Smart Home Pros and Cons

*The following excerpt and associated images above are not owned by me or anyone associated with Celebrity Sleuth or its’ subsidiaries or affiliates.



  • If you want to quickly get started with a smart home, buying an Echo product is your best bet.
  • Amazon’s Echo products are easy to set up and plug in anywhere that you need to summon Alexa.
  • At $50, Echo Dot, the smaller speaker, is one of the cheapest smart home controllers in the market.
  • Alexa has more than 10,000 Skills, or third-party capabilities, making it the most broadly supported smart home hub.
  • The smartphone apps for setting up Echo products work with Apple and Android devices.


  • Amazon’s Alexa app for iPhones and Android phones, required for setting up some smart home products, can be clunky.
  • Alexa sometimes has difficulty responding to what you are asking it to do.
  • The speakers on Echo products are generally mediocre.
  • You can’t trigger Alexa by speaking to a smartphone; you have to talk to the speaker itself.
  • In its privacy policy, Amazon says it takes no responsibility for third-party products that work with Alexa. In other words, the onus is on you to find out what third-party home accessory companies can do with the data they collect from you.



  • Google’s Home speaker and smartphones running newer versions of Android include Assistant.
  • At $130, Google Home costs $50 less than Amazon’s standard Echo speaker.
  • In terms of artificial intelligence, Assistant is generally smarter than Alexa and Siri because it is powered by the brains of Google search, meaning you can ask a broader array of questions and are more likely get a correct response.


  • You summon Assistant by saying “O.K., Google,” which gets annoying.
  • There are far more smart home products supporting Alexa than Google’s Assistant.
  • Google Home’s audio quality is just mediocre.
  • While the Assistant is slightly smarter than other virtual assistants, it is still flawed and has trouble responding to some requests appropriately.
  • Google’s privacy policy on the data it collects with Google Home is vague. It says: “Google collects data that’s meant to make our services faster, smarter, more relevant and more useful to you.”



  • With privacy in mind, Apple worked directly with home accessory makers to ensure that the data transferred between accessories and Apple devices is secure and encrypted.
  • The integration of Apple’s HomeKit into its mobile devices makes it much easier to set up Siri with home accessories.


  • Partly because of Apple’s stringent privacy requirements, it has taken longer for smart home accessories supporting Siri to reach the market, meaning there are fewer available.
  • Siri sometimes has trouble understanding what you are asking it to do.
  • Siri is exclusive to Apple products.


After you pick your virtual assistant, you’ll be able to choose a piece of hardware that will become your primary smart home controller.

  • Amazon’s Alexa: Echo Dot, Echo, and Echo Show
  • Google’s Assistant: Google Home, Newer Android Smartphones
  • Apple’s Siri: iPhones, iPads and Apple Watch

The related reading below will help to guide your decision, but the cost will likely play a factor, along with your need for a solid set of speakers or desire to have an additional device in your home in the first place. Then, the fun begins. With your virtual assistant, you can set up your home a number of ways to make it “smarter.” Here’s a rundown of the different assistants and some products that work well with them.

Editorial Comment

Technology and the benefits to our society as a whole are deeply ensconced in our daily lives. Walking on any city street around the world, people can be seen fixated on their device (problematic when driving or walking the streets). We have fixated on our devices, almost extreme societal behavior, caution is required in relation to the internet and smart home-based devices.

We are inexorably joined at the hip to our devices, we have all heard the horror stories of hacked laptops used as spy cameras, etc. Although I advise caution, I believe the inevitable integration of technology in our lives is a net positive. We will surely benefit from technological advancements, as such, we should be able to accept the benefits but also regard caveat emptor or as commonly relayed “buyer beware”. Tech will benefit us but educate yourself, you will be empowered.

Racial disparity in home values

1960’s era Civil Rights advocates march for equal housing

Following is a direct quote from an article on the website, creative credit for this excerpt is entirely theirs

“Homeownership lies at the heart of the American Dream, representing success, opportunity, and wealth. However, for many of its citizens, America deferred that dream. For much of the 20th century, the devaluing of black lives led to segregation and racist federal housing policy through redlining that shut out chances for black people to purchase homes and build wealth, making it more difficult to start and invest in businesses and afford college tuition. Still, homeownership remains a beacon of hope for all people to gain access to the middle class. Though homeownership rates vary considerably between whites and people of color, it’s typically the largest asset among all people.”

“If we can detect how much racism depletes wealth from black homeowners, we can begin to address bigotry principally by giving black homeowners and policymakers a target price for redress. Laws have changed, but the value of assets—buildings, schools, leadership, and the land itself—are inextricably linked to the perceptions of black people. And those negative perceptions persist.”

“Through the prism of the real estate market and homeownership in black neighborhoods, this report attempts to address the question: What is the cost of racial bias? This report seeks to understand how much money majority-black communities are losing in the housing market stemming from racial bias, finding that owner-occupied homes in black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 per home on average, amounting to $156 billion in cumulative losses.”

