Technology in Real Estate

Despite being the single largest industry in the United States in terms of assets, the real estate sector has been surprisingly behind the times when it comes to the adoption of cutting-edge technology.

According to a recent article in Forbes, the real estate industry is at the same place now that many other industries were just getting to in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Many of the largest real estate companies are using proprietary technology, which entails frequent updates, patches, and ever-expanding functionality, along with all of the known problems that those sorts of fixes bring.

At the same time, there has been little interest in adopting industry-standard platforms in almost all other sectors. This has led to terrible inefficiency, a sort of constant reinvention of the wheel as 20 different companies develop 20 different solutions to precisely the same problem without ever collaborating with each other or determining what an optimal solution might look like based on their collective experience.

All told, the real estate industry is behind the technological times.

Some innovations are showing big promise…

See my blog at JasonCohenPittsburgh.org for my full article.

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7 Open House Mistakes to Avoid

For agents, a good impression at an open house is a jump start toward a successful sale. A bad impression can hurt future opportunities by leading to negative reviews and word of mouth.

Obtain a good impression by steering clear of these mistakes during your next open house.

No Marketing

Today’s buyers don’t read a front lawn sign or read a newspaper. Agents must take the announcement to them….

No Parking

It’s problematic to accommodate every buyer with a great parking space, but it’s mandatory. No buyer wants to attend an open house without ensuring his or her vehicles are safe

Both Unpleasant and Pleasant Smells

Agents know to remove unpleasant smells. However, good smells like candles or air fresheners can irritate buyers too, triggering allergies and sensitivity…

Unwanted Guests

Buyers are at ease talking to an agent rather than speaking to the seller. Although not intentional, sellers and his/her family annoy buyers with their bias viewpoint of the home…

Background Noise

Like smells, music playing in the background is a distraction….

Blocking Rooms

What are sellers hiding?…

Pitch Black

Similar to music and blocked rooms, a dark house is a signal for hiding something….

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To read my full blog and get all the info you need for your next open house, please visit this link to the full version of my blog

 

The Basics of Home Inspection

Home-Inspection-101-Basics-Jason-Cohen-Pittsburgh

Prior to buying a property, you’ll want to ensure that you hire a reputable, qualified inspector to examine the home’s overall condition. No house is perfect, but you should know what you’re getting into if you want to avoid unforeseen problems later down the road.

Home inspections can also be helpful for homeowners who wish to proactively examine their existing property, or sellers who want to learn of any problems before listing their property.

Generally, it’s recommended that your inspector be ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) certified. It is a highly respected non-profit organization that promotes excellence in home inspection.

What Do They Inspect?

A typical home inspection covers a handful of basic areas:

  • Exterior. The inspector will examine roofing and flashing materials, decks and chimneys, drainage conditions, etc.
  • Interior. Plumbing, electric, windows, doors, HVAC systems will all be inspected to insure they were installed correctly and are still in working order. This part of the inspection is extremely important because it could raise red flags that weren’t noticed by an untrained eye.
  • Attics and Basements. No part of the home goes unseen. The inspector will look in every accessible crawl space and floor level to examine insulation, ventilation, and ensure that everything is in working order.

Inspectors know that a home might be lived in when they come to look at it. However, it’s in your best interest to ensure that the inspector can easily navigate through the home to give the most accurate report possible.

Should I Be At the Inspection?

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For the rest of this article, please see my full version on my personal blog

Tips for Building Your Perfect Privacy Fence

If you have a yard but live in close proximity to your neighbors, a privacy fence could give your outdoor space the peace and seclusion you’re looking for. Any chain link fence would keep your pets safe and give them a place to roam free, but a privacy fence adds a level of sophistication. The right privacy fence could give your yard the backdrop for an outdoor sanctuary of your dreams.

Primary Materials

There are numerous options for your privacy fence, but it boils down a handful of options for your primary material. These are wood, vinyl, masonry, composite or vegetation. Each has their own pros and cons based on cost, maintenance and aesthetic appeal.

