Goat for Vijay!

Vijayashanthi, otherwise known to us as Vijay, is our sponsor child with Compassion International. She lives in Sri Lanka and will be 13 in April.

This Thanksgiving, my wife and I want to give a gift that makes an impact for children in poverty. We already sponsor this child, but we want to bless Vijay and her family with the gift of a goat. Yep, a GOAT!

A gift of goats means a family can have milk, which they can both consume and sell to earn money for other necessities. By providing a gift of a live goat we want to help this family become more self-sufficient, which leads to healthier children. Vijay’s family can then raise more goats, increasing the size of their herd, and sell the additional goats and goat’s milk to generate income.

Did you know one goat can provide 1,800 pounds of milk a year? That’s more than 11 tons of milk in its lifetime.

Read more about how to donate a goat!

A recent letter from Vijay:


The Smart Home

This month, I will close on a home sale with a Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ Home Design. Candidly, while showing this home to my buyer client, I was caught a little off guard. This certification was unknown to me. As with any other unfamiliar topic, I decided that I needed to dig in and learn more.

One thing is clear, the smart home revolution is here, and today’s consumers are demanding that realtors be the authority in all things “home” which now includes smart home technology.

Smart home technology is more than just a buzzword. With our lives increasingly transformed by technology,  everything from our light bulbs to our thermostat is becoming connected. For consumers, this means that almost every new product boasts some kind of smart technology that promises to make our lives faster, simpler, and better with home automation.

Why all the frenzy?

The motivation to move toward smart home automation converges around four main themes: savings, safety, convenience, and control.

The perceived benefit of boosted home value is lower on the list but increasing rapidly. As recently as 5 years ago perceived boost in home value through home automation was not even on the scale. It is predicted that in the next five years in will move toward the top. As a realtor, this is a significant trend to not ignore.

What is a Smart Home?

What exactly are we talking about? I have a digital thermostat. Doesn’t that mean I have a smart home?

A smart device is a state-of-the-art device that connects to your smartphone, tablet or computer to give you more information and control than ever before. Your smart appliance can send you alerts, for example, so you’ll know exactly when the laundry is clean or the cookies are ready.

CNET, the world’s largest and most trusted online source of consumer technology news and reviews defines a “Smart Home” as a home that is equipped with network-connected products (i.e., “smart products,” connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols) for controlling, automating and optimizing functions such as temperature, lighting, security, safety or entertainment, either remotely by a phone, tablet, computer or a separate system within the home itself.

“Smart home automation is the era of smartphones and AI communicating to automate your home to be interconnected.”

CNET goes further to say that in order to be categorized as a smart home, in addition to a reliable Internet connection, the property must have one or both of these features:

  1. a smart security feature that either controls access or monitors the property,
  2. a smart temperature feature.

It must also include at least two additional features from this list:

  • Appliances (smart refrigerators and smart washer / dryers)
  • Entertainment (smart TVs and TV streaming services)
  • Heating / Cooling (smart HVAC system, smart fans or vents)
  • Lighting (smart light bulbs and lighting systems)
  • Outdoors (smart-plant sensors and watering systems)
  • Safety (smart fire / carbon monoxide detectors and nightlights)
  • Security (smart locks, smart alarm systems or cameras)
  • Temperature (smart thermostats)

First things first, a robust Wi-Fi infrastructure, without dead spots, is essential and works as the foundation to any smart home technology.

Lennar, one of the nation’s largest builders, announced the world’s first Wi-Fi CERTIFIED™ home designs featuring integrated automation and voice control with Amazon Alexa – all a part of Lennar’s signature Everything’s Included® approach to homebuilding.

Lennar is the first to embrace the new Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Home Design™ program announced by Wi-Fi Alliance®, the worldwide network of companies that drives the interoperability, adoption, and evolution of Wi-Fi® globally. Lennar’s Wi-Fi CERTIFIED home designs are guaranteed to provide coverage in every room with no dead spots. This allows buyers to control their lights, front door lock and thermostat simply by talking to Amazon Alexa or any similar smart hub.

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED home designs enable today’s best smart and streaming products to operate at peak performance and are ready for the future as new technologies come to market.

How do you boost your Wi-Fi to get the most out of your internet?

