How Safe Are Your Passwords?

When Yahoo! reported that someone hacked one billion of its accounts, it was a stunning revelation. Then it disclosed last fall that the names, dates of birth, email addresses, passwords and security questions and answers were compromised on all three billion of its accounts. For many, this news was devastating.

That’s because the vast majority of us use the same password or too close a variation of the same password for everything we access. Research also tells us that the average strength of our passwords is low. Also, most of us rarely change our passwords. In a 2017 survey, Keeper Security found over 80 percent of us reuse the same password, and nearly a third of us (29 percent) share a password with two or more people.

Keeping your passwords safe

Today, it seems hardly a month goes by that we don’t hear about a major data breach involving a well-known brand. Microsoft-owned LinkedIn had 117 million emails and passwords hacked. eBay had all of its 145 million usernames, emails, passwords, and dates of birth compromised.

Even firms in the business of keeping information safe and secure are on the list of the most prominent data breaches ever. Equifax, the major credit data firm, had millions of customer passwords and emails stolen. RSA Security had a theft that compromised its SecureID two-factor authentication tokens. They are considered the gold standard of security.

Dozens of major company online account records have been hacked. That means the likelihood your email and password from one of those accounts have been sold is very high. How do you keep your password safe?

We talked to our experts at Tech Helpline. Tech Helpline is the real estate industry’s #1 tech support service, available to nearly half the Realtors in North America. That’s more than 500,000 Realtors in the U.S. and Canada. Tech Helpline’s staff of professional tech analysts have about 300 years of combined IT experience. Most importantly, they work with real estate agents every day.

Here are some best practice recommendations when it comes to keeping your passwords safe.

Make sure you haven’t been compromised

Have your email and favorite password already been compromised? With so many data breaches, how do you know if your information might be for sale on the dark web?

Fortunately, there is a safe and trustworthy website that will tell you if your email or password is somewhere online – and the source that exposed it. The site is called “have i been pwned?” You can read about why Troy Hunt, a Microsoft Regional Director, created it, as well as find the links to check your email and password, here: https://haveibeenpwned.com.

It might scare you, but you might not even have to go to the Dark Web to learn if your password and email address has been compromised. A Google Search just might reveal a list of passwords and emails hackers use with “brute force” software to break into accounts. You just might find your password on that text file.

How strong is your password?

There are several online tools that you can use to pre-test the strength of your password. The stronger your password, the safer your password. Check out How Secure Is My Password or Password Meter.

Tech Helpline analysts suggest that you can use a variation of a password safely for different accounts, as long as you keep in mind a few best practices:

  • Use 12-14 characters
  • Include caps, numbers and special characters (if allowed)
  • These first two requirements are part of the algorithm password testers tend to use
  • Make it unique, but very easy to remember for you

Remember, one of the most common ways that hackers can break into accounts is by guessing common passwords. The more difficult your passwords are, the higher the likelihood that a hacker will simply look for easier targets.

Also, some firms, including banks, are offering a new option called a “passphrase.” Instead of a single word and characters, it is a sequence of words or other text that acts as a password. They can be much harder for hackers to crack, and easier for you to remember, such as “Wh@t is th3 PassWord?”

Beware of stored passwords in your browser

Most of us store passwords in our favorite browser because it’s a huge time saver. The bigger benefit: we don’t have to remember which password we used! After all, when we see our passwords populate, they appear hidden – as asterisks. So, they are safe, right?

Well, not entirely. Two things you need to realize. First, most browsers will allow you to see every single password stored. In Chrome, for example, if you have your computer’s single admin password, it will reveal your password for every one of your stored accounts. Second, there are software programs that will export all of your passwords from almost any browser.

For example, WebBrowserPassView is a free password recovery tool for Windows that reveals the passwords stored in web browsers, including Internet Explorer (Version 4.0 – 11.0), Mozilla Firefox (all versions), Google Chrome, Safari, and Opera. The publishers note, “This tool can be used to recover your lost/forgotten password of any Website, including popular Web sites (sic), like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, and Gmail, as long as your Web Browser stores the password.”

This is another reason why your computer must be password protected.