Wood

Wooden fences are a classic option for privacy fences. They’re generally affordable for most homeowners. The cost varies depending on the quality level of the wood you purchase, but good sealant and proper installation is key regardless of what wood you purchase. Because of the nature of wood, you can paint or stain the wood any shade you choose. For a uniform look and quicker installation, you could purchase wood panels so your fence is partially pre-assembled upon arrival. Or, you could buy your own wood to create your own personalized fence with some design flexibility.

The biggest drawback of a wooden fence is that it requires yearly maintenance. It will need to be re-stained or refinished with sealant that protects from UV rays and water damage. Otherwise, the wood could rot, warp or fall victim to fungus. If you’re buying the wood or panels from a hardware store, you should also sort through to ensure you’re buying the best of the bunch. Look for pieces that are already warped or misshapen and avoid picking them for your project.

One pro tip for the craftier of homeowners: use recycled wood! If you can find pallets, mismatched wood, and other materials at a cheap price, you could use your creativity to turn it into a unique masterpiece. With poor craftsmanship, it could turn into a mess. However, when these fences are done properly, they create an artsy, rustic space that is perfect for some homeowners’ styles. Pinterest has some great inspiration for creative privacy fences.

Vinyl

Vinyl fences are an alternative to the look of standard wood. The fences are usually white, gray or cream-colored, providing a neutral backdrop for your outdoor area. They’re resilient to termite damage, fungus and dry rot. Cleaning is a breeze because they can easily be sprayed off to remove dirt and grime. Installation is also reportedly very easy. The biggest disadvantage is the cost. The initial investment is higher than that of a wooden fence. The material can also become distorted with extreme temperatures or wind.

Vegetation

If you live in an area with the proper climate, a living vegetation fence could be a great option for privacy. A wall of columnar evergreens at the edge of your property adds life to the space while providing a visual barrier to passersby. Tall hedges are another great option. These fences are also usually unrestricted by local bylaws and building codes that limit the height of a fence on residential property. If the upkeep of natural vegetation is too time-consuming for your lifestyle, you might also consider artificial hedge paneling for your fencing needs.

Composite

Composite fences are visually similar to wood fences, but require less maintenance and hold up better over time. The only downside is that they are far more costly.

Bamboo

Bamboo is another great alternative because it is tough, grows quickly and can withstand most temperatures and treatments. For environmentally-friendly homeowners, these fences are a great option. If you frame the bamboo sections with black metal, it adds a sophistication to your yard that is hard to replicate with other materials.

Stone, Brick or Concrete

For homeowners who want a unique design with maximum privacy and security, they may consider a fence made of stone, brick or concrete. Concrete is the cheapest of the three options, but stone and brick fences look more natural in some landscapes. With a high enough fence, it is nearly impossible for intruders or unwanted animal guests to break into your private space. These fences are also extremely durable and require little maintenance.

Additional Considerations

Before you start your fencing project, be sure that you’re confident about your property line. If you build your fence on a neighbor’s property, it could result in a tedious legal battle and ultimately removal of your fence.

If you’re not confident in your ability to build a fence on your own, consult a local contractor or landscaper. They will be familiar with your area’s building codes and have the raw skills needed to get the job done right.

Carefully consider all your options before jumping into the project. With all the fence materials available, you can pick one or combine them to create a unique border for your space. Shop around for the best price and materials. If you’re choosing to outsource the job, consider the reputation of the workers you’re hiring.

A nice privacy fence is a big investment. In some cases, is better to save up for an end result you’ll be happy with instead of rushing for the quickest fix. If you need a barrier while saving for your dream fence, invest in a chain link fence for temporary use. They are cheap and easy to install in comparison to other fence types. They also sell slats for your chain link fence that would give you some additional privacy. This option isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as the other options mentioned above, but it is a great choice for homeowners on a budget who want some privacy in their yard.

Best of luck with your new fence! If you have any additional tips, tell me in the comments or connect with me on social media.

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Jason Cohen (Pittsburgh) originally posted this content at JasonCohenPittsburgh.org.