Selling Sleuth Commentary

My assessment of this dampening of the American dream for African-Americans is one of deep resentment towards those who devalue our fellow Americans and their properties. As the most prosperous economy in the history of the world, this is a circumstance which cannot be allowed to endure. Our responsibility as Realtors is to do everything possible, as educated professionals, to ensure right and proper conduct replaces the archaic, racist bigotry of the past.

When you work with Team Bianco, you will receive excellent professionalism, courteous and respectful counsel, and knowledge above and beyond the industry standard. The Berkshire Hathaway name carries with it the expectation of superior service in all transactions, be they sales, purchases or rentals. We are ready to help at the drop of a hat, give us a call today!

For those in the know

Hello again Selling Sleuth followers! Here is a snapshot of the housing market statistics as provided by the NAR (National Association of REALTORS) for your use: 

October 2018 Housing Snapshot

We at the Selling Sleuth are committed to providing real-estate buyers, sellers, and agents with timely data disseminated rapidly to our readers. As licensed professionals ourselves, we are bound by our oath to provide honest advice and consent to our clients and fellow agents, even those working for competitors of BHHS Fox & Roach Realtors. 

If you are a buyer or seller seeking competent, professional representation in any transaction, contact our associates at Team Bianco. We are available daily to provide rapid, reliable feedback that exceeds your expectations!

Historic Hockessin

We, as residents of Hockessin, may indeed be blissfully unaware of the historical significance of our fine village. During the Revolutionary War, the Daniel Nichols Estate was to serve a role in the Battle of the Brandywine. Before waxing patriotic about our impact for the Continental Army, you should know (wait for it) the British forces operated in force from Hockessin! 

Following is a direct quote from the website, creative credit for the following excerpt is solely theirs:

“Before discussing the Nichols property, there is a map to consider. It comes from Major John André, an aide to General Howe who sketched several encampments during the campaign. This map shows the encampment at New Garden, as he labels it, on September 8, 1777. It is oriented north to south, which is not the easiest way to read it but is the easiest way to understand it. The map was a done in a few hours, and probably is not true to scale along its entire length. Simply judging by how units are represented, the south seems stretched and the north seems compressed.”

“Near the top of the map is the notation for Head Quarters. Along this road to the south, almost all of the British and Hessian units are identified, as are the quarters of Generals Cornwallis, Agnew, and Grey. Knowing the location of Nichols’ house would clearly identify this road and the location of the encampment on September 8 and 9. Further, identifying this road would let us approximate the location of individual units on a modern map. Nichols is the key that unlocks this map.”

We, as residents of Hockessin, DE thrive in a prosperous area of New Castle County with deep historical roots. We can all gain a depth and breadth of pride in living our fine village of Hockessin, DE. Remember when you visit Team Bianco at our office located at 88 Lantana drive, you are walking in the path of history. Wherever you choose to call home in the Mid-Atlantic, you are tied to our past inexorably. 

How to Prepare to buy a Home

Home Sweet Home

When working with a Realtor, a potential client will benefit from advice and consent according to fair housing regulations. State, county and city laws are the primary enforcement rules and regulations Realtors practice under. 

Team Bianco operates our practice under affiliation with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach Realtors. With the full resources available at our disposal to list, market and sell your home, the most positive result is assured.

Talk to mortgage brokers.
Many first-time home buyers don’t take the time to get prequalified. They also often don’t take the time to shop around to find the best mortgage for their particular situation. It’s important to ask plenty of questions and make sure you understand the home loan process completely.

Be ready to move.
This is especially true in markets with a low inventory of homes for sale. It’s very common for home buyers to miss out on the first home they wish to purchase because they don’t act quickly enough. By the time they’ve made their decision, they may find that someone else has already purchased the house.

Find a trusted partner.
It’s absolutely vital that you find a real estate professional who understands your goals and who is ready and able to guide you through the home buying process.

Make a good offer.
Remember that your offer is very unlikely to be the only one on the table. Do what you can to ensure it’s appealing to a seller.

Factor maintenance and repair costs into your buying budget.
Even brand-new homes will require some work. Don’t leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.

Think ahead.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in your present needs, but you should also think about reselling the home before you buy. The average first-time buyer expects to stay in a home for around 10 years, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

Develop your home/neighborhood wish list.
Prioritize these items from most important to least.

Select where you want to live. Compile a list of three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in, taking into account nearby schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.

The Season is upon us


Happy Black Friday readers! I hope all of you had the opportunity to experience all that hearth and home has to offer. Spending significant time with friends and family at this time of year is precious. The holiday season is an opportunity to re-connect, slow down and share in all this life has to offer.

My blog post on this day is a rare chance to express gratitude for all the blessings God has bestowed upon my family and I. My modality has always been to be a “glass half full” kind of person, I deliberately focus on the positive. It is always easiest to complain or fall into the “oh poor me” mentality.

I have had my mettle tested throughout my 48 years on this earth, with the caveat that surely someone, somewhere is having a far worse experience. I have a condition called Atrial Fibrillation, an ailment that is characterized by rapid, irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath and potential for stroke inducing blood clots.

I have been afflicted with this ailment since I was 15 years old. I have routinely dealt with this as a part of my every day routine. I have been defribillated “shocked with electrical paddles” 6 times in the last 8 years. This has become my new normal.

