who’s moving for a reason such as work relocation, trying to find a bigger house for their family or trying to find a better neighborhood or school system for their children. Watch out for people who complain about their current landlord or who seem to be trying to escape a negative situation.

 

Would Your Current Landlord Provide a Reference?

Talking to a current landlord gives you two important pieces of information: It lets you find out what sort of a tenant the potential renter is, and also tells you that they have been upfront with their landlord about the fact that they’re moving. Someone who wants to keep you from talking to their landlord may have something to hide.

 

Have You Ever Broken a Lease?

There are legitimate reasons to break a lease. Reasons such as work relocation and having to move because of unexpected family circumstances shouldn’t weigh against a potential tenant, and asking this up front gives them a chance to open up about any broken leases in their past. If they try to cover it up or cite reasons such as landlord conflicts or problems paying rent, though, then this could be a big red flag.

 

How Long Have You Been with Your Employer? How About the One Before That?

This is perhaps even more important than how long they’ve lived in their current home. A long period of employment shows job stability and being a new hire after working for a long period can show ambition and a desire to get ahead. On the flip side, people who have trouble maintaining a job for longer periods could have trouble paying the rent.

 

Who Will Live on the Property? Will There Be Any Pets?

When asking these questions, be sure not to lead the answer by saying things like “This property is intended for two people” beforehand. Give potential tenants a chance to answer to help ensure that they do so honestly. If the answer violates a no-pets policy or sounds excessive for the property, you can reveal this afterward to let them know that they’re not right for your property.

 

Will There Be Any Smokers on the Property?

An increasing number of rental units are going no smoking, in part because of the difficulty associated with getting smoke stains and smells out of curtains and carpet. While it’s up to you to decide on your smoking policy, if you don’t want smoking in the house then make sure that potential renters know that up front.

 

Will You Consent to a Background Check/Credit Check?

Not all landlords use credit and background checks, but it’s always a good idea to ask if potential renters will consent to one. If they have credit history issues or legal problems in their past, it gives them a chance to be upfront about it and provide you with the information you need to make a decision. If they don’t justify why they don’t want the info checked, it may also hint at problems they’re trying to hide.

 

Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

Giving potential renters a chance to ask you questions helps you make sure that they know everything they want to know about your property and your policies. If they don’t ask questions, consider how attentive they were during previous questions when you make your decision. If they were just trying to get through the interview process without paying attention, they may not be the renter for you.

 

Get Rental Screening Guidance from a Pro

If you’re still worried about who you might rent to, consult with one of the professional property managers on HomeKeepr. Our referral system can help you find a trustworthy property manager, vouched for by people you know. They can help you find the right tenant and bring their years of experience to your property as well.

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July 3, 2019

3 Great Neighborhoods Near Seminole Hard Rock

3 Great Neighborhoods Near Seminole Hard Rock

If you have been watching this Casino get built over time, you have no doubt seen that there are over 1000 new jobs coming to Hollywood.   If you are relocating here or moving in you may no doubt be looking to live close to the casino.  Here are our Top 3 Best value neighborhoods near the Hard Rock. 

July 3, 2019

Best Home in Boulevard Heights

Check out ehat this amazing home in This beautiful ranch style home is truly remarkable inside and out. Features include, bamboo flooring through out, hardwood cabinets in the kitchen with travertine tile back splash, granite countertops, stainless steele appliances; Gas Stove, porcelain tile floors, granite counter tops. Crown molding. Impact windows provide plenty of natural lighting. All Impact doors, new A/C & water heater; (tankless). Bedrooms have large closets. Gorgeous remodeled bathrooms with travertine tiles, granite counter tops. crown moldings in Living room, dining & bathrooms A plus the florida room which leads to the fenced in private backyard with a pergola and it’s stunning landscaping. This is a wonderful neighborhood with great schools. No HOA.Come and take a look at this beauty....Don't miss out!”

Posted in Community
June 29, 2019

1001 SW 7th Avenue

Posted in Market Updates
June 19, 2019

Best FHA Loans of 2019 According to US News and World Reports

 For most Americans, the purchase of a home is possible with a mortgage. However, saving the traditional 20% down payment is an unattainable goal for some would-be buyers.

Enter the Federal Housing Administration, or FHA, loan program, which has helped Americans buy homes since the Great Depression and remains a popular choice because of its affordability. FHA loans allow for smaller down payments while resolving some of the underwriting challenges borrowers face. The FHA insures these mortgages, which are issued by FHA-approved lenders. With a government guarantee, a lender can offer more flexibility with underwriting requirements, including credit guidelines and down payments.

This guide explains the FHA loan process and offers recommendations for lenders that can meet your home-buying needs.

Best FHA Loans of 2019

No single FHA lender is perfect for every borrower. U.S. News recommends these lenders for their overall performance in product offerings, eligibility requirements and customer satisfaction. These FHA lenders sell directly to the consumer and lend nationwide, and recommendations are meant to aid your research by showing companies that are most likely to meet your needs.

Best Lender for Customer Satisfaction

Fairway Independent logo

Fairway Independent

Fairway Independent Mortgage was established more than 20 years ago and has funded more than $50 billion in loans. The lender has excellent customer satisfaction ratings and offers most mortgage products, including USDA loans.

