Lutron Caseta Light Switches

I recently finished a Lutron Caseta light switch setup. When people ask about smart light switches, I always steer them toward Caseta. Why? As opposed to Philips Hue or other bulb solutions, Caseta has the smarts in the switch, not the bulb. This makes more sense for many reasons. First, if the tech smarts fail for some reason, the light switch is still a real light switch. Second, you can choose any bulb you’d like, with particular warmth and quality you choose. And third, in my experience Caseta is more dependable and bulletproof than other solutions.

Smart lights aren’t a necessity and many folks won’t find any utility in them. I enjoy being able to hook them up to smart speakers such as HomePod. This makes it easier to turn on and off lights if you’re running around and have your hands full. It’s also easier to set up automations for when you’re out of town. They even can be set up with sensors to automatically turn on. All of these are minor improvements though, so this is still a nice-to-have, not a critical part of your technology.

There are other switch based solutions, but Lutron is a big name that has been doing this for a while. I wholeheartedly recommend them. (Not an ad)

More Online Real Estate Tools

We previously mentioned several online real estate tools. Some other sites include:

This is one of the few sites that also list foreclosures. The online foreclosure information is a bit of a racket. It should be easily searchable free information as it is provided by local courthouses. But all sites that offer foreclosure information charge regular fees. Even HotPads does so, but if you know a neighborhood, you can often determine the house under foreclosure using their detailed maps.

HotPads is good for market research, as it breaks down household income, population density, age, and rent ratio. You can see in this map that the very north of Arlington has relatively few foreclosures, while everything beyond it in Virginia is near or above a rate of 1 in every 150 houses under foreclosure. D.C. and Maryland have fewer foreclosures, presumably because state laws there have made foreclosures take longer for the banks.

Homesdatabase is another search site that allows you to search for MLS listed houses without needing a realtor.

Online Real Estate Tools in Washington D.C. Area

Whether you’re buying, selling, or just want to know what’s going on, it’s easier than ever to follow real estate online.

Finding Comparables

Zillow provides a property value estimate based on neighboring comparables and their sale prices. It was started in 2005 by the people who started because they were frustrated that these tools were only available to real estate agents.

Real Estate Listings

Google recently added Real Estate to their Maps option. Google Base also recently began listing Real Estate with full search capabilities.

Long and Foster has been one of the most popular sites to search MLS listed properties.

Credit Report

Before buying a house, you need to know your credit score. You should also check it occasionally just to be sure that there are no errors. It is not uncommon to find that someone has impersonated you or that the credit agency just got something wrong. allows you to request your credit report for free once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

Mortages provides a good starting point for finding mortgage rates.

If you are in the Military or part of a Military family, consider Pentagon Federal Credit Union or the Navy Federal Credit Union. There are local offices in Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland.


If you understand the comparables and have done the search yourself, you should consider a low-cost realtor.

Both ZipRealty and PenFed Realty (for Military personnel) both offer low fees or cash back.

Real Estate News

The Washington Post – Real Estate section provides real estate news and stories in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland.