Maria DiCarlo - Wakefield, MA Real Estate, Reading, MA Real Estate


Home automation is a budding industry. From tiny buttons to order more laundry detergent, all the way up to fully-integrated home security systems that you can run from your smartphone at work, home automation has never been more comprehensive.

Deciding which, if any, home automation systems are right for you can be difficult. As new technologies are constantly being manufactured, you’ll want to buy a product that will last. It isn’t uncommon for a product in a new industry to become obsolete just a year after purchase.

In this article, we’ll help you understand the latest home automation tech and give you some advice on which ones are likely to remain useful in the coming years.

The Amazon Dash

Amazon Dash buttons are a simple but genius idea. It’s a button that you can fix to your washing machine, or the inside of your pantry cabinet. The buttons are available for a number of common household items that you won’t want to run out. Things like trash bags, dish soap, laundry detergent, coffee, bottled water, and more.

The Dash connects to your wifi and the battery can last up to 1,000 presses so you won’t have to worry about recharging. The other benefit is that you can customize which product the button orders. So if your cat only likes a specific flavor of Meow Mix, they’ve got you covered.

One downfall of the Dash button is that its function can easily be replaced by a home assistant like the Amazon Echo or the Google Home. However, if you don’t care for all of the added features of a home assistant, the Dash buttons might be a good option for you.

Home Assistants

The latest devices in home automation are assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Home. Since these products are new and undergoing rapid innovations, it’s likely that we’ll see several models from different manufacturers in coming years. It’s rumored that Apple is also entering the fray with their own home assistant device.

Home assistants generally come in the shape of a small speaker that you can place in your living room. They are voice activated and will begin listening if you say the magic words (“OK Google” or “Alexa” in the case of the Alexa-powered Amazon Echo).

These products can set alarms, control lights, order products, search the internet, give you directions, play music, read the news, and more.

Smart home security

Security systems have come a long way in the last few years. When you once had to approach your security keypad to set alarms, you can now do it right from your smartphone.

Also new to these devices is the full integrated of other electronic systems in your home. You can control the thermostat, lights, door locks, and more right from an app on your phone.

There are several designs on the market which has made them less expensive and more accessible to the average consumer. That also means there are several online reviews comparing the different systems which make it easier to do your research to find the best system for you.

If you don’t want a full system, there are other smart security products that you can buy à la carte. These include smart locks that you can unlock with your phone, or by using a security PIN.


Want to list your house in the not-too-distant future? Ultimately, your house's curb appeal may have far-flung effects on your ability to sell your residence.

In most instances, a house with a dazzling front lawn is likely to make a distinct impression on potential buyers. This home may prove to be more popular than similar residences that are available, and as such, sell at or above its initial asking price.

On the other hand, a home with a messy, cluttered front lawn is unlikely to impress potential buyers. In fact, the front lawn may detract from the home's value, making it tough for a seller to maximize his or her earnings.

When it comes to enhancing your house's front lawn, it may be a good idea to hire a professional landscaper. Because if you have a professional landscaper at your disposal, you can get the assistance that you need to rejuvenate the front lawn of your home and enhance your residence's curb appeal.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you find the ideal professional landscaper before you list your house.

1. Shop Around

Many top-notch professional landscapers are available in cities and towns nationwide. If you evaluate assorted professional landscapers in your area, you may be better equipped than ever before to make an informed hiring decision.

Remember, as a home seller, it is important to do everything possible to enhance your house's curb appeal. And if you dedicate the necessary time and resources to find the right professional landscaper before you list your residence, you can improve your house's curb appeal and boost the likelihood of a fast, profitable home selling experience.

2. Ask Questions

A professional landscaper typically is happy to respond to your questions. Thus, you should not hesitate to ask lots of questions to a variety of local professional landscapers to ensure that you can find the right landscaper to fulfill your requests.

Don't forget to discuss your home improvement goals with various professional landscapers too. That way, you can compare and contrast myriad professional landscapers and hire a landscaper who can help you achieve the best-possible home improvement results.

3. Review Client Feedback

Client feedback about professional landscapers usually is readily available, particularly for landscapers who have completed a wide range of successful projects in the past. Therefore, you should search far and wide for client feedback to find a professional landscaper who can match or exceed your expectations.

A simple web search of a professional landscaper may provide you with access to client feedback. You also can request client referrals directly from a professional landscaper to learn what it's like to work with a particular landscaper before you finalize your hiring decision.

Lastly, if you need extra assistance as you search for a professional landscaper, you may want to consult with a real estate agent as well. A real estate agent can put you in touch with first-rate professional landscapers in your area and ensure that you can bolster your house's curb appeal before you list your residence.


We all love to put off our household chores until the last minute. The secret to cleaning is to actually clean more often for less time. Just taking a few minutes out of each day can save your house form being a mess and save you hours of time scrubbing. Take a look at some of these cleaning tips that will become shortcuts for you to clean your home. Once you get into the habit, it will be much easy in the long term. 


Clean Up Spills Immediately


Waiting to clean up spills is simply creating a nightmare for yourself later in the week. Stains will be much tougher to remove the longer they sit there. Everywhere from kitchen countertops to the bathroom sink should be wiped down frequently, especially when something spills. Baking soda, vinegar and even simple dish soap are great tools to help lift various stains and return surfaces to like-new. 


Spot Clean


Without full on scrubbing everything down, from time to time you should spot clean areas of your home like refrigerator door handles, door knobs and cabinet doors. This way, when you go for a deeper cleaning, it will take less time.


Use Door Mats


This tip sounds oh so simple but can make a huge difference in how clean your home is. Getting a good doormat can help to clean up dirt and debris from the shoes of people who are entering your home. Keep a mat on both sides of the door at entryways, and this can help reduce the need for frequent vacuuming throughout the home. 


Start At The Entryway


A tidy entrance is so welcoming to guests. Aside from quick cleaning touch-ups, you can add a few things to the entryway to make it even more inviting. Make sure that the entry to your home is presentable. Add some plants to help improve the appeal of your home.  


Make Sure There’s Clear Paths Throughout The Home


Inside of the house, make sure that you have clear paths everywhere with nothing in the way. You don’t want a lot boxes, clothes, or furniture in the way of paths where people walk. Clutter can also pose a safety hazard, causing people to trip. 


Put Everything Away


Done right, everything in your home will have a place to go. If you don’t have enough storage, your quick clean-ups are a good time to recognize this, so you can set aside a time for more serious organizing. The more things that you have out, the more clutter your home will accumulate. Each day, remember to put things away. You’ll need to accessorize with practical things like shoe racks, baskets for keys and containers for utensils in the kitchen.


Keeping up with household chores and maintenance is difficult, especially when juggling them along with a full-time job or childcare. Luckily help is likely sitting right in your pocket or pocketbook.

Smartphone apps for organization and productivity have come a long way in a few short years. With features like scheduled reminders, syncing between devices, and sharing with family and friends, it has never been easier to use your phone to help you keep up with household tasks.

There is one problem, however--there are hundreds of apps to choose from.

How can you find the right app in the App Store (or Google Play for Android users) without wasting hours downloading and trying out each one?

We’ve done the legwork for you. In today’s article we’re going to cover the best productivity apps to help you out around the house with things like cleaning, maintenance, and everyday tasks.

1. Wunderlist

Wunderlist is a productivity app that lets you create, share, and sync between multiple devices. It’s good for people who bounce around between using their phone, iPad, or laptop, or even smart watches.

In Wunderlist you’re able to create deadlines and automatic reminders. This is great for remember things like bringing the garbage bin out, or cleaning tasks that you only do once a month or so, like cleaning windows.

Another great feature that Wunderlist uses are subtasks. Say you want to clean the bathroom on Tuesday. To make sure you remember everything, you can add subtasks for things like “clean the bathtub,” “scrub the toilet,” “mop the floor,” etc.

2. Chorma

Chorma is a great app to motivate everyone in the family involved in household maintenance. It lets you create rewards for each user. As users perform chores and check them off, they’ll earn points. Once they get a certain number of points, you’ll be notified and they can earn their reward.

Things like a new book or video game, or a trip out for ice cream are all great motivators for getting kids to complete chores.

3. Todoist

Todoist is much like Wunderlist in that it allows you to create, manage, sync and share tasks. However, it goes a step further when it comes to creating teams. If you live in a big household and want to split up chores, creating teams could prove to be helpful.

Todoist also incorporates a simplistic and elegant interface that is easy to navigate. Plus, at the end of the day you get to see how many tasks you completed.

4. Hours

Hours is first and foremost a time tracking app. If you’re the type of person who needs to constantly know where their time is going, Hours is the best app for you. Once you start a task, simply press the clock button and you’ll begin tracking time. This is a great app for people who work from home or anyone trying to control how much time they spend on each task.

A great feature incorporated within Hours are the detailed reports. They’ll tell you how much time you spend on each task in the form of simple charts and graphs. If you have a maintenance or home improvement project that you’re working on and want to spend at least an hour each evening, Hours will let you know if you’re meeting your goal.


Ready to sell your condo? As a first-time condo seller, it sometimes can be tough to streamline the process of finding interested property buyers and getting the best price for your residence.

Fortunately, we're here to help you simplify the process of selling your condo.

Here are three tips that every first-time condo seller needs to know.

1. Check Out the Prices of Comparable Condos

When you price your condo, it is important to set realistic expectations from the get-go. And if you ask too much for your property, it may linger on the real estate market for an extended period of time.

On the other hand, an informed condo seller will have real estate market data that he or she can use to gain an advantage over the competition.

How does your condo stack up against similar properties? Perform an in-depth assessment of the competition, and you'll be able to price your condo accordingly.

Check out the prices of recently sold and currently available condos. By doing so, you can better understand how to price your condo competitively.

Also, spend some time performing assorted condo interior and exterior repairs before you add your property to the real estate market. This will allow you to boost your condo's appearance both inside and out and make your property an appealing choice to condo buyers.

2. Conduct a Property Appraisal

Hire a property appraiser to inspect your condo. That way, you can receive expert insights into your condo's strengths and weaknesses.

During a condo evaluation, a property appraiser will review all aspects of a property. He or she then will provide you with an in-depth report that you can use to understand potential problem areas with your condo.

A property appraisal is a valuable learning opportunity, and you should try to make the most of it.

Choose a property appraiser with condo experience. This professional will be able to take a close look at your condo and help you prioritize potential repairs.

In addition, review a property appraiser's findings closely. This information will help you determine the best ways to enhance your condo and ensure it can stand out from the competition.

3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to selling your condo, it is always a good idea to work with a real estate agent.

Hiring a real estate agent with condo experience is a must, particularly for a first-time condo seller. This real estate professional will teach you about the ins and outs of the housing market and help you promote your condo to the right groups of property buyers.

A real estate agent will set up condo showings and open houses and negotiate with condo buyers on your behalf. Plus, he or she will offer honest, unbiased condo selling recommendations to help you get the best price for your property.

Don't leave anything to chance as you get ready to sell your condo. Take advantage of the aforementioned tips, and you can accelerate the process of selling your condo.




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