If your internet isn’t as fast as the internet speeds you pay for and you’re plagued by slow speeds, bad reception, and other Wi-Fi issues , your wireless internet router signal is probably the reason. Here are 8 ways you can power up the Wi-Fi performance in your home:

  1. Don’t stuff your router in a cupboard – place your router in a central location
  2. Reset your router
  3. Cut off bandwidth leeches by updating security
  4. Optimize your router’s settings
  5. Choose a new Wi-Fi channel
  6. Purchase a newer, high-end router
  7. Consider a wifi mesh system
  8. Turn an old router into a new, dumb access point

Secondly, you’ll need to choose a “Voice Assistant.” Virtual voice-controlled assistants like Apple’s (Siri), Google’s Assistant, Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa make it easy to control smart home products by speaking simple commands like “Alexa, turn on the lights.” A wireless smart speaker is the absolute first investment you should make when transforming your digs into a smart dwelling. Each of these assistants has its strengths and weaknesses, so choose the one that will be more likely to work for your needs.

“Hey, Siri, move me onto the step three in building a smart home.”

Thirdly, there needs to be some type of smart home controller.  This is where you use your iPhone or Android to remotely control and change the settings in your house through a home automation app. Smart Home and Home Automation are virtually interchangeable, in fact, if you Google what is a smart home most of the same results will appear. What is home automation? Home automation is part of “The Internet of Things,” also known as IoT.

A smart home usually runs off a hub connected to the internet, and sends waves of communication to other devices. Home automation apps allow a smartphone interface to control devices wherever there’s connection. A few smart home applications are Insteon, Nest, Honeywell, Ring, Philips Hue, WeMo, IFTTT, and SmartThings.

You can control all your connected devices including locks, lights, outlets, and thermostats, with the SmartThings Hub and the SmartThings app by simple voice commands using Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Use your phone to remotely monitor and control your home’s security, energy usage, lighting, and more.

Smart home technology is based on the idea that communication signals can be sent between devices to make something happen. Although it is not necessary to understand how these signals work, it might help to have a basic understanding of the various technologies used to make this happen.

  • Insteon is considered the most-reliable home control and automation technology. Using both the existing wires (power line) in the home and radio-frequency communication.
  • Z-Wave & Zigbee are the two most popular wireless technologies, using radio frequency (RF) to communicate between devices.
  • Wi-Fi technology can be really fast and super simple to set up.
  • Some using a combination of these. The most common communication technologies are Wi-Fi and Insteon.


Smart Home Device Categories

Beyond the hub of a smart speaker (voice assistant), in the tech world of endless possibilities; you can automate lamps, wifi thermostats, light switches, light bulbs, locks, home security sensors, life safety sensors, video cameras, doorbells, speakers, and more. Between this year and 2022, experts estimate the global smart home device market to grow by as much as 11% annually. Creating a smart home is, arguably, no longer a pipe dream for most households due to lower costs and compatibility with voice-based assistants.

Entertainment: smart TVs, media adapters, and streaming boxes

A streaming media player is what connects your television or home theater to the Internet and allows you to stream video and music from online services. They’re typically very basic devices with only a few connections, such as video (HDMI and/or composite), audio (RCA and/or digital), and Ethernet networking jacks. This devices can include home theater components and products that allow consumers control all audio and video functions from virtually anywhere in the home. For example, consumers no longer need to spend time looking for remotes to activate home theater components. With the touch of a single button, the television, audio and surround sound automatically activates.

The best rated streaming device for 2018 is Amazon Fire TV Cube.  With Alexa on Fire TV Cube, you can control compatible TVs, sound bars, and A/V receivers from top brands like Samsung, Sony, LG, Vizio, and more. Plus, tune to live TV channels with cable or satellite boxes from providers like Comcast, DISH, DIRECTV/AT&T U-verse, and more. You cannot use your voice to change channels through an over-the-air HD antenna.

Home Monitoring/Security

A smart home monitoring system connects to your Wi-Fi network so you can monitor and control your security devices using your smartphone and an app. Entry-level systems usually include some door and window sensors, a motion detector, and a hub that communicates with these devices using one or more wireless protocols such as Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, or a proprietary mesh network. You can add extra door, motion, and window sensors to provide coverage for your entire house and build a comprehensive system that includes door locks, garage door openers, indoor and outdoor surveillance cameras, lights, sirens, smoke/CO detectors, water sensors, and more.

SimpliSafe is the highest rated and best selling system on the market. Other manufacturers to consider are Homeboy, SkyBell, and Netgear Arlo.

Security and locking devices allow the front door to be unlocked or the garage door to be closed through the Internet or phone.  Lock and unlock your door from anywhere and give secure digital keys to guests, all from your phone. Smart Locks attach to your existing deadbolt, on the inside of your door so you can still use your keys. The device automatically unlocks when you arrive and locks when you leave. Control your lock with your voice using Amazon Alexa or the Google Assistant. The August Smart Lock Third Generation is the best device on the market today. Others to consider are Kwikset, Schlage, and Yale.



When you begin investing in your smart home, it’s the little things that make all the difference. These products enable you to control the amount of light in your home automation directly at the source. You can even transform your home lighting with the color-changing bulbs. The Wi-Fi-enabled LIFX Mini Color Smart Light sets the mood of your space with a rainbow of hues that adjust at the tap of your phone. Delivering over 800 lumens from just 9 watts, the Smart Light is designed to save energy while being environmentally friendly. Other makers of lighting products worth noting are Casetta by Lutron, Phil


Smart thermostats are devices that can be used with home automation and are responsible for controlling a home’s heating and/or air conditioning. They perform the same functions as a programmable thermostat as they allow the user to control the temperature of their home throughout the day using a schedule, such as setting a different temperature at night.

One example is the Nest Learning Thermostat. This device learns what temperature you like and builds a schedule around yours. Turn it down before you go to bed, up when you wake up, and down again before you leave for work. Within a week, the Nest will automatically do all that for you. Independent studies showed that it saved people an average of 10% to 12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills. So in under two years, it can pay for itself.

Notable other thermostat makers are Ecobee, Honeywell, Schneider, and Sensi.

Smart Plugs

This is an easy upgrade for someone who doesn’t want to overhaul their home’s hardware, but still wants to add smart wireless functionality. What is it? A smart plug plugs into your regular old wall outlet but usually comes with a corresponding app, so that you can control whatever you plug into it remotely. You plug the smart plug directly into an outlet, then plug any device into the smart plug. You will then be able to control whatever device you plugged in even when you’re not in the room or even the house. Using an app, you’ll be able to do things like turn off your living room floor lamp even from across town. You’ll also be able to get the coffee maker started without leaving the comfort of your bed, or check that the slow-cooker is on while you’re still at work.

This will be one of the hottest Christmas stocking stuffers for 2018.


There is a plethora of amazing home automation products to make your life more safe, comfortable, and convenient. Many of these are not featured here. This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) featured the latest innovations in appliances including vacuums, ranges, washing machines, and refrigerators. For instance, you could be working in your home office when you realized you didn’t hit start on your washing machine. Instead of breaking your concentration, you can ask Amazon’s Alexa to set your washing machine to your selected cycle, set the water temperature, and start it – all from your desk chair. Check out this list of additional smart devices.

The Smart Green Home

Smart green homes make sustainability easy. More and more people are becoming aware of the ability to make their homes truly smart  they can move toward making them green too!  By utilizing home controllers integrated with all home sub-systems, homeowners can increase savings by controlling lighting, window coverings, HVAC, irrigation and by monitoring usage. Many home controllers have built-in monitoring systems whereby they calculate and log usage by all connected devices, giving the home owner heightened awareness and the knowledge to make changes as necessary.

With a larger percentage of home buyers being made up of millennials than ever before, high-tech and green homes seem to be on everyone’s list these days. “Smart” home features frequently pair well with eco-friendly and green building designs, because many smart features offer you greater control over areas of your home that consume energy.

Both smart home technology and green building design are on the top of many homeowners’ must-have lists these days. As companies strive to make improvements in both fields, the options keep getting better and better. Check

Smart Home automation is not reserved for new home construction. Remodels offer you a chance to transform the look and functionality of your home. Smart home technology is increasingly becoming part of that equation.

A smart home system can make your house and your life safer, simpler and more comfortable. Trying to get things started with home automation can be intimidating, but a smart home doesn’t have to be filled with crazy gadgets and robot devices. It’s as simple as swapping out everyday products with devices that fulfill the same role, but are connected to each other in order to improve home automation. By setting up a system of triggers and responses that accomplish smalls tasks, you can save yourself time, energy, effort, and even increase home security.

Black Friday season is around the corner. Now is the time to make your move to the Smart Home.

Read more:

  • https://www.smarthome.com/sc-what-is-home-automation
  • https://www.digitaltrends.com/dtdeals/smart-home-automation-for-beginners/
  • https://www.allconnect.com/blog/boost-your-wi-fi-signal-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-high-speed-internet-connection/
  • https://lifehacker.com/the-10-best-ways-to-boost-your-home-wifi-5931743
  • https://www.hellotech.com/blog/5-fastest-growing-smart-home-device-categories/
  • https://medium.com/iotforall/who-is-buying-into-iot-8f65c701b1ef
  • https://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/114138952?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u9325&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery1_s&newsletterId=9325
  • https://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2498510,00.asp
  • https://www.usgbc.org/articles/smart-green-homes-make-sustainability-easy