Using a password program

The best practice may not always be the cheapest one, but it is, the experts say, the safest one. Use a password software program such as Dashlane, LastPass or Keeper.

For typically less than $30 a year, these programs do the heavy lifting of password security management for you. That’s a tiny price to pay if you think what it could cost you if a hacker got into your bank or PayPal account. These programs help you use a different, incredibly strong password for every site and account you have. You only have one password to remember, and that’s to enable the password manager.

There are some free options, with more limited features, as well those that PC Magazine lists here.

Write them down

The experts remind you to write all of your passwords down. You then need to put them in a safe or safety deposit box. This is vital, because if something were ever to happen to you, your significant other, or heirs, they will need access to your accounts. They will also need access to your smartphone, your computer and any other device that requires a password.

Take these five simple steps say our friends at Tech Helpline, and you will have what you can do to keep your passwords safe.

For additional insight from the Tech Helpline experts, check out these articles:

Tricia Stamper is Director of Technology at Florida Realtors.® Florida Realtors owns both Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 35 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: https://retechnology.com/index.php?option=com_retechcontent&view=content&layout=articles&item_id=21623&Itemid=150

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

HomeSnaphttp://www.homesnap.com/Sabrina-Caton

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit our INSTAGRAM page:  http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

PINTREST: https://www.pinterest.com/thecatonteam/

Visit us on FACEBOOK:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

YELP us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or YELP me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. 

The Caton Team and Landed – Teacher Down Payment Assistance Program

For those of you in the know – you may have heard of the Landed Grant for local teachers.  It is an amazing down payment assistance program to keep our teachers here – with us.

In July of 2017 we heard about the program and we reached out to Landed directly – eager to work with local teachers and keep their talent in our local schools.

Since then, we’ve had the pleasure of working with a couple of Landed teachers and I am so proud to say – The Caton Team got them into HOMES! 

The Real Estate Market in the Bay Area has been booming with no signs of stopping.  When we sat down with our Landed clients we made sure we knew their time line and they knew how the market works.  It didn’t take them long to see how quickly homes were selling and truly how competitive it is.  

Sometimes in order to succeed you’ve got to go against the crowds and in order for us to get homes – not condos for our teachers we did have to go against the grain.  But with their trust and determination – together we were able to find them a lovely home – and make an offer without any competition.

It was an amazing moment for us.  Our client realized the speed of the market and adjusted their course.  They had their eyes on a home that didn’t sell right away and we had a chance to be the only offer, to offer below list price and have time for contingencies – terms we rarely see anymore.  The seller and their agent were wonderful to work with – and together we mades their dreams come true.

You don’t need to be a teacher to put us to work.  The Caton Team are full time Realtors, with over 35 years of combined, local real estate experience.  We work hard for each of our clients to turn their dreams into realty.  How can The Caton Team help you?

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 35 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

To learn more about Landed visit:  https://www.landed.com

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

HomeSnaphttp://www.homesnap.com/Sabrina-Caton

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit our INSTAGRAM page:  http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

PINTREST: https://www.pinterest.com/thecatonteam/

Visit us on FACEBOOK:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

YELP us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or YELP me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

 

Please note –

Landed is not exclusively for traditional, classroom teachers.

Landed believes that education doesn’t happen just in the classroom; it also happens in the hallways, in the cafeteria, in the gym, in the guidance counselor’s office, in the bandroom… Schools are like a village: there are many different people playing many different roles and it takes each and every one of them to build a healthy environment for our students.

Landed’s mission is to uphold those who uphold us, and that means upholding each and every person pulling their weight to educate America’s future. All staff members who have worked for a minimum of two years at least part-time in a partner public or partner charter school are eligible to use Landed’s down payment support. This includes classroom teachers, coaches, interventionists, speech-language pathologists, psychologists, nurses, administrators, social workers, occupational therapists, department chairs, security guards, physical therapists, janitors, principals, and the many more valuable professionals working tirelessly to make a difference in students’ lives everyday.

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. 

