A new product is on the line that provides security, automation, and and environmental monitoring - all with one little device, and an app on your phone.

"Piper" is the smart technology that allows you to interact with your home, no matter how far you are from it.  (The dream when it comes to showing and staging your home.)  Homes installed with Piper are fully accessible from afar, and fully responsive to the environmental changes around it. 

Want to turn on the lights, even if you aren't there?  No problem.

With Piper's built in "Z-Wave" functionality (an outlet adapter), you can turn lights, air conditioners, fans, and more, on and off from afar.  This is exceptionally useful for you when you're showing your home, as you don't have to leave your lights switched on for potential buyers, or have your real estate agent arrive early to do so.  With Piper, you're in control.

Want to see what's going on in your home while you're not there?  Flip on the app.

Buying a Home Without RepresentationThere was a time when buying a home was as convoluted as walking into an real estate office and looking through their "inventory" - that is, the properties that the agents specifically in that office had listed for sale.  If you wanted to see a house that wasn't listed by that office, you had to go to the corresponding listing office, and they could tell you the details and sell you the home.

As a buyer, you generally didn't travel this circuit with your "own" agent, you relied on the listing agent to help you.  Here's the issue, or at least, the biggest issue: The brokerage is obligated to the sellers to get the most money possible on the sale of their home, to represent their best interest - not yours.  The running around has been reduced, but the obligation to the represented parties remains the same!

When a home seller hires an agent to sell the home, the agent has a fiduciary (read: legal) responsibility to his or her clients' best interests. The agent must protect their private information and motivations, market and show the home, etc, but he is also responsible for bringing the highest price the market will bear. All of the agent's research, marketing, and negotiation are with his/her clients needs in mind.

A Real-Estate Agent is A Trained Negotiator

Whether or not you feel well versed in the ins and outs of real estate, having a real-estate agent there to fight your battles for you can pay HUGE dividends in the end.

A Realtor's job is to act as a sort of buffer between the two negotiating parties, diffusing what is almost always an exceptionally emotional process for sellers and buyers alike. In fact, as large-scale transactions go between consumers, this one is downright unique. In these sort of situations, it is your Realtor's job to specifically negotiate the facts, and present your interests in the best possible way, and to eliminate the emotion from the discussion.  This is something a principal to the transaction typically can't do on their own.

A Real-Estate Agent Knows the Market and Will Save You Money

The movement of mortgage rates is a mystery to some, and partially understood by others.  Ultimately, there are a myriad of moving parts.

Here are six of the major factors that contribute to driving mortgage rates.  Thanks to our friend Michael Poland, a great mortgage Banker at PHH Home Loans, and Vantage Production, LLC for supplying the infographic.

Is it Better to Rent or Buy in Chicago?Chicagoland residents often wonder if it is better to rent or better to buy a home.  According to the latest information from Trulia, it still remains far cheaper to buy a home rather than rent one across most of the country, and certainly, overwhelmingly, in the city of Chicago.

Here are some compelling statistics that CNN provided on the matter.

The % that Chicago residents saved buying vs. renting: 47%

Median home price: 170,000

Median rent: $1,700

With a 47% savings percentage, Chicago is far and away a buyers market!.

On a national scale, Chicago rents are well above national levels.  They have climbed over 7% in the last 12 months alone.  This is particularly significant; an the national rent average has been steadily climbing as well:

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