house price going up

Discussion – How technology affects housing prices?

Considered to be the largest commodity in the world, real estate has quite a notable exception with an estimated $217 trillion valuation.

Technology, with the emergence of the Internet had greatly impact the whole industry benefiting buyers, sellers, and agents. From the good old day’s basic cold calls, print ads, emails, open house visit, etc., we are now moving to a wide variety of social media sites, virtual apps, IoT devices, chatbots, cloud computing, advanced analytics, and blockchain. Thus, there’s huge room for sales, purchases, and prospects.

Not just that, technology has made it easier to get data on quality via user ratings on certain websites. People doesn’t only look for accessibility, pleasant climates, booming economies, and appealing amenities, but also the quality of nearby amenities.

recent study in the Journal of Urban Economics that uses data from Washington D.C. finds that restaurant quality, as measured by Yelp reviews, impacts property values: A doubling of the number of highly rated restaurants (rating > 3.4) within a mile radius of a home is associated with an 11.5% increase in the home’s value.

Information accessibility through technology thus, opens a wide market landscape with specific variables, thus, affecting housing prices.

As the aforementioned study has shown, housing prices increase in areas with the best amenities as the quality of those amenities becomes well known.

Tl; dr;

Technology plays a major role in making it easier for everyone to share and gather digital information in acquiring homes.It helps buyers getting more-realistic view of the property plus, the quality of amenities available on that certain area. The higher the housing demand on that area, the higher the housing value of the homes located nearby.

The housing industry does affects customer decision at the same time, the market value of homes.

The Ever-changing Housing Industry with Technology

smart home

Source: iot.eetimes.com

Traditionally based on three assets, namely land, building and money, the housing sector under the real estate industry has now digital information employed to technologically assess in terms of demographics, government policies, interest rates on certain locations through valuable apps and websites, enabling customers in need of buying or renting homes to deeply monitor housing rates. This is very much useful for the younger generation who will interested in home ownership.

In 2018, CoreLogic together with RTi Research of Norwalk, Conn., conducted an extensive consumer housing sentiment study, combining consumer and property insights. In their findings, potential buyers in the younger millennial demographic have the desire to buy, 40% are extremely or very interested in home ownership.

In fact, 64% say they regularly monitor home values in their local market. However, while, 80% of younger millennials plan to move in the next 4 or 5 years, 73% cite affordability as a barrier to home ownership (far higher than any other age cohort).

“Our consumer research indicates younger millennials want to purchase homes but the majority of them consider affordability a key obstacle,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Less than half of younger millennials who are currently renting feel confident they will qualify for a mortgage, especially in such a competitive environment.”

Rentals market

In talking about home value, online platforms such as Airbnb claimed that they bring more money to cities in both rental fees and the money that renters spend during their stays.The company also notes that roughly three-quarters of its listings aren’t in traditional tourist neighbourhoods, which means that money is going to communities typically ignored by the hospitality industry. Knowing that the company offers over 5 million properties, in over 85,000 cities across the world, and its market valuation exceeds $30 billion.

There is no further evidence on how they came to that conclusion.

Then on, a working paper has been published centering about the effects of home sharing on house prices and rents, collecting data from 3 sources:

  • consumer-facing information, from Airbnb, about the complete set of Airbnb properties in the U.S. (there are more than 1 million) and the hosts who offer them;
  • zip code–level information, from Zillow, about rental rates and housing prices in the U.S. real estate market; and
  • zip code–level data from the American Community Survey, an ongoing survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, including median household incomes, populations, employment rates, and education levels. We combined these different sources of information in order to study the impact of Airbnb on the housing market.

Investigation results show that in aggregate, the growth in home-sharing through Airbnb contributes to about 1/5 of the average annual increase in U.S. rents and about 1/7 of the average annual increase in U.S. housing prices. By contrast, annual zip code demographic changes and general city trends contribute about 3/4 of the total rent growth and about 3/4 of the total housing price growth.

Summary

Technology impact in the housing industry has underlying economics.

Evidences in the aforementioned study about Airbnb show that the platform affects the housing market through the reallocation of housing stock. And by looking at housing vacancies, Airbnb supplies two things: it positively correlates with the share of homes that are vacant for seasonal or recreational use and negatively correlates with the share of homes in the market for long-term rentals.

By Tuan Nguyen

monopoly logo

Game review – How to gain advantages in Monopoly

Recently I have been sucked into the world of Monopoly. It is certainly a great game that teaches you about cash buffer and strategic thinking.

By playing for a while, I gain experiences and notice certain things that may help a player increases his or her chances to win. Crossing references with some articles on the internet, I decided to write down what I learned after spending quite a bit of time playing and “researching”.

If you want to buy the game, you can buy it here.

