The Ring doorbell system may see like a great way to keep your home safe. The doorbell cameras let you see who’s at the door and who has come to visit when you weren’t home. You can even use the video recording to see if a missing package got delivered or who put that pink flamingo in your yard.
In the past few years, however, there have been some concerns about the safety of these video doorbells. Some reports suggest that the doorbells can be hacked, and privacy concerns have surfaced around how they operate. If you’re wondering how legitimate these issues are and whether Ring is safe, here are some things to consider.
Ring doorbells are smart devices that provide you with a video camera unit by your front door. A motion detector on the unit alerts you there is someone approaching the door, giving you the option to see them, hear what they say and even talk back to them. Unlike old-school doorbell intercoms, Ring connects to your home network and to the cloud so that you can access video and audio regardless of where you are or what you’re doing. Video clips are even shareable if you desire. Given its popularity, in recent years Ring has expanded to offer full-home security options and even smart lighting as well.
There have been legitimate reports of hackers gaining access to home Ring units or to their cloud-based video vault. An exploit in the Ring software was also discovered. Some cases of details about the home network (including the access password) could be broadcast by the Ring unit in unencrypted plain text. If a hacker were able to get access to this broadcast, they would be able to log on to the home network, and potentially access the computers and other devices that were connected.
On top of the hacking concerns, the fact that Ring begins recording video in front of your house when motion is detected raised some concerns that it might violate people’s privacy. The fear was that even people who weren’t approaching your home could be captured on film if they were walking by when the camera was activated or if the motion sensor was able to detect movement beyond the boundaries of your property. For those who worry about surveillance or are afraid that videos of them might be shared without their knowledge or consent, this makes Ring-related privacy issues a very real concern.
The concerns people have about Ring units being hacked or invading their privacy when out in public are legitimate, though remain a very small problem. The issue with Ring broadcasting information in plain text was caught before it could be exploited and has been patched, and the company has instituted additional login security measures to help prevent unauthorized access to accounts. And while there is the potential for Ring cameras to pick up motion outside a user’s property, its sensors have a fairly limited range and detect motion relatively close to your front door.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t any concerns to using Ring, of course. Hacking concerns can be reduced by making sure that both your home network and any devices that connect to it are secured with strong passwords. You should also take care to position cameras and motion detectors so that they don’t face your neighbor’s house, and use caution when setting up devices like these if you have a very small yard. With a little care, however, these devices should be safe to use.
Home security is a serious concern, and it’s important that you can trust the devices you use to secure your home. If you’re in need of a more professional security solution, check out HomeKeepr to help you find the security pros that you need to select and install devices that are both safe to use, and trustworthy and reliable when you need them.
The AR Property Group donated 50 meals to the front line workers at INOVA Fairfax Hospital. We were so happy to work with our friends at the CELEBRITY DELLY who prepared 50 delicious, individual meals according to Inova’s suggested guidelines. If you would like to donate, let us know and we can help you with who to contact and the process. Thank you INOVA and CELEBRITY DELLY for helping us bring this plan to life! We love and appreciate you guys!
Beautiful Oakton Cul-de-sac listing! 4 BR up plus additional 5th guest quarters on lower level – each BR has dedicated bath, walk-in closet, and ceiling fan. Updated kitchen and baths, hardwoods, private back yard, 3 car garage, on .3+ acres. Let us know if you want to see it or just follow the virtual tour! www.10102OaktonDrive.com
Over the years our market center has built a great relationship with the Willston Center helping them with the grounds (re-mulching their playground, clearing overgrown brush, planting flowers, building planters), cleaning and organizing their storage room, creating a Teen Room with new carpet, fresh paint, a new flat screen TV, providing children with backpacks full of school supplies in the fall, and just a few weeks ago we provided a Jimmy Johns dinner. It’s wild to think back on!
This Red Day we helped in a new way by providing food to those who are struggling to provide for their family. Here’s how it worked:
Food Drive and Distribution
Step 1: We got onto Nextdoor and social media about a Food drive so our neighbors could leave food on their front porch for us to pick up.
Step 2: With the items donated, we assembled 21 ‘Family Bags’ combining all the foods especially needed in each bag
Step 3: Delivered the assembled ‘Family Bags’ to the Willston center on May 14th to be distributed to local families.
I’m proud of the work our team did to donate 21 bags of food and our market center donated 256 bags! We’re proud of this Keller Williams giving spirit and tradition. The culture here is unmatched!
Are you considering updating your home? Painting is one of the most economical and impactful choices you can make to your home. The following article addresses specific color choices and the associated returns for your efforts – important items to consider when you update your home – especially with an eye to selling it.
Painting your home is a great way to express yourself and let your personality shine through in your living space. The colors you choose for your rooms can really bring them to life in ways that few other changes can. However, a fresh coat of paint can do more than just give your rooms some personality. With the right colors, the paint you choose can even increase the likelihood that your house will sell at a good price when you put it on the market. To maximize this effect, there are a few colors you should consider (and a few you should avoid.)
