What is one of the largest challenges that homeowners face?

Scott Toal: The rapid advancements in technology, materials and design make it challenging for homeowners to keep up with the market when investing in their own homes. Trends in design, which once had lifespans calculated in decades, are now changing in a matter of years. As home tech advances more rapidly, updates to the home that could be obsolete in a few months are becoming a real possibility.

Brett Jurgens: Homeowners simply don’t know enough, or have enough information, about their home. Without a baseline of knowledge or data, homeowners are subjecting their homes, and everyone and everything inside, to potential danger. 

Tom Seeger: Our clients are looking to make their kitchens more current without spending money that they would not recover when they sell. With so much awareness of the most current looks and colors that they see on HGTV-type shows, they are very conscience of what they want their kitchen to look like. Doing it in an affordable way is key. It is essential that it is durable and lasting.

Dan Steward: Choosing the right home inspector who uses the modern technology available today to detect some of the most harmful materials in the home, such as mold and radon, is essential. This is a fragmented industry with many independent inspectors and some franchised companies.

How can homeowners protect and invest in their largest asset — their home?

ST: The best way to view investment in your home is from the standpoint of quality. The bottom line is that quality is not trendy and is not a fad. Quality provides life-long service, retains value and is attractive regardless of the current trends in the market. Whatever component, upgrade or update you are planning for your home, be sure to consider it from the quality standpoint first.  

BJ: Lack of innovation in home insurance is causing homeowners to be underinsured, and insurance companies are seeking solutions to change the current landscape. These solutions can detect movement in the home, change in temperature, water leaks and potential fires — a smart home sensor encompasses all of these solutions. Smart home sensors that can track for these home altering events also allow insurance companies to provide better coverage to homeowners, arming them with data and notifications that can protect their home from potential home-altering damage.

TS: Kitchens have become the focal point of the home. Investing in moderate kitchen-renovation projects produces one of the best returns on the value of the home. Moderate kitchen projects involve professionally refinishing the cabinets. If that doesn't achieve the desired update, the cabinet doors and drawer fronts can be replaced with a simple shaker style, and all components can be finished to match. 

DS: One great way to invest in your home is to make sure nothing is missed during the home inspection that could be used to fairly negotiate a better price if you are a buyer. For sellers, have a home inspection done prior to putting the house on the market. Find small things that can be quickly and inexpensively repaired before they come up from the buyer’s end. We also recommend homeowners have their homes inspected every five years, whether they are planning to sell soon or not. 

What new advancements for the home are you most excited about?

ST: Application of new technology, internet of things and home automation are opening up new horizons in home design. Advancements in LEED and green technologies are encouraging sustainability and incorporating new materials/methods in building design. As we move forward, the places in which we live will become more efficient, more responsive and, hopefully, more "homey" than ever.

BJ: Beyond the tools that simply keep homeowners more informed about their in-home activity, I’m really interested and excited about technology that minimizes power consumption, like smart lightbulbs and AC/heating tools. These tools currently exist, but I believe they will push the boundaries further to help homeowners continue to save on energy costs — and to help protect our environment. 

DS: In the area of environmental matters — which consist of mold, indoor air quality and radon — we are trying to look at a holistic approach to give homeowners a healthy environment in which to live. The honing of these disciplines to perfection constitutes a whole new area in home inspection.