Tl; dr;

There are multiple tricks that you can utilize to make you the winner easier than other players who don’t know how to play systematically. Some of them includes:

  • Prioritize to monopolize orange and red streets, but if you can’t get them, brown and blue streets are not a bad investment.
  • In late game, stay in jail as long as possible; especially if your opponents have monopoly.
  • Stations are cash cows
  • Avoid paying full price for Utilities.
  • Keep a cash reserve for unexpected payments, e.g. taxes.
  • Make auctions work in your favour.

Monopolize orange and red streets

Monopoly heat map

Source: Inverse.com

The image above is the heat map of a monopoly board. We can easily see that there is a significant landing rate around Free Parking area. And guess what streets are around that place? Orange and red streets!

There are 2 reasons why this happens.

  • The most common roll of 2 die are 7 and 8, meaning if a player moves from Jail, they are most likely to land on the 2 red squares.
  • The Jail square is special, since there are quite a big chance that you will end up in jail, including visiting, landing on “Go to Jail” square, getting the chance card.

As a conclusion, if you can, try to buy all the orange ones.

Stay in jail for as long as possible in late game

monopoly jail tile

Source: thesprucecrafts.com

When players start building buildings and/or hotels, it’s not a bad idea to stay in jail for as long as you can, which are 3 turns. Unless you are unlucky enough to roll a double. This brings you 2 benefits:

  • You don’t need to pay your opponents rents, or pay taxes when you’re stuck in jail.
  • If you’re lucky, other players land on your tiles, and you can get income without doing anything.

Note that this only benefits you in middle-late game. In the early game, if you’re unlucky and land on jail tile, just pay $100 to get out of it. Your goal is to accumulate as many properties as you can at the beginning of the game. This gets you leverage to negotiate with other players later on.

Stations are cash cows

monopoly stations

Source: lifedeathprizes.com

Looking at the heat map above, Station tiles have a higher visiting chance than its adjacent tiles. And owning multiple station tiles increases the fee that someone needs to pay you if they land on the station. As a result, it’s a good investment if you can buy the stations early on.

But Utilities are not!!!

monopoly utilities

Source: boardgames.stackexchange.com

According to the heatmap, Electricity and Water tiles are not as attractive as it might seem. There are only 3% chance that a player lands on the tiles in a full game of 6 players. And what does it return? Considering you own both utilities, your income ranges from $20 to $120, which is a very wide range of unstable income.

At least, don’t buy utilities at the full price. Let’s just throw an auction to drain other people’s cash reserves.

Keep a healthy cash reserves

In Monopoly, there are multiple “incidents” where you need to spend your money on. From paying taxes to a random tax assessment, from paying for other player’s birthday, to paying fees to doctors. It is in your best interest to keep a good money in reserves for these situations. Somewhere around $100 should be enough.

Make auctions, not war

Monopoly auction

Source: wikihow.com

In the early game, auctions can really help you deplete other player’s bank account. If you land on a tile that you don’t want to own at that point, consider putting it up for auction. This will help you spy on other player’s strategy, as well as make them spend on something that they haven’t accounted for.

E.g. Pall Mall street has the tag price of $140. If you don’t want to buy it at the price as is, you can put it up for auction. There are only a few outcomes:

  • You buy it for less than $140, considering noone else paying more than what you’re willing to pay.
  • Someone else is paying for it, which means they will have less cash to pay for their own properties later.

If you have the highest amount of cash in the game, ALWAYS putting an empty property for auction, since it’s much easier to get it under tag price in that situation.

Summary

Monopoly is a great game that simplify the Real Estate business down to simple rules. You can play this game virtually anywhere with the game on the App Store, or playing with friends. This game can potentially eat up a lot of time, so consider playing it with housemates, or have a room to preserve the state of the game so you can continue on the game later on.

I believe that if you are a property investor, monopoly is a game that you should have in your house. With that being said, I found an affordable version of the game on Amazon.

By Tuan Nguyen

solar panels under the sun

Discussion – Are solar panels good investment?

Countless reports say that making solar panels as a source of energy can save you costs on bills since you’ll use less from your energy supplier.

Solar panels are designed to absorb the sun’s rays as source of energy to generate electricity and heating.

The concept of solar panels dates back to 1839, when a young physicist working in France named, Edmond Becquerel, observed and discovered the photovoltaic effect. It is a process that produces a voltage or electric current when exposed to light or radiant energy.

With the issues regarding climate change, are solar panels considered a good investment?

Tl; dr;

Solar panels crowned upon rooftops, fields, or on any structure, offers a promising benefits for alternative energy (solar energy).

The equipment offers lower energy costs (depends upon the amount of solar energy produced in various conditions and the way in which utilities charge for electricity).

It is one of rapidly developing energy source in many countries across the globe.

They are easy to install and has low maintenance without any waste or pollution.

