Luxury Homes Use “Smart” Tech to Go Green

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While luxury homes are often criticized for being excessive and wasteful, the last few years have seen high-end construction make a concerted turn toward improved sustainability and efficiency. In 2015, more than ever, smart home technology is being applied to the problem of energy consumption and environmental impact, resulting in luxury homes that are simultaneously high-end and eco-friendly.

Jennifer Egbert, a REALTOR based in Boulder, Colorado who specializes in luxury homes, has noticed a steady uptick in the combination of smart home technology and eco-friendly design practices in new luxury home constructions. “Smart home design is evolving quickly to meet the demands of current homeowners and future buyers,” Egbert wrote in a recent online article for At Home Colorado. “Especially here in Boulder, high-tech and energy efficient houses continue to rise in popularity.”

According to Egbert, an ILHM-certified real estate professional, four of today’s most popular luxury home design features focus on solar power, water conservation, efficient energy storage, and smart home technology.

Passive Solar Homes

In addition to harnessing the sun’s power with high-efficiency solar panels, today’s most ecologically oriented luxury residences are built using passive solar home design. With careful window positioning and insulation, passive solar homes are heated and cooled naturally by the environment, reducing reliance on A/C and furnace units that are famously inefficient—particularly in spacious, open-plan homes like those on the luxury market. Egbert is currently featuring a Boulder-area high-tech passive house on her website, and she sees the passive house trend as both unique and important. “It’s paving the way for a new type of lifestyle—one that emphasizes an appreciation for nature while providing high-end building components.”

Water Conservation

Newer eco-friendly luxury homes are doing away with expansive green lawns and non-native plants that require mind-boggling volumes of water. “Homeowners are becoming increasingly concerned with conserving water,” noted Egbert, “which is why many residences are employing water-saving landscaping design techniques like hardscaping or xeriscaping.” In addition, wealthy eco-minded homeowners are installing simple design features to reduce water consumption, such as high-efficiency toilets, showerheads, and faucets, as well as water capture systems that harvest rainwater for in-home use.

Tesla Home Energy Battery

One of the most groundbreaking recent innovations in eco-technology is the Tesla home energy battery, which is out of stock until 2016—proof of its popularity. The Tesla Powerwalllinks with a home’s solar panels, stores energy for later consumption, and provides energy to run a residence regardless of weather conditions. If the residence is connected to the grid, the Powerwall further helps to cut utility bills by charging during times of day when energy costs are at their lowest. “Energy efficiency is on most people’s minds these days,” said Egbert, “so some homeowners are going to great lengths to cut down on their utility bills.”

Smart Home Technology

Along with incorporating eco-friendly design features into their residences, luxury homeowners are implementing cutting-edge “smart home” technology, which integrates seamlessly with mobile devices and offers easy manipulation of home functions like temperature, humidity, lighting, irrigation, and entertainment. Ambient intelligent systems (AmI) go one step further by predicting and responding to residents’ needs. A network of sensors tracks movements and behavioral patterns and, as a result, the system can turn up the lights as you enter a dark hallway or adjust the heating when you’re expected to get home late from work. Remarking on the growing popularity of high-tech luxury homes, Egbert said, “To many homeowners, the phrase ‘smart home’ still conjures up images of futuristic gadgets, but that technology is definitely available and many builders and home owners are choosing to implement it.”

— Luxury Insights 07 December 2015 —


Just the Facts: Coppell Among Best Place to Live

Coppell – Best Place to Live

Money released its list of the best places to live in 2015, focusing on small cities that pack high wages, low home costs, steady job growth and excellent quality of life.    Coppell ranks at the top nationwide   Three cities in Texas made the Top 20 List.  The states dominating the list included Connecticut, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas and Utah, each with three cities making the cut. Eight of the cities featured on the list were in the New England region, while four were in the Pacific Northwest. California, while having the largest population in the U.S., only had two of its cities featured.

–          Money Magazine, August 2015 Issue

 

Coppell – Best Small Cities for Working Parents

The city of Coppell was ranked as the No. 19 best city small city in America for working parents, according to the financial website NerdWallet.com.   NerdWallet analyzed around 1,000 cities in the United States with populations from 25,000 to 100,000. According to the site, small cities were surveyed because they routinely offer the best environments for middle-class families.  NerdWallet analyst Sreekar Jasthi said several factors played into the ranking. Jasthi said income and affordability, child care costs, quality of schools and the percentage of homes that had children were taken into account.  Jasthi said Coppell earned high marks for the quality of education as Coppell ISD is continually ranked among the best school districts in the country. Coppell, however, does suffer from higher than average child-care costs, Jasthi said.    Jasthi said the percentage of homes with children is a “sign of a healthy community,” and 46 percent of Coppell homes have children in them.  Coppell, however, was ranked among the most expensive cities surveyed.  While home costs in Coppell are higher, the median income for Coppell families is higher than the average. Jasthi said the average income for a family with at least one child is $62,000. Coppell was surveyed as having a median income of around $123,000.  Coppell was the only Texas city in the top 20. Allen came in at No. 24, Keller was ranked at No. 31 and Sugar Land was No. 38.

–          Dallas Morning News, July 24. 2015


Toyota Gears Up for Groundbreaking in Plano

future home of Toyota

Toyota North America will break ground Tuesday in Plano for their new U.S. headquarters.  Construction is expected to complete in late 2016 with 4,000 possible positions transferring from their current California facility. According to the article of NBCDFW.com, “A spokesperson for Toyota said the quality of life in North Texas is one of the  many reasons the company decided to make the move from California.”

You can see the rest of the article HERE.


4 Reasons to Buy Before Spring

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The holiday season is behind us, time to focus on what exciting new experiences 2015 can bring! If you are planning on becoming a homeowner, or moving up to the home of your dreams in 2015, here are four great reasons to consider buying a home now, instead of waiting until spring.

1. Prices Will Continue to Rise

The Home Price Expectation Survey polls a distinguished panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. Their most recent report projects appreciation in home values over the next five years to be between 15.1% (most pessimistic) and 32.8% (most optimistic).

The bottom in home prices has come and gone. Home values will continue to appreciate for years. Waiting no longer makes sense. 

2. Mortgage Interest Rates Are Projected to Increase

Although Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey shows that interest rates for a 30-year mortgage have softened recently, most experts predict that they will begin to rise over the next 12 months. The Mortgage Bankers Association, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac & the National Association of Realtors are in unison projecting that rates will be up almost a full percentage point by the end of 2015.

An increase in rates will impact YOUR monthly mortgage payment. Your housing expense will be more a year from now if a mortgage is necessary to purchase your next home.

3. Either Way You are Paying a Mortgage

As a paper from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University explains:

“Households must consume housing whether they own or rent. Not even accounting for more favorable tax treatment of owning, homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principal while households that rent pay down the principal of a landlord plus a rate of return. That’s yet another reason owning often does—as Americans intuit—end up making more financial sense than renting.”

4. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

The ‘cost’ of a home is determined by two major components: the price of the home and the current mortgage rate. It appears that both are on the rise.

But, what if they weren’t? Would you wait?

Look at the actual reason you are buying and decide whether it is worth waiting. Whether you want to have a great place for your children to grow up, you want your family to be safer or you just want to have control over renovations, maybe it is time to buy.

If the right thing for you and your family is to purchase a home this year, buying sooner rather than later could lead to substantial savings.

– Keeping Current Matters; 7 January 2015


Where will Mortgage Rates be Headed in 2015?

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We finished 2014 with the 30 year fixed mortgage rate at 3.87% as per Freddie Mac. This is very close to the historic lows in the spring of 2013.

However, the Mortgage Bankers Association projects mortgage rates to be about 5% by the end of 2015. The website Investopedia agrees and gives some perspective on the 5% rate:

“Barring another financial and housing market implosion, and if the economy continues to improve, expect interest rates to rise in the latter half of 2015. If they do jump to the 5% range it will be a modest hike when compared to historical averages. Rates will still be far below the approximately 8.5% 30-year fixed-rates mortgages have averaged since 1971 when Freddie Mac started tracking them. Rates averaged 6% in the years leading up to the recession.”

Here are the latest 2015 mortgage rate projections from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Mortgage Bankers’ Association and the National Association of Realtors:

Interest-Rates-2015

– Keeping Current Matters; January 6, 2014


A Home’s Cost vs. Price Explained

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We have often talked about the difference between COST and PRICE. As a seller, you will be most concerned about ‘short term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As either a first time or repeat buyer, you must not be concerned about price but instead about the ‘long term cost’ of the home.

Let us explain.

Recently, we reported that a nationwide panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists projected that home values would appreciate by approximately 4% from now to the end of 2015.

Additionally, Freddie Mac’s most recent Economic Commentary & Projections Tablepredicts that the 30 year fixed mortgage rate will be 5.0% by the end of next year.

What Does This Mean to a Buyer?

Here is a simple demonstration of what impact these projected changes would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:

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– Keeping Current Matters; October 14, 2014


Dallas Midtown (currently Valley View Mall and surrounding area)

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Could the 70 acres at Valley View Mall be the new Dallas Midtown?   This is the proposal that is scheduled to go before the Dallas City Council with construction beginning in 2016.   The same architectural firm responsible for NorthPark Center, Highland Park Village and the Galleria — has done the rendering that is part of the proposal being shopped to prospective tenants.  The extreme makeover for the 70-acre area bound by Preston Road, LBJ Freeway, Montfort Drive and Alpha Road will include 285,000 square feet of retail; 2,440 residential rental units; 250 condos; a 500-room hotel; 1,497,000 square feet worth of office space and a sprawling park (billed in the look book as the “Largest Programmed Dallas City Park”) that will link Midtown with the Galleria.  The architectural plans are done; now it’s time to fill the expansive space with tenants, including, as you can see in one of the renderings included here, a grocery.

  • Dallas Morning News, November 13, 2014