High-Tech Home Design From CES 2019

Jan 10, 2019 by

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

As more homes get teched out, how do you make a home smart but stylish too? CES 2019—Las Vegas’ annual mega tech show—is showing off thousands of high-tech products, including a growing number to outfit a smart home.

From smart mirrors to rollable TV screens, CES 2019 vendors are evolving the look and function of many everyday household items. Particularly interesting is a gradual movement to the attention of detail in how these high-tech products are being integrated into a home’s design. It’s becoming less about having a massive monitor on display or smart speaker on your coffee table, and more about integrating and blending the tech into the home subtly.

The Rollable TV

Photo Credit: LG

The bulky, rectangular television set has long been a centerpiece of many family rooms. But LG Signature’s OLED TV R is disguising it. This rollable 65-inch television disappears into a box below a modern, silver credenza when not in use. When you do need it, it unrolls to its full height in seconds. You can also put the TV in “line view,” so that only about a quarter of the screen is showing. In this wide, rectangular view, the TV can be set to just display a clock, weather, personal photos, or other designs.

LG debuted a prototype of the wallpaper TV back at CES 2018, but it will be available to the public starting in the second half of 2019. Pricing has yet to be determined.

Not Just Any Wood

Photo Credit: Mui

That two-by-four piece of wood on the wall looks like a stylish accent that blends into the room, but it’s actually a smart home assistant. Voice-assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant, are getting stylish makeovers and embedded into more products. The Mui smart block can be controlled via voice. Homeowners can take control over music, lighting, thermostats, and more through this discreet Google Assistant. When it’s not being used, the LCD display turns off and it looks like just any other piece of wood again. When activated, words appear on the screen and you can talk to it. It’ll be available in early 2019 for $ 999.

Picture Frame and Wireless Charger

Tech chargers aren’t exactly the prettiest accessory to leave lying around. Enter Twelve South’s PowerPic. It’s a picture frame that doubles as a wireless charger for your devices. It appears as a typical wooden 5×7 picture frame, but it contains a hidden wireless charger behind that favorite photo being displayed. You can place an iPhone or other compatible device inside of it to start charging. (This retails for $ 80.)


A Smart Mirror

This isn’t your ordinary mirror. It’s a touchscreen mirror with Google Assistant-embedded inside. This smart mirror from Capstone Connected Home allows you to ask it anything you typically would of a standard voice assistant. You can even compose email and messages from it and type directly into the mirror. The mirror is available in various sizes, starting at 19-inch by 22-inch. It’ll be available in early 2019. Pricing has yet to be determined.


Mood lighting

Photo Credit: Philips Hue

Pick a mood and let your lights match it. Philips Hue offers a range of smart bulbs that allow you to take control over the lighting to fit the setting. Adjust your dining room lighting to create an ambient atmosphere for a dinner party, or turn a living room into a home theater with dimmed lights. Many of the bulbs can also now be controlled via voice, allowing you to change lighting without ever having to flip a switch.

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High-Tech and Human Hustle: CENTURY 21® Expands Its Reach as a Real Estate Force

Jul 2, 2017 by

While other companies and franchisors are working toward earning the attention of the industry, a growing number of real estate professionals looking for a new place to call home are seeking out the iconic CENTURY 21® brand, which is known in the market as a community of like-minded entrepreneurs who ideate and share best practices. Century 21 Real Estate LLC is coming off its best growth year in a decade, in terms of the number of new offices affiliating with the brand, with many of the new brokers coming into the CENTURY 21 System citing it as the best platform for their sales professionals, their market, their growth and long-term success. In 2016 alone, 657 new offices proudly waved the CENTURY 21 flag in local markets around the world. These growth numbers follow last year’s announcement that in 2015, the CENTURY 21 System welcomed 497 new offices globally. All totaled, Century 21 Real Estate LLC currently has approximately 7,400 independent offices worldwide, making it a global leader in residential real estate.

“It’s exciting to know that we now have 7,400 residential offices worldwide, but more importantly, we have real estate entrepreneurs coming to us wanting to know more about the C21® story and how we are helping their peers increase agent productivity, recruit the best professionals in the market and enhance marketshare,” says Greg Sexton, chief operating officer of Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “Based on the number of prospective franchisees coming into our Madison, N.J., headquarters, and those attending our live events to experience our value proposition first-hand, we’re confident that we will continue to be the first choice for industry professionals and consumers looking for a new place to call home.”

Overall, the “we’ve got your back” culture at C21® of collaboration and shared ideation, growth-oriented technology tools, learning, and multi-channel marketing communications, coupled with the peer-to-peer community of like-minded entrepreneurs who support one another’s growth and long-term success, has helped the global franchisor raise its affiliated agent base almost 10 percent year-over-year to 111,531.

“Agents are gravitating to the CENTURY 21 System because they want to be a part of a culture of purpose-driven professionals who earn the trust and affinity of homebuyers and sellers better than anyone in the business—and the three-peat sweep of J.D. Power helps to affirm that,” adds Cara Whitley, chief marketing officer of Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “Our Platform supports entrepreneurs by providing access to tools and technologies that help to facilitate human-to-human connection, augment their skills and abilities to help better serve the consumer, and deliver insights that other agents who are considering a move, and consumers with life-changing real estate decisions, demand—and deserve—from a real estate company.”

When you ask the new brokers affiliating with the brand why they chose CENTURY 21, they reference the many ways the brand is helping their “most valued assets”—their agents—grow their business and close more transactions via lead generation, learning, and personalized technology offerings, like Realogy’s proprietary Zap® platform for brokers and agents, in addition to its suite of data analytics and mobile-based technologies.

The differentiator, adds Whitley, is the philosophy of the 111,500 agents worldwide who approach each other and the market as a collaborative community that shares best practices on how best to combine technology with a personalized “human touch” to build long-term relationships, attract new business and drive per-person transaction growth.

“CENTURY 21 agents are our heroes, and when it comes to helping make dreams come true, they are the best in the world,” says Whitley. “They are a community of like-minded entrepreneurs who support one another’s growth and long-term success, who never stop hustling, and will not sleep until all parties in the transaction are satisfied.”

In a world where people and professionals have hundreds of choices to make every day, including which real estate company they feel is best for their unique, individual needs and wants, the CENTURY 21 System is increasingly earning the reputation as the “go-to” company for both real estate consumers who seek the best of both tech and human experiences, and for industry professionals wanting more growth-oriented support.

“Over the last five years, CENTURY 21 Affiliated has grown substantially, with over 100 offices, 2,000 affiliated sales professionals and, in 2016, we sold 17,923 homes, and we certainly would not have had this type of growth without the ongoing support from the CENTURY 21 brand,” explains Dan Kruse, president and chief executive officer of CENTURY 21 Affiliated, with offices in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Florida. “We’re a proud franchisee of the CENTURY 21 system. Their innovative thinking embraces our strategy for new market growth, and supports our overall business model.”

Those affiliated with the CENTURY 21 System receive a great many benefits—both directly and indirectly—from a collective culture that values human interaction to a platform that supports individual growth. For example, new sales professionals are able to learn from their more experienced peers, broker managers are able to lean in and grow with others in similar roles, and companies that choose to affiliate are not only welcomed with a comprehensive, year-long onboarding process, but they also have access to other long-running independent franchise owners and operators who openly share the secrets to their overall success. The foundational principle of the collaborative culture at C21® is simple, yet powerful: support someone else’s success and you support their lives and the countless lives and communities they touch along the way.

“After 14 years as an independent brand, I decided to get into franchising, and after an eight-month journey dissecting all available options and business models, the choice was clear: affiliate with CENTURY 21,” explains Terry Swanson, president of CENTURY 21 Results Realty in Cumming, Ga., serving the Atlanta metropolitan region. “In doing so, not only do we now have access to the tools and services necessary to thrive and grow, but I can turn to any number of broker managers like myself across the world to get their ideas and discuss strategies that are helping them overcome business challenges and concerns. Now that’s powerful, and that’s the new CENTURY 21.”

Sexton believes that the System’s continued focus on quality over quantity is helping the organization drive innovationn and disruptive change while proactively adapting to a consistently altered business environment. The CENTURY 21 Zap platform is the perfect example of how the iconic brand owns its role as an innovator. In fostering a “we” versus “them” mentality, Zap is truly a team approach. Zap combines best-in-class real estate websites and apps with centralized access to a customer engagement platform that builds strong, long-term relationships between agents and their customers, driving agent efficiency, effectiveness and productivity.

Unlike other platforms in the sharing economy that isolate people from each other in business dealings, the magic behind Zap is in bringing together all parties. It facilitates sharing between brokers and agents, agents and their clients, and homebuyers and sellers, while providing feedback to their C21 sales professional.

“Zap is getting results for our agents who use the platform regularly,” says Kevin McRobbie, chief operating officer of CENTURY 21 North Shore, with 27 offices throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. “In fact, Zap users are doing more business than those who choose not to engage with the platform.”

This is even more promising news for the global franchisor whose work repositioning and contemporizing the C21® brand has helped it to become the real estate company of choice within the real estate industry and with homebuyers and sellers. Just last year, for example, the CENTURY 21 brand announced that it received all four industry-leading customer satisfaction awards in the annual J.D. Power 2016 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction StudySM, sweeping the awards for the third consecutive year across four customer satisfaction segments in the study, including: First-Time Home-Buyer Satisfaction, First-Time Home-Seller Satisfaction, Repeat Home-Buyer Satisfaction and Repeat Home-Seller Satisfaction.

Sweeping all four J.D. Power customer satisfaction awards alone is significant, since no other real estate company has accomplished this feat once, let alone three times consecutively. Adding to that distinction are third-party voices and peer recommendations pouring in from clients and customers C21 System members interact with each and every day. Through its partnership with RealSatisfied, a leading customer satisfaction and brand management platform for the real estate industry, as well as its in-house Quality Service Pinnacle Awards, CENTURY 21 System members are proving that real estate professionals can not only better understand their clients’ needs and work tirelessly to exceed client expectations, but do so while maintaining superior production.

“As a real estate professional, I know that relevance is given by those we interact with, and remaining relevant is critical if I am to remain successful in today’s consumer-centric world,” says Eric Riviere of CENTURY 21 Richard Berry & Associates in Louisiana, a Quality Service Pinnacle Award winner in only his second year with the brand. “I’m proud of these ratings and my affiliation with a company that helps me engage with homebuyers and sellers where they live, and better serve them both in-person and across multiple digital channels.”

“The importance of earning quality service ratings is unquestionable, as they help validate our day-to-day focus on providing best practices in client care,” adds Fernando Semiao, president of CENTURY 21 Semiao & Associates in New Jersey. “The positive feedback we receive helps us leave a lasting impression on the people we interact with, create a foundation of trust, and ultimately, it separates us from the competition.”

In a separate but equally impressive third-party citation, the 2017 Millward Brown survey of real estate consumers found that the CENTURY 21 brand also ranked highest in total brand awareness for the 19th consecutive year in Millward Brown’s ad tracking study. Diving deeper into the research, the study also found that both the Latino community at large and Hispanic millennials endorse Century 21 Real Estate significantly higher than the competition. When presented with a list of real estate agencies, total awareness of the iconic CENTURY 21 brand among the Hispanic community was 91 percent, significantly higher than the nearest competitor at 69 percent. For Hispanic millennials, total awareness was at 88 percent, 24 percentage points higher than the next closest competitor. At 45 percent, Hispanic consumers also selected the CENTURY 21 System as the most recognized name in real estate, significantly higher than the nearest competitor at 32 percent.

Together, the brand’s efforts have greatly increased the profile of their affiliated sales professionals with this increasingly dynamic segment, but more importantly, the brand has helped its System members better understand and serve the unique needs of Hispanic homebuyers and sellers. A list of initiatives that specifically address the many people and cultures within the overall Hispanic community that the C21 brand is delivering include:

  • Spanish-first marketing programs and digital advertising spots, proprietary online tools and targeted sponsorships.
  • Proud sponsor of one of Los Angeles’ premier Latino events—Posible L.A. 2017, a curated event dedicated to Angelino entrepreneurs
  • the site just completed a major overhaul to focus on the data and knowledge Hispanic buyers prefer and seek when searching for real estate information
  • Partnership with Pólvora Advertising as the brand’s Hispanic marketing agency

“Serving multicultural homebuyers and sellers is no longer a niche,” explains Sexton, who notes that the brand is also active in the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the Asian Real Estate Association of America and the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals. “Serving diverse markets is good business, and another sign that our System is committed to reflecting all of the faces of the consumers it serves in local markets across the globe.”

In today’s digital world, where all citizens by and large are media creators, businesses, especially service-oriented real estate companies, need to foundationally be prepared to respond to disruption, communications and innovation.

“What we have created is a meaningful community of like-minded real estate professionals whose collective work matters, and while it may not be for everyone in the business, those that affiliate with C21 are delighted with how expectations are exceeded, and they openly share the experience with others,” adds Whitley.

And if the CENTURY 21 philosophy needed additional credibility, the brand can look to the unique mind and brilliance of Seth Godin, recognized as the premier marketing and consumer guru, who, at a C21® brand-sponsored event called “Agents of the Future,” so aptly said: “All of us are smarter than any of us.”

“At the end of the day, the power of human interaction is irreplaceable when it comes to buying or selling a home,” says Whitley. “The combination of a broker- and agent-centric value proposition and a focus on one of the company’s core values of delivering the highest standards of quality service throughout the consumer’s decision-making journey has helped to make System members a top choice when a real estate need arises.”

There’s no denying that the new look and feel of CENTURY 21 is a modern brand experience, one where their strong foundation and internal culture of collaboration and shared ideation is growing a community of like-minded entrepreneurs who share common values and goals in an authentic and transparent manner. In doing so, the brand is earning the trust and affinity of industry professionals and homebuyers and sellers around the globe who are in the market for a new place to call home.

For more information, please visit

Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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The post High-Tech and Human Hustle: CENTURY 21® Expands Its Reach as a Real Estate Force appeared first on RISMedia.


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Master Bathroom Remodels Are Going High-Tech

Aug 22, 2016 by

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Home owners are increasingly investing to create luxurious, modernized master baths, according to the 2016 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Survey of more than 2,100 home owners who are planning or recently completed a bathroom renovation project.

Of those surveyed, 20 percent say they are updating the toilet; 12 percent are updating a tub; and 9 percent are updating a shower with high-tech features.

High-tech toilet features home owners say they’re incorporating include self-cleaning functions, motion-activated seats, or built-in nightlights. Popular high-tech bathtub features are built-in lighting, heated backrests, and scented mist dispensers. The survey also showed the most popular high-tech shower updates are mood lighting, digital controls, and built-in sound.

Other popular luxury features that home owners say they’re spending on are rainfall showerheads (among 54 percent of those updating showers); bathtubs with room for two (20 percent of those upgrading tubs); adding chandeliers (17 percent of upgraded light fixtures); and bidet-equipped commodes (6percent of upgraded toilets).

19th St
Master Bathroom
2012 New American Home

Home owners surveyed who recently completed a project say they most wish they had installed radiant heating, towel warmers, and super-sized showers during their bathroom renovations.

Of the remodeling home owners surveyed, two in five say they spent between $ 10,000 to $ 25,000 on master bathroom renovations. Another one-third surveyed said they spent more than $ 25,000.

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Oprah Buys High-Tech Ski Getaway Complete With ‘Wine Mine’

Dec 17, 2015 by

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Joshua Johnson via ZillowThe home is in the Colorado community of Mountain Village, reachable from Telluride by road or gondola.

By Melissa Allison

Oprah Winfrey loves hanging out with her oak trees, and now she can commune among the evergreens at her new high-tech mansion in the Colorado ski town of Telluride.

The media mogul paid $ 14 million for a furnished mansion that belonged to businessman and African art collector Bob Wall, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The 8,700-square-foot home has everything for the well-heeled ski enthusiast: a mud room, a seven-person hot tub and a faux mining car that connects the mansion with a nearby ski trail.

For winding down after a long day on the slopes, there’s a 56-foot-long “wine mine” traversed by an antique steel ore cart. (See it in the slide show below.)

The ore cart rides on old mine rails in a chilled, humidified room that has “sound effects like you’re moving through a mine shaft and lights that are computerized to flicker like a lantern would in a mine,” said listing agent T.D. Smith with Telluride Real Estate Corp., an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. The tunnel holds 1,600 bottles of wine.

The tech mogul who sold the 2001 home spent nearly five years having it designed and built, Smith said. “The home fits perfectly with its mountainous environment, with wonderfully clean, contemporary lines and an interior that just pops.”

Like any good tech exec, Wall included a host of smart features, including climate control and a weather station.

“He can water his indoor plants from San Francisco using his iPad,” Smith said.

A helicopter flew in the 35-foot-high outdoor tower for this home’s aerial fire pit, which has views of the surrounding woods and Colorado’s San Sophia Mountain Range.

The five-bedroom, 6.5-bath home has a sauna, a guesthouse and a turret-style tower with 360-degree views and an office, seating area and kitchenette.

It’s located on the slope side of Mountain Village, a community that’s connected to historic Telluride by road, but which is often reached by gondola instead.


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