Overview on Solar Panels

solar panel structure

Source: SUNPOWER

Made out of photovoltaic cells (that’s why generating electricity through solar panels is also called solar PV), solar panels convert the sun’s energy to electricity.

The photovoltaic cells are sandwiched between layers of semi-conducting materials such as silicone (same stuff used in microelectronics). Each layer has different electronic properties that energize when hit by photons from sunlight, creating an electric field – also known as photoelectric effect.

The effect creates the current needed to produce electricity.

As solar panels generate a direct current (DC) of electricity, it is then passed on through an inverter to convert it into an alternating current (AC), which can then be funnelled into the electric grid or be used by homes and business establishments the solar panels are attached to.

Advantages

Using solar panels is good because,

  • It is a renewable energy source.Solar panels use solar energy that’s why it’s a 100% clean, abundant, and renewable source of energy. They don’t produce any pollution as contrasted with commercial electricity production processes that largely rely on oil, coal, and natural gas – they are commonly produced from fossil fuels and are responsible for global warming.
  • You have total control over electricity. Adding a home battery unity by residential solar panels can store enough electricity to power homes through peak usage hours, thereby giving households the energy independence.
  • You can save on energy costs. Solar panels offer you a year-round efficiency and savings since the sun emits energy through clear and cloudy skies and even in colder, cloudy climates. Some solar panels can actually generate more electricity than your home consumes, depending on their size, efficiency and orientation – reducing your monthly electric bill to zero.
  • It qualifies you for tax breaks. Grants, tax incentives, and rebate programs are available to help you with the initial costs, thus, increasing the affordability of solar panels.
  • Its costs significantly dropped. In recent years, the cost of solar have fallen dramatically. Since there are no moving parts to dismantle, you’ll save money on maintenance as well.

Limitations

The downsides will be,

  • Using a lot of space. If you want to produce more electricity, you’ll need more solar panels to collect much sunlight. Solar PV panels commonly require a lot of space and some roofs aren’t big enough to fit the number of solar panels that you would like to have. You may install some of the panels in your yard but make sure they can still have access to sunlight.
  • Weather dependence. Though solar energy can still be collected during cloudy and rainy days, solar panels are largely dependent on sunlight that’s why their efficiency drops.
  • High initial costs. Although tax breaks exist, still the initial costs for purchasing is fairly high. That includes paying for materials such as solar panels, inverter, batteries, wiring, and for the installation as well.
  • Expensive large batteries for solar energy storage. Solar energy should be used right away or it can be stored in large batteries. These batteries can be charged during the day in order for the energy to be used by night. But they are quite expensive.

Are Solar Panels worth investing?

At this point, it really depends upon your judgement as to whether or not installing solar panels at your homes and business establishments can help you save on electrical bills.

Surely, solar panels are economically and environmentally friendly but is it a good investment?

Consider these questions for yourself:

  • Is it sunny where I live?
  • How much am I paying for electricity costs?
  • How much does a solar panel system cost?
  • How will I finance such a system?
  • Are there any government implemented home solar financial credits or incentives?
  • Will these systems work on my roof?

If all answers boils down to a positive light, then you are qualified to proceed in arranging your decision in investing with solar panels systems.

Summary

In today’s climate change issues, many are now opting from commercially produced electricity to solar panels.

Solar panels are reliable and renewable source of energy. They have the ability to live grid free if all power generated provides enough for the home/building. Reduced dependence on fossil fuels and can be installed anywhere (i.e. fields or rooftops).

By Tuan Nguyen

smart home concept

Discussion – Does smart home make our life easier?

From mere ideas to science fiction films, gone are the days imagining of what automated or smart living actually is.

The technology we seek to experience is now right in front of us through the fulfilment of smart home.

Smart home technology is often referred to as house automation or domotics (derived from the Latin word “domus” which means home), allowing homeowners to control house devices through applications using their smart phones or any networking device.

As part of the popular Internet of Things (IoT), the technology also allows smart home systems and devices operate together, sharing consumer usage data among themselves and even automating actions based on the homeowners’ preferences/commands.

Tl; dr;

Smart homes provides greater security, convenience, comfort, and energy efficiency, making every childhood fantasy into a reality.

Consider making your doors lock automatically whenever you leave the house and open them when you return, or having all of your appliances (coffeemaker, alarm, lights, heater, microwave oven, television, etc.) or even your car be connected and communicate at the same time to accomplish some tasks for you. Just use your smartphone or any networked device.

These amazing smart home features provide immense benefits for the elderly, handicapped, and busy-people.

Smart living with smart homes

smart home components

Source: W.E. Brown, Inc.

Maintaining home is NOT an easy task. There are a lot of tasks to that require much time and effort to accomplish.

To make our lives easier, convenient, and more efficient, smart home systems are created.