Picking the Right Color
If you’re looking for a good color to apply throughout the house, consider a light shade of gray or beige. Both of these colors help to liven up rooms by adding just a bit of color but are neutral enough to let each room’s other accents take command. If you want something a bit different, taupe or so-called “greige” colors (mixes of gray and beige) can also work well. Some off-white colors, especially those with hints of brown or other warm shades, can also brighten up your rooms. Many of these colors pair well with white or beige baseboards and trim.
Good Kitchen Colors
If you’re going room by room, the kitchen is a good place to add a bit of darker color. Darker grays and grays mixed with darker blue shades do well in the kitchen; in fact, some reports have shown that homes with a gray-blue shade in the kitchen sell for an average of $1800 more than similar homes with other kitchen shades. Depending on the size of your kitchen and the amount of wall that’s actually visible behind the cabinets and appliances, you may be able to get away with hotter colors such as deep red or dark orange. Just avoid going too bright with whatever color you choose.
Living Room and Bath Colors
The living area and bathroom both benefit from more neutral shades such as beige and gray, but that doesn’t mean you can’t change things up in some cases. Consider the flooring and other fixtures as well as the amount of natural light that comes into the room and look at colors that take advantage of what’s already there. Light green, blue or brown can sometimes work wonderfully, especially if they include hints of gray to keep them from being too bright. You can even choose a bit stronger blues in the bathroom as homebuyers tend to respond well to blue there, just so long as you don’t go for too bright of a shade.
Blue is a popular bedroom color, especially in shades such as cerulean. There are several bold color choices that you can get away with in the bedroom, though. Don’t go crazy with the bedroom colors and avoid anything that’s too bright – but giving the bedroom a splash of color in blue, green or even red or brown can work well so long as it’s not too much of a departure from the rest of the house.
Colors to Avoid
There are, of course, a few colors that you should avoid when painting your walls. Anything too bright or garish should obviously be avoided since it could turn off potential buyers. Black is another color to avoid; not only do many people find it depressing, but it will also be difficult for future homeowners to cover up. Also on the list of colors to avoid? Bright white. You might think that this would give your home a clean look or make it ready for a new homeowner to customize, but bright whites (especially when paired with white trim) often create a clinical look that actually makes buyers less interested in the space.
Making the Choice
If you’re not sure which colors will work best in your home, consider bringing in an interior designer or painter to help you pick the perfect hue. Sign up for a free HomeKeepr account today and you can find the perfect helper for your budget and your sense of style.
The AR Property Group has worked with many interior designers, home staging companies and painting contractors. Please give Ann, Randy and Christine a call for their recommendations and tap in to their experience! We’re never too busy for your referrals!
Is your home ready for the broiling heat of summer? Spend a few hours following this list of simple, yet effective, ways to make your home more energy-efficient. Not only will they keep your home cooler, but they’ll save your appliances from working overtime, lowering your electricity bill as a whole. Learn how to save on your home energy bill in the summer with these summer energy saving tips:
1) Check your air filters – Clogged air filters block airflow and reduce your AC’s blower fan’s ability to circulate the air properly, causing your AC to use more energy.
2) Check Your Return Air Vents– Keep your return air vents clean and make sure they aren’t blocked by curtains or furniture so that airflow is not reduced.
3) Inspect your condenser unit– Turn the system off and give the cooling fins a good clean. Also, make sure to clear fallen branches or weeds that may be blocking it.
4) Install Curtains to Block Sunlight– Pay attention to the sun’s patterns across the house and consider installing insulated or thermal backed drapes to block out extra heat and sunlight.
5) Get Your HVAC System Inspected– Call an HVAC expert to give your system a tune-up. You want to be sure that your system can take the heat!
6) Air seal your home – Air sealing your home ensures that outside air can’t get in, and your cooler conditioned air can’t get out. Expanding foam and caulk are a few materials you can use to properly seal your home. Also, check the weatherstripping on doors and windows.
7) Add insulation to your attic– Attic insulation works as a thermal shield. The better insulation in your attic, the better your living areas are kept cool.
8) HVAC Air Duct Sealing – Your system works best when air can flow unobstructed and without air leaking out. Sealing up your home’s ductwork can increase its performance by 20 to 30 percent. It’s well worth your time!
9) Check your ceiling fan direction – Make sure your ceiling fan is rotating in the direction that makes it blow downwards. In the summer you want it to spin counter-clockwise.
10) Turn up your thermostat – Turn up your thermostat when you leave during the day while sleeping at night. Even a few degrees higher will reduce your energy usage.
The AR Property Group has worked with numerous HVAC companies over the years. Please reach out to Ann, Randy or Christine for contact information. Stay cool!
A recent article that appeared on www.chron.com written by Carole Simm, states: “Wireless technology has revolutionized the real estate industry. Using mobile devices, house buyers can search for property listings anywhere in the world at any time of day or night. Mobile technology offers the advantage of more flexible working practices for real estate agents. It has opened up a whole new world of innovative, interactive marketing platforms, including social networking websites and property apps.”
As wireless technology has become an integral part of our lives and business dealings, Keller Williams has created the Keller Williams Real Estate Search app. This GPS-enabled app allows you to easily search for properties, view local property details with photos, create notes about what you like for each property, share property information with family and friends and much more. Bonus: this app works everywhere. A DC area client moving to Phoenix a few years ago used our app in Arizona to find listings and loved it! Ann has used it in San Diego to explore open houses while on vacation. Often prospective home buyers will search a bit on their own before contacting their REALTOR to move forward on a purchase. This mobile app is the perfect companion to home purchasers, making finding a home to buy or rent a snap. You have access to all homes in the MLS database. Save searches and listings based on your dream home criteria. And if you’re selling your home, with this app, your KW listing agent has another crucial outlet to find home buyers. Your home automatically appears in the app with a stylish photo gallery and elegant listing details to showcase your home whether the buyer is searching at home or on the go.
The KW app is available on both Android and iOS devices and can be downloaded from Google Play or the App Store. Easier still, we can send it directly to you. If you’d like to take advantage of the features our mobile app has to offer, just text Ann, Randy, or Christine and they’ll send you a link!
Our May newsletter is chock full of detailed tips so we thought it would also be a helpful blog post too. Spring has sprung! And it is a great time to get your home ready for summer. Take advantage of cooler weather now to get a jump on home maintenance work so you can go into summer enjoying the fruits of your early labors.
Here’s a checklist of items you might want to put on your spring home maintenance tune-up:
Do you think you’ll need professional help with any of these tasks? Call the AR Property Group for a great referral!
Backstory: Of my mother’s nine siblings, five contracted appendicitis. One sibling died after it was misdiagnosed as stomach flu. Since I heard that story, I’ve carried a loathing of appendicitis. Would I recognize it? Would my doctors? Would I overreact? Would it strike slowly? Quickly? Am I paranoid to worry about it?
In case you too are wondering whether this could happen, maybe this will help you recognize it and act.
As a Realtor I try to time block multiple client meetings, whether over coffee, through listing/buying presentations, every day. One recent Thursday night, I woke up in the middle of the night with a belly ache. I don’t get belly aches often, but this felt different than others I’ve had before. Since I am attuned to Appendicitis my first thought was “maybe this is it!” I ended up going back to sleep and woke up a few more times with the same stomach ache. I had a 10am meeting the next day over breakfast. The belly ache was not severe, but it was “there” and after 2 hours, I squirmed to get out of that chair. Next, I had a 1pm meeting – with lunch! I was feeling a little worse then and the last thing I wanted to do was sit and eat more. Ordering soup and ginger ale, I did my best to keep up my end of the conversation. I don’t drink sodas, so my business partner knew this belly ache was getting to me. The final meeting of the day was showing property from 3-5:00. My discomfort was increasing. There was no specific pain, just a general stomach ache, followed by chills toward the end of the showings. I just wanted to be home and remove the clothes that felt constrictive. The chills worsened. Still vague and non-specific, the belly pain increased. I could not pinpoint the pain location, but I decided to draw the line; if the pain remained sharp in the morning I’d check into the Emergency Room. The pain continued steadily upward; there was no ebb and flow.
I rose, showered, and checked into the ER by 8am on Saturday. (Lesson learned: if you can plan your emergency, 8am on a winter Saturday may be a good time. Sparsely populated and alert staff ready for action.) I answered a few questions, and they took me back to a room. A few minutes later a Physician’s Assistant and Nurse asked me specific questions. Chills and a dull stomach ache accentuated with sharp twinges migrated to the lower right abdomen as classic appendicitis. For the prescribed CT scan I was ordered to drink 1000 ml of “contrast,” which resembled water (huge improvement over contrast from 20 years ago – a blend of water, chalkboard dust, and “berry” flavoring). Within a couple of hours (by 1000) they ran me through the CT scan and confirmed an inflamed appendix. A surgeon appeared shortly thereafter and operated on me by noon. I was done by 2:00.
So if you suspect appendicitis: Any belly ache that persists longer than a day, go to the ER or your Doctor. I waited too long and had to stay in the hospital over night because it had ruptured and toxic seepage required strong antibiotics to prevent infection. Remarkably, if your appendectomy is done before your appendix ruptures, you may be home the same day as surgery! Practically out-patient surgery. Don’t worry, the surgery included general anesthesia, meaning you are not awake and will not remember anything. After an overnight watch in the hospital I was released with a week of antibiotics and a prescription for strong pain medication. I have not needed the pain prescription; OTC Aleve is fine. I am diligent about taking the antibiotic though. Nobody wants a relapse.
Recovery has been quick, but avoid hard exercise for 4-6 weeks. Walking is directed, though take it slow. Avoid bouncing. Ask your family and friends to not make you laugh. It’s horrible. And don’t get me started on coughing. Or sneezing. Take it easy. Walk around the house every few hours. Give yourself permission to get into whatever relaxing position feels good and let yourself heal. Oh, and no driving for 10 days so see if you can arrange help getting from here to there. Good luck and I hope somebody finds this helpful!
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