Since my early 20’s I have undergone five dramatic spinal fusions/revisions, the last 3 being prior to Thanksgiving on November 15th 2016. My posture has degraded to a distinct curvature, not an insignificant development. This has also become part of my new normal.

These situations and challenges have been a strain to my body, for sure, but they have not depleted my good humor, work ethic and plans my wife and I have for our future together. Each and every morning I rise, despite intractable pain, with the mantra playing in my mind, “someone, somewhere is experiencing a far more dramatic set of challenges”. 

The things I am most grateful for at this holiday season are my family and friends, from whom I pull the strength to get up and do it again each and every single day. I genuinely look forward to every, single opportunity to engage new clients. I consider it a sacred duty to represent everyone I can to enable home ownership. It would be so easy to monetize the relationship, my wife and I have a different view, advice and consent to our friends and clients.

On this day, focus on what you have, not what you don’t. The easy road is far less challenging than the more difficult path. With greater challenge comes greater reward, our Lord never gives a person more than they can bear. Rise each day to meet these challenges, you will not only survive but thrive. God bless you all during this holiday season.   

Monopoly for Millennials

Yes, you read correctly, Monopoly has gotten a fresh, modern platform for that unique group among us Millennials. The classic investment and Real Estate game has gotten a facelift. Here is a recent article from People magazine on the new Hasbro offering:

Hasbro Faces Backlash Over Savage Monopoly for Millennials Board Game: ‘Adulting is Hard’

“Monopoly has a new edition that skewers a generation.”

“Hasbro, the company behind the classic board game, released its new model to target millennials — people born between 1981 and 1996, according to Pew Research — but the game has received mixed reactions from its target market.”

“The game’s tagline reads, “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway.” On the box, Monopoly’s traditional mascot, Rich Uncle Pennybags, sports earbuds and sunglasses, holds a coffee cup, and wears a gold participation medal while taking a selfie on a smartphone. Traditional game pieces are swapped out for crying emojis and hashtags.”

“One twitter user also pointed out that the board has fewer spaces than a normal Monopoly game board, “presumably because millennials are too lazy for a full game of Monopoly.”

Selling Sleuth commentary

Here is the point at which stereotyping has gone mainstream, in my opinion. This is just one more way to ostracize the same client base that we need, as Real Estate agents, to tap for development in our market.

Just as significant as market knowledge and current training in rules and regulations, is the ability to see opportunity, especially when others have turned from this chance. The popular platitude comes to mind, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

The most shocking quote directly from game text is, “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway.” How presumptuous is this assumption? We, as Realtors, are obligated to be ethical and professional. It is up to us to represent Realtors in a positive light in all our interactions with the public. 

10 Reasons to use a Realtor

Do you understand the value of a Realtor?

Realtors offer advice and consent, among other value added services, to their clients. Selling a home can be a stressful, time consuming process. Realtors have broad shoulders, we represent our clients with professionalism and authority. When you become ill, it isn’t advised to self diagnose, you visit a physician. When you have dire legal circumstances, you seek the advice of counsel. It is just as significant a decision to utilize a Realtor, we are the experts you need.


Homeowners who sell their homes on their own typically generate $46,000 less than homeowners who work with a Realtor.


Through the Multiple Listing Service, professional contacts and their own database of prospects, Realtors can help you reach the widest range of customers.


Realtors know the best ways to advertise to attract buyers, plus they can use the marketing muscle of their brokerage to promote your home.


Realtors have the time and expertise to handle open houses, showings, inspections and the dozens of other tasks that would take you away from your work and regular routine.


Realtors can evaluate your home and suggest improvements to get you maximum value, and they’re skilled at handling showings to generate a positive response


Buying or selling a home involves reams of paperwork that can be hard to understand. Realtors thrive in this world.


With years of bargaining experience and expert understanding of the market, Realtors can help you close the deal at the price and terms you want.


Realtors know local communities cold and can help you find a replacement home in the nicest neighborhood and with the best schools.


An experienced Realtor will continue to support you as questions pop up after the deal is done.


Realtors can refer you to their network of top-quality lenders, lawyers, inspectors and repair people to make sure you get the best result in every stage of your deal.

Contact a member of our team to enlist the representation of qualified professionals at our website:

New FICO metrics coming


Just when you thought you had a handle on your finances, new issues are on the horizon, namely, your FICO score. Nearly every person earning a paycheck, and needing a place to lay their head, is at least somewhat familiar with this method of credit qualification (and if you aren’t, you should be). The first quarter of 2019 is the tentative launch of this new qualifier.

The 3 credit reporting agencies (Trans Union, Experian and Equifax) hold all the cards in your ability to rent or purchase a home or get the career you are angling for. Your credit score effectively measures your responsibility and attitude towards money management. Paying your bills on time is the mark of all responsible adults, how would we feel if our employers didn’t pay our salaries in a timely manner?

An individual’s FICO score will now include checking and savings account information, an implemented process which should boost most (but not all) consumer’s ratings. Keep up to date with all things credit and mortgage related by using the Selling Sleuth as your no-nonsense resource to navigate these new financial waters.