Gartner, Inc. recently, forecasts that 20.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by 2020, these includes smart home products at that sense.

Components of a smart home

Smart homes can integrate a huge part in your daily living:

  • Weight management. With smart scales, you can regulate your weight and general fitness. These smart scales can connect and communicate with other apps/devices to monitor your weight loss/gain with comprehensive information and notification about your fitness progress.
  • Centralized heating systems. Through syncing apps, you can now control your home’s heating and water system. Location alerts enable you to know if you’ve left the heating system when you’re already away from home and easily turn off its switch through the app.
  • Smart surveillance. If you are always away from home arranging some errands or on a holiday vacation, you can use applications in your phone connected to your smart home cameras to keep your belongings safe.
  • Smart lighting. This essential piece using mobile applications gives you a complete control of your house lighting even when you are away from home and schedule them to turn on/off accordingly to pretend that you are at home.
  • Smart cookers. Cooking can be hectic and needs prior planning whenever there are events or a family-get-together. With smart cooking, you can leave your food unattended in the cooker because you can control it or time it whenever you are away. So it is energy efficient and time convenient.
  • Smart garage. Using your smartphone, you can open and close your garage doors.
  • Smart doorbells. Doorbells with built-in video cameras shows you inside who’s knocking.

Summary

Smart homes provide better way for you to do and manage day to day tasks. From just switching lights on/off, managing your fitness goals, monitoring for safety, and even saving costs on utility bills, everything is far beyond what we think of a smart home can do with just a powerful control from your smartphone or any networked devices.

By Tuan Nguyen

living room design

Discussion – How technology changes the way we do interior design?

Technology is continuously advancing and evolving in the most incredible way. In just a snip of a finger, everything around us change. Our lives depend on it and simply we can’t live with it.

In the present, consumers, as well as, designers have been utilizing technology in creating new home spaces or designing home and furniture pieces, in their own imagination and creative palette incorporating valuable design elements and principles. This can be helpful when we design our dream home, or working on improving a rental property. That is, if we want to pursuit property investment.

With technology, you can simply draft fast and re-imagine your dream masterpiece.

tapglance app

Photo courtesy of TapGlance Interior Design App

Tl; dr;

Designing homes or even furniture pieces are traditionally costly, timely, and requires a professional interior designer to achieve it. But with the continuous advancement of technology, it is radically altering our interiors with design applications that better visualize of what we tend to achieve and attain when designing homes. It enables us to eliminate high costs and headaches in regards to drafting and visualizing our dream space.

How technology influences interior design?

interior design example

Source: Falmouth University

With technology, designers as well as consumers, learn to evolve and adapt to different demands and norms for homes and offices around the globe. It changes people in how they remodel and update their homes, trying to capture every aspect of design in their own hands.

Be surprised just as how technology impact interior design:

  • Augmented Reality (AR). It is the best tool that helps designers to visualize rooms with 3D renderings of items and furnishings embedded on top of an existing scene through a device’s camera. Just consider how IKEA’s AR app provides visual aid with accurate renderings. It contains 98% close to life 3D Models.
  • Green Homes. Environmental concerns have been on the rise these days, that’s why technology developed innovations of homes that are simply environment friendly. Consider having a home made from bamboo with natural lighting or with solar panels and eco water heaters.
  • Smart Homes. Users are now opting to install smart home features in their home. Consider voice activated accessories such as Google Home and Amazon’s Echo control your room’s lighting, heating and security locks in just one command. You and the designers will be much particular in having spaces dedicated for smart switches and thermostats accessible by hand or voice.
  • Tiny House. Due to the rapid population in cities, rising house prices and living costs, most people would just like to have cozy tiny houses. With technology, the designers can simply manipulate the designs of homes to fit the needs and wants of their clients, or simply you having to redesign your space to reach your tiny house goals. Consider having less than 37 square meter home that is much appealing and fully functioning.
  • Virtual Reality (VR). Have been in the minds of gamers and dreamers for long, VR is simply unfathomable. Imagine walking through a digitalized room with your full design around. You can get through your personalized interior space design by wearing head mounted glasses and headsets to capture a full interactive experience.
  • 3D Printers. Interior designers use 3D printing to build fast prototypes of their designs for clients to sample and provide feedback, as well as, state-of-the-art constructions waiting to be realized not just in dreams. It is easy to design and produce.

Summary

Technology just simply changes everything especially in interior designing.

Interior designers and ordinary consumers can simply visualize as to how their interiors should be.

With technology you can visualize rooms with 3D renderings of items and furnishings embedded on top of an existing scene, innovate homes that are environment friendly, employ smart devices in complementing interior corners, redesign tiny house space that are appealing and fully functioning, immerse in your fully personalized digitally designed room, and build fast prototypes of interiors and constructions.

By Tuan Nguyen