 

Overcome Misconceptions About AVMs

First off – what is an AVM?  An AVM is an Automated Valuation Model – it’s when the internet tells you how much a home is worth…  I have some personal insight on this; however, let me share this article from Realtor.com

Some sellers base their list price on inaccurate online home valuation tools.  Remember there are apps for everything – but somethings like real estate, need the human touch…

Jamie McCurdy wanted to sell her house in Houston quickly so she could move back to her home state of Missouri to be closer to family. McCurdy wasn’t concerned with making a big profit on the sale—after all, it was December 2013, and the local market was still trudging through the recovery of the last housing downturn. She just wanted a short timeline to close. So she researched home values online and was satisfied to list her 2,280-square-foot ranch-style house according to what the internet said her home was worth. Zillow’s “Zestimate” and other automated valuation models valued her home at $189,000. But her real estate agent, Penny Brockway, RSPS, broker-owner of Brockway Realty in League City, Texas, flinched at the figure.

Brockway wanted to respect McCurdy’s wishes for a quick sale, but given that the three-bedroom, two-bath home sat on 10,000 square feet of land, she knew AVMs were undervaluing her client’s property. So Brockway further researched local market data using the Realtors Property Resource®, including comparable listings, home upgrades and special features, and neighborhood dynamics. She found that most homes in the area sat on 7,000 to 9,000 square feet of land and didn’t have comparable features, such as a tiered deck, spa, and detached two-car garage. “Her house had everything,” Brockway says. “Beautiful wood floors and plantation shutters. It was really at the high end in the neighborhood, and I knew we could get more money.”

To McCurdy’s surprise, Brockway suggested listing the home for $227,000—$38,000 more than McCurdy envisioned. “I’d only been in the house for a year, and the market at the time was improving but not great yet,” McCurdy says. “I didn’t think it would sell for that price.” Brockway would have to ease McCurdy’s concerns and dissuade her of the common misconception that AVMs provide an accurate price point.

It’s an ongoing issue agents continue to face: How do you convince sellers that you are a better resource for accurate market data than third-party real estate sites? “These sites are basically for entertainment purposes only,” says Tim Harris, cofounder of Tim and Julie Harris Real Estate Coaching. “Agents need to approach every single seller with the assumption that the seller is looking at these sites, and they have to prepare accordingly.”

In order to do that, agents must be educated on the hyperlocal stats that matter most to a client’s sale and present a detailed price analysis that covers items AVMs don’t. “The Zestimate or any of these other AVMs aren’t going to take into account the intricacies of the area or the upgrades on the home, and a prepared agent can show a seller how those variables affect price,” Harris says. That will go a long way toward building trust with clients, which is essential if they are going to feel comfortable accepting your guidance and advice. “The consumer has to have more confidence in the agent than they do the internet. To build this confidence, agents must to be able to present a detailed CMA with a high level of authority.”

After Brockway supplied a more detailed market analysis, McCurdy realized she could potentially leave thousands of dollars on the table. “Once I considered the information Penny brought to me, I realized I had to put a little faith into my agent,” McCurdy says. They eventually compromised on the list price, putting the home on the market for $220,000. Six days after listing, a buyer offered the full asking price.

“I definitely didn’t expect it,” McCurdy says. “I thought we would still have to come down from the asking price, and here was a full-price offer.” The transaction closed soon after, and McCurdy pocketed $30,000 more than she thought she would on the sale. “I’m really happy Penny provided so much information on the value of my home. I was able to put faith in my agent, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”

It wasn’t difficult for Brockway to take control of the narrative of her client’s home value with the right information, she says. “I always make sure I’m prepared ahead of time and bring my laptop with me when I meet a client. I think that’s really important,” Brockway says. “It’s important to me that I take care of my clients, and getting them the most money for their home is part of that.”

The Caton Team has gone through this many times – where the AVM is either too high or too low.  As much as I love technology – there are some things that still require the human touch.  The Caton Team is more than an app – we are a resource.  

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 25 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: http://realtormag.realtor.org/sales-and-marketing/success-stories/article/2018/03/overcome-client-misconceptions-about-avms?tp=i-H43-Bb-1ma-2WEoU-1p-EHi7-1c-2WFwg-15LVaY&om_rid=37236114&Om_ntype=RMOdaily&om_mid=6856

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

HomeSnaphttp://www.homesnap.com/Sabrina-Caton

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit our INSTAGRAM page:  http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

PINTREST: https://www.pinterest.com/thecatonteam/

Visit us on FACEBOOK:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

YELP us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or YELP me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.