Highlights:

  • Mortgage types offered: Conventional, jumbo, ARM, VA FHA, USDA refinance
  • Minimum FICO credit score: 580 (FHA), other loans vary
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 43%
  • J.D. Power satisfaction rating: Five out of five
Jan. 1, 2019

#Phlorida Things: 188th Annual Mummers Parade

Posted in Video
Dec. 26, 2018

How to Find the Perfect Neighborhood

By David Hakimi

RISMEDIA, Wednesday, December 26, 2018—  Location, location, location. Half of buying a home is all about finding where you want to live. You might've found your dream house, but it's not in your dream neighborhood.

 

So, what should you be watching out for? Here's how you can find the perfect neighborhood:

 

Check It Out Online

Ah—the internet. It provides an immense amount of information. It's easy and entirely accessible for everyone, so you don't have any excuses not to take advantage of it. Look up what everyone is saying about a neighborhood you're interested in. Do people actually enjoy living there? What do they like and dislike about it?

 

Google the crime statistics for the area; safety should be top of mind. You don't want to get stuck in a neighborhood with a high break-in rate—take your safety and security seriously. At the same time, if you have kids, look up schools in the area. What are they rated? Most school systems have a rating scale based off mostly academics. Find out if they're good options for your children.

 

Scout It Out

Literally. Do drive-bys, and do them at different times of the day. Get a feel for a certain neighborhood. Is there a soccer field or baseball diamond close by? You'll want to know before it's too late whether or not cars will be lined up on your street. Make sure you're in the know. You don't want things like that to come up as a surprise after you've moved in. Furthermore, check out the traffic patterns in the area. What's that intersection near the home you're interested in really like during rush hour?

 

How Far Is Your Potential Home From Your Job?

This might not matter to some—if you're near retirement, it might not matter at all!—but a long commute has the potential to become an everyday stressor, one that you don't need or want. If you take the bus, look up the route and times. If you drive, check out the route during your normal commute times on Google Maps.

 

Do Your Research on Property Taxes

This could majorly impact your cost of living. Property taxes greatly differ from one region to the next. Do your research and find out what to expect. Don't let this come as a shock. You want to make sure you can afford the area you want to live in. Be sure to do your due diligence with some good research! Also, take this a step further, and look at other costs of living—think utilities and food prices.

 

Ensure your perfect home is in your ideal neighborhood. It's worth taking the time to do research and be sure it's really what you want.

 

This appeared first on RISMedia's Housecall.

 RISMedia welcomes your questions and comments. Send your e-mail to: realestatemagazinefeedback@rismedia.com.

 

 

Copyright© 2018 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be republished without permission.

Dec. 20, 2018

Why Millennials Choose to Buy

 

Why Millennials Choose to Buy

According to NerdWallet’s Millennials & Homebuying Study, the top 5 reasons young renters

choose to own are:

1. To Have Control over Their Living Space - 93%

Many millennials who rent a home or apartment prior to buying

their own homes, dream of the day that they will be able to paint

the walls whatever color they'd like, or renovate an outdated part

of their living space.

Many others who have waited to add a pet to their families

daydream about the day that they’ll be able to go pick out their

‘furever’ friend. Owning your own home gives you the freedom to

make those choices.

2. To Have a Sense of Privacy & Security - 90%

It is no surprise that having a place to call home, with all that

means, in comfort and security, is the #2 reason. As a homeowner,

you have control over who has access to your home, and you are

able to secure it how you see fit.

 

3. To Live in a Nicer Home - 81%

Similar to the #1 reason, when you purchase a home, you can

choose to live in a nicer home or choose to renovate a home &

restore its glory. Owning also allows you to accommodate your

growing family or a family member who may need to move in.

 

4. To Feel Engaged in Their Community - 75%

Owning a home in a community is one of the major reasons why

residents become more civically involved. The stakes are raised

once your home value is directly tied to the neighborhood and

community in which you live.

 

5. To Have Flexibility in Future Decisions - 53%

As we mentioned earlier, owning a home allows you to use your

monthly housing cost as a savings account that can be borrowed

against in the future. Having this option available during

uncertain times is just one of many reasons why homeowners feel

more secure in their homes.

 

“The majority of millennials said they consider owning a home more sensible than

renting for both financial and lifestyle reasons — including control of living space,

flexibility in future decisions, privacy and security, and living in a nice home.”

NAR’s Generational Study found that 86% of millennials believe homeownership is a good financial

investment, with 45% believing it is a better investment than the stock market.

Nov. 12, 2018

Drexel University Thanks It's Student Veteran Population.

Honored to have come from University that has provided so many opportunities to area Veterans.

Here are a few data points relating to today's US Student Veteran Population.

73%-80% of Student Veterans are male; 21-27% are female.

Only 10-14% of military personnel being women, female Student Veterans are over-represented in postsecondary education.

Only 15% of Student Veterans are traditionally aged college students.

Most Student Veterans are between the ages of 24 and 40.

47% of Student Veterans have children. 47.3% of Student Veterans are married. 62% of Student Veterans are first-generation students.

Read more on VA.gov Student Veteran Factsheet