CES 2016 (the Consumer Electronics Show) concluded last weekend, showcasing new products to make our homes “smarter.” Phys.org describes “spectacular growth from products like a smart mirror from Haier that delivers news and weather and connects to other appliances; connected spoons; and diet scales” to help mainstream “smart homes.”

1950s washer adNot long ago, we thought we were technologically savvy by having a programmable thermostat, an automated sprinkler system, and an electric garage door opener. Well, back in the 1950s, an automatic washing machine was the great time-saving device. Welcome to the Twenty-teens. A smart home is a connected home.

By the way, one product is not enough to make home “smart.” To achieve this status, you need at least three different categories of smart products within a house. According to a year-end poll, “Smart Home Marketplace Survey,” the most recognized categories are smart security (locks, sensors, and alarm systems), temperature (thermostats and fans), lighting (bulbs and lighting systems), and safety (fire/CO2 detectors and nightlights).

What’s Being Used Now

451 Research identifies the top three products owned by current users of smart home tech as being a smart thermostat (41%), smart indoor cameras (28%) and door/window motion sensors (28%). However, this paper didn’t include entertainment as a category.

The Smart Home Marketplace Survey finds entertainment to be the gateway tech into the smart home habit. (Yes, 70% of people with smart home technology said buying their first smart home product made them more likely to buy another one.) Highest on the list of smart entertainment are TVs and speaker systems. Icontrol also noted a 55% surge in entertainment as a driver to smart home adoption between 1014 and 1015.

Desired Smart Home Devices

From iControl Networks “2015 State of the Smart Home Report”

Differences by Region (USA)

There are some interesting regional differences in the US according to Icontrol’s report in early 2015:

  • Homeowners in the Northeast had the highest likelihood among regions to purchase a connected home monitoring camera.
  • Southern homeowners were most interested in a connected thermostat and also wanted to communicate with their home appliances.
  • Those in the West had the highest likelihood to be interested in self-watering plants and were most excited about connecting their entertainment room to the house.
  • Midwestern homeowners were least likely among the regions to purchase a connected device, but if they did, they were most excited about connecting their kitchen.


The flip side of being connected is the fear that personal information may get stolen, according to Icontrol. Other identified concerns include the fear that data will be collected and sold and fear that their smart home tech will have too many bugs.

Selling a Home

New homes and the luxury market have led the way in smart home technology.

As we see more mainstreaming of smart home technology, we should expect to see connected devices being considered an “expected” feature in homes in the way that multi-paned windows have replaced with a single pane.

smart device imageAccording to the Smart Home Marketplace Survey, more than half the homeowners who were planning to sell their home would purchase or install smart home products, if they knew that doing so would make it sell faster. Pre-installed home tech that most attract home buyers are smart security (58%) and temperature (56%), while connected entertainment systems seem to be least appealing (29%).

What smart home tech do you already have? Do you plan to purchase new smart home tech this year?

Self-driving cars will change the way you think about real estate.

Cars have been in the news a lot in the last month or so. Volkswagen has an emissions scandal. Google has a new Self-Driving Car Project CEO. Automakers at the Frankfurt International Motor Show are talking about staying relevant (and not becoming hardware makers for tech companies). And Car Free Day in Paris happens September 27, 2015.

Google-Self-Driving-Car-2-I have a great interest in self-driving cars. Most of my interest stems from seeing Google’s cars on the road every single day. A proliferation of self-driving cars will happen quickly, but it will happen in stages, the first being industrial fleets of autonomous vehicles run by taxi services and disruptors like Google, Tesla, and Uber, and by peer-to-peer car sharing services like ZipCar.

But how would autonomous cars relate to real estate?

People will have more disposable income.

The automobile is the second most expensive personal asset people purchase. Add in insurance, gas, speeding tickets, and upkeep – all that money could be spent elsewhere (like on a home).

Fewer accidents equals fewer deaths and injuries, leading to fewer medical expenses, not to mention fewer missed work hours during recovery. Don’t worry about the doctors – they will always have work.

Home location will be less of an issue.

Let’s face it, walking distance to shops will always be in demand. A good school district will, too.

On the other hand, self-driving cars are expected to diminish the number of cars on the road, and make commuting faster (upwards of 140 mph) and more efficient. So, living near work, school, or shopping should be less important.

Plus, commute times will be productive.

Think of it this way, instead of putting on makeup, shaving, or reading the morning news at home, you could do it in the car. Yes, I know that people do it anyway, along with phone calls and meetings while commuting, but it would no longer be distracted driving.

Did you know nodding off while driving is more dangerous than driving drunk? You could take a nap in an autonomous car.

More real estate would become available.

UnknownThink of those acres of parking lots outside of workplaces, malls, and shopping districts. Call your car with an app to pick you up and drop you off where you want to be (no more endlessly circling in the search for parking space). It can go park itself and return when you need it.

That leaves more land available for additional housing or open space.

By the way, you won’t need your garage, unless you use it for storage like I do. Or driveways. That gives us more room on our lot for more landscaping or living space.

Will people give up cars completely? I doclassic-cars-8ubt that autonomous cars will be as
practical outside of urban areas. I suppose that there will always be enthusiasts demanding their rights to own and drive their classic car.

Interested in learning more or following this topic on a regular basis? Check out Driverless Car Market Watch, a website dedicated to the topic.

When Sharon and I got married, I asked her what her dreams and goals were. We both believe very strongly that when you belong to a community, you must contribute to the community. One of our mutual goals was to help children.

Intero Foundation logoAfter joining Intero Real Estate Services, I learned that the company had created a foundation to support children in need. I admit that for me, this is the best of both worlds. Here, we have a foundation that meets our goals and ideals, and we don’t have to run it.

Last year alone, the Intero Foundation granted $300,000 to 38 organizations that positively impact the growth and well being of children.

Our “Spotlight” grant recipient for Spring 2015 is the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative, BAWSI, which received $10,000 from the Intero Foundation, an amount that was doubled by a matching donor.


In 2005, BAWSI Girls, aimed connect female athletes with young girls who weren’t being exposed to organized sports, or physical education classes, and to reach girls in communities where obesity and diabetes were prevalent.

With the success of BAWSI Girls, the organization sought to reach a new group of kids with the same message of building confidence, making friends, and having fun. BAWSI Rollers is an adaptive program, giving children with physical and/or cognitive disabilities a chance to experience team sports.

By the way, if you have an organization whose primary focus is youth and children in our community from birth to the age of 17 years old, please apply for a grant, or let me know if you want an insider’s help.

Other Spring 2015 grant recipients included

Logo link to Able WorksAble Works,

Logo link to Community School of Music and Arts



Community School of Music and Arts,


logo link to Child Advocates of Silicon Valley


Child Advocates of Silicon Valley,





Pacific Autism Center for Education,



Parents Helping Parents, and







South Bay Teen Challenge.


The Intero Foundation is a non-profit organization founded in 2002 to benefit children living in the communities we serve. We have raised more than $3 million to lend support to over 130 local charities and our endowment fund reached $1 million in June 2015!

Funds are raised through donations by Intero agents, staff, and executives, as well as through fundraisers.