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How to Lower Utility Costs for Any Home

 

You may be able to decrease utility costs with just a few energy upgrades and tweaks. “There are so many small changes people can make to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, and it all adds up to significantly lower energy bills and a smaller environmental footprint,” says Christina Kielich of the U.S. Department of Energy. Kielich and home energy auditor Erlend Kimmich offered the following tips on Curbed.com about how to cut energy costs in a home, including:

Replace lightbulbs. The typical American household spends 5 to 10 percent of its energy budget on lighting alone, according to the DOE. Replace incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs, which on average are 85 percent more energy-efficient. You can shave $100 a year on your energy costs by making the switch.

Unplug. Leaving cellphones, TVs, computers, and other electronic devices plugged in can continue to pull power from the grid. That can add up over time. Unplug devices or plug your electronics into power strips that you can easily turn off whenever they’re not being used.

Use an automatic thermostat. Save up to 10 percent on your annual heating and cooling costs by just dropping the thermostat 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit from its normal setting for eight hours a day. An automatic thermostat, which can be purchased for just $18, can help to more easily adjust the thermostat during the day and cut energy use, too.

Seal your attic and basement. For a more substantial investment, seal and insulate the attic and basement—basically the top and bottom of your home, says Kimmich. “Especially if the house was built before World War II, that’s where you tend to find the most leakage,” Kimmich adds. “Think of your home’s air sealing and insulation like a windbreaker worn over a sweater. If there’s a rip or you leave the windbreaker unbuttoned, it can’t really help. So we fix the sweater by making the insulation more substantial and we improve that air seal anywhere the indoor space is connected to the outdoor space.”

Get more tips from Curbed.com and view the DOE’s instructions for DIY jobs like sealing air leaks with caulk, which could potentially offer energy savings of 10 percent to 20 percent.

Source: “How to Make Your Home Energy Efficient,” Curbed.com (Feb. 23, 2018)

Got Questions – The Caton Team is here to help. We are but a call or click away!

The Caton Team is comprised of Susan and Sabrina Caton – a mother/daughter in law team.  We are full time, local Realtors with over 25 years of combined Real Estate experience.  How can The Caton Team help you?

I read this article at: http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2018/03/16/how-make-any-home-more-energy-savvy?tp=i-H43-Bb-1ma-2WEoU-1p-EHi7-1c-2WFwg-15LVaY&om_rid=37236114&Om_ntype=RMOdaily&om_mid=6856

Remember to follow our Blog for the local real estate beat, a pulse on the San Francisco Peninsula at: https://therealestatebeat.wordpress.com

Got Questions? – The Caton Team is here to help.  

Email Sabrina & Susan at:  Info@TheCatonTeam.com

Call us at: 650-568-5522  Office: 650-365-9200

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  http://thecatonteam.com/mobileapp

HomeSnaphttp://www.homesnap.com/Sabrina-Caton

Visit our Website at:   http://thecatonteam.com/

Visit our INSTAGRAM page:  http://instagram.com/thecatonteam

PINTREST: https://www.pinterest.com/thecatonteam/

Visit us on FACEBOOK:   http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sabrina-Susan-The-Caton-Team-Realtors/294970377834

YELP us at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-caton-team-realtors-sabrina-caton-and-susan-caton-redwood-city

Or YELP me:  http://www.yelp.com/user_details_thanx?userid=gpbsls-_RLpPiE9bv3Zygw

Connect with us professionally at LinkedInhttps://www.linkedin.com/in/sabrinawendtcaton

https://www.linkedin.com/in/susancatonrealtor

Please enjoy my personal journey through homeownership at:

http://ajourneythroughhomeownership.wordpress.com

Thanks for reading – Sabrina

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina – A Family of Realtors

Effective. Efficient. Responsive.  What Can The Caton Team Do For You?

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

Sabrina BRE# 01413526 / Susan BRE #01238225 / Team BRE# 70000218/ Office BRE #01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts and the information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed.