Why a Smart Home is also a Danger Zone

by Kevin Hawkins on January 31, 2017

Smart Home

A most provocative talk about Smart Homes and the dangers of the IoT (Internet of Things) kicked-off the first Hacker Connect in New York City last week. Molly Sauter, a PhD candidate and Vanier Scholar from Montreal’s McGill University, gave a presentation that scared the crap out of me when she dove into the dangers of today’s Smart Home. Now I’ve been a fan and even early adopter of affordable Smart Home tech: in the late 1980s, I had a wireless alarm system from Radio Shack and switches that allowed me to turn on lights with a remote. But that stuff turned out to be terribly unreliable. More than a year ago, we outfitted our home with Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot and have been blissfully pleased. Great product, awesome interface and we’re now dabbling in more ways to make our home smarter.  I even wrote about Amazon’s move into the Smart Home space after last year’s homebuilder convention, since it was being largely ignored there (“Digital Dawn: Amazon is creating the smart house for the rest of us”).  Fast forward one year later, and Alexa was the star of the most recent CES (Consumer Electronics Show), and a plethora of products at this year’s International Builders Show touted ties to Alexa. In fact, the popularity of Alexa is so pervasive – Amazon sold millions of units of its Echo and Echo Dot during the holiday– when Google introduced its competing product – Home – industry experts predicted that Google is simply too late to beat Amazon at this game (“Amazon’s Echo is building a coffin that’s custom-made for Google.”). The Most Dangerous Game Which brings me back to why Sauter’s shock-talk at Hacker Connect was so poignant. Most folks following the IoT have all heard about the dangers: How the October 21, 2016 DDoS attack using IoT devices and their default passwords took down Twitter, Netflix, CNN, PayPal, Spotify, Fox News, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and many more. An inconvenience, yes; Life or death, no. But Sauter points out today’s Smart Homes have devices in our homes that could literally kill us. The example she gives is in a Samsung refrigerator that has a cool new feature: you can designate space inside that can be set as a refrigerator or a freezer. Sounds harmless and smart. “But it turns out that if a hacker could […]

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Fox and Roach Reports Success With Buyside

by Victor Lund on April 20, 2016

About Buyside Website

There are a lot of technology applications that look promising, none more so than the recent launch of their Home Valuation System on powered by Buyside™. Fox and Roach is the largest Berkshire Hathaway Home Services company. Their offices cover many regions including Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware. In WAV Group broker website effectiveness studies, BHHS Fox & Roach ranks in the top 10 for the most traffic of any broker in America. Last month, they launched the Home Valuation System, built by Buyside™ that created a landing page for every off- market property and IDX listings in their market footprint. About Buyside            Innovating Ahead of Competition This is a broker-friendly solution that provides benefits beyond Zillow® the national leader in displaying data on off-market properties. The goal of the strategy is to develop seller leads for their agents, and engage buyers and property owners with good information about property values and the ability to track a home. We are huge fans of the use of three property values, known as AVMs. “I think that the shortfall with the Zestimate™ is that it has only one AVM opinion,” says Steve Storti, BHHS Fox & Roach’s Chief Marketing Officer. “By introducing the RVM™ from Realtors Property Resource and two other AVM’s (including the Zestimate™) we tell the consumer the real story about AVMs – they are all just mathematical estimates and it’s best to talk to a local agent for the most accurate professional assessment of your home.” Success by the Numbers In the first 45 days, has had almost 51,000 valuation attempts done on their agent branded landing pages powered by Buyside™. It’s important to note that BHHS Fox and Roach rolled this feature out on both the broker site and agent websites. The broker site generated 68% of the traffic with just under over 34,000 of the valuations, and incredibly over 1300 agents participated in generating the other 32% or 16,000 for their own agent sites. There is truly a network effect that occurs when agents leverage the broker provided co-branded websites. BHHS Fox and Roach leverages the CoreLogic AgentAchieve™ broker and agent website platform which provides easy integration of the Buyside application. Buyside has also integrated CoreLogic’s ePropertyWatch into the BHHS Fox & Roach’s Home Valuation System. With ePropertyWatch, consumers can register to get an automated monthly email with […]


Greensboro, N.C. – July 8, 2015 – After four years and a six millions dollar investment in its commitment to deliver the best search experience that an agent can provide their clients, Listingbook has recently deployed its new platform in the San Diego MLS market. The addition of San Diego County’s MLS Sandicor marks the 35th deployment of the new Listingbook system, covering over 500,000 real estate agents nationally. Listingbook was designed for real estate agents to give consumers the most up-to-date and comprehensive search experience allowing them to “search like an agent”, while enabling the agent to view the consumers search activity and easily collaborate with them. The new Listingbook platform enhances the consumer experience with an array of new features that help buyers and sellers make more informed decisions. “This is not window dressing,” says Randall Kaplan, CEO of Listingbook, the real estate industry’s proven lead nurturing and client servicing platform. “Yes, we significantly improved the Listingbook experience for agents and consumers, and through iteration and innovation we’ve embedded many powerful new features to keep Listingbook at the forefront of search, unlike anything one can get on public search sites, like Zillow or,” he added. Kaplan notes the new Listingbook brings dozens of new features and innovations, including a new robust agent-branded mobile app, allowing clients to connect and collaborate with their agents no matter where they are, new embedded social share features, as well as a breadth of data sources that provide detailed local Community Information, School Information, Points of Interest and Public Records, such as property tax data. “By adding richer and deeper information, agents can give consumers the most powerful, up-to-date and complete search by connecting clients to the best data available, which comes directly from the MLS,” Kaplan explains. “Agents and their clients will tell you it’s better than Zillow,” he added. The robust search capabilities of Listingbook allow consumers to search by City, County, Zip, School Zones, Neighborhoods, Subdivisions and more. New advanced features allow consumers to “draw” a search area on a map, plotting all the homes listed for sale within the boundaries drawn. Just like an agent, buyers can search multiple areas, or create more custom searches, selecting from the most comprehensive list of advance search options. “Public search portals dumb-down their searches to serve the lowest common denominator,” explains Kaplan. “We serve the serious agent, active producers who work […]

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How A Top Agent Views Technology

by Mike Audet on October 22, 2012

Real estate technology

Justin Havre is a real estate agent in Calgary Alberta working at CIR Realty.  CIR is the largest independent firm in Canada with about 650 agents.  With his team, Justin Havre & Associates, he has been number one or two in his Brokerage over the last three years.  To put it in perspective, in 2011 they were number 1 and closed 171 sides with an average price in Calgary of about $430,000.  I sat down with Justin recently at a Technology Conference put on by his web technology provider, Real Estate Webmasters, to find out how technology fits into his success. One thing that became clear immediately was Justin’s intent to make technology an integral part of his business from day one.  Before real estate he worked in the cable industry on the technology side but decided after some time that he wanted to make a change and set his sights on real estate.  He chose CIR Realty (Canada’s largest Independent Brokerage) because of the great virtual tools they offered and their overall commitment to technology.  Everyone in their office, as Justin pointed out, does their own documents online, manages their deals online including deal processing right down to payment of commissions.  It was exactly what he was looking for. Like most agents that recognize the importance of technology Justin had a website when he started but he wasn’t happy with the results he was experiencing in terms of lead generation.  He also found it slow and painful to get things done with the vendor he was using at the time. So he set out to find a new vendor that he felt would provide him the type of technology product and service he was looking for. I asked him to take me through that process on how he chose a web site provider and how it was working.  I was surprised to find out that he still has that original website he switched to several years ago along with 2 more.  It was a fully Custom website.  He took his previous four sites from launched on one of his other sites and redid them a lot to look unique and appeal to other buyers, and then he brought a third LEC (Limited Edition Custom) site last year. Not as expensive as a fully custom website it gave him the options he wanted to differentiate the site in ways he felt […]