Smart Homes are becoming increasingly popular with each passing year and their importance to the real estate market is growing in lockstep. If you’re a real estate agent who takes pride in finding homes for your clients then you better get used to being asked the question about what type of smart home technology is included in that potential purchase. Just about everybody in the market for a home today is interested in some level of technological integration into their home to make their lives easier. In this article we take a closer look at what actually defines the Smart home and how important it really is to the real estate industry.
As we take a look through the smart technology available for our homes today you’ll notice that some things aren’t really part of the smart home themselves while others are an integral part. It’s the technologies that are integrated into the infrastructure of the home that should be of most concern to real estate agents and real estate agencies. Smart technology really does have a big part to play in today’s real estate market. In fact, revenue from the Smart Home exceeded $10 billion in the US alone in 2016. Being able to recognize the difference between integrated technology and add-on technology will become key components of how real estate agents sell homes in the near future.
Some Key Statistics
Coldwell Bankers, one of the most respected names in real estate, recently got together with CNET to do a comprehensive study of what defines a smart home and how important it is in the real estate market. What they found was that it is extremely important to homebuyers these days with the vast majority of Americans polled identifying that they considered smart homes to be of great value.
This study also stated that one out of every four homes these days in the US is already what you would consider a smart home. When you consider that smart home technology is still in its relative infancy these are some pretty impressive statistics and these numbers are only going to increase with time. It’s estimated that Smart Homes will represent approximately 15.5 % of the US real estate market by 2021 – those are some pretty impressive growth statistics. Just like a mechanic needs to constantly upgrade their skills a real estate agent also needs to upgrade their skills and these days that means knowing what a smart home is and how to sell it.
Defining the Smart Home
Smart Homes don’t necessarily have a standard set of features, but there are some common features which help to define where smart home begins. Perhaps, the two most popular pieces of smart technology that you’ll find in a smart home are the use of smart temperature controls and/or the integration of smart security technology. Along with these particular types of technology there are a whole bunch of other items that can make up a smart home including a category I’d call smart home automation, smart appliances, smart entertainment options, and even some smart controls for the outdoors as well.
It’s likely that stead integration of Smart Home technologies like these will lead to the rapid adaptation of Smart Home technology over the next few years. In Canada for example only about 12% of home owners have any sort of smart device in their home today, but revenue from Smart Home integration is expected to have an annual growth rate of 55.1% between now and 2021.
The home of today would be barely recognizable to someone transformed here from the early 1970s and that has a lot to do with smart home integration – that and the fact that we no longer favorite shag carpets! It’s hard to imagine how foreign a home in 2021 might look to them.
Starts with Whole Home Wi-Fi
There’s one specific catalyst that has signified the rise of the smart home and that catalyst has been the wide adoption of Wi-Fi technology and high-speed broadband Internet connections that have allowed us to connect all of our devices together. In 1994 there were 16 million internet users worldwide representing 0.4% of the world’s population, today that number has risen to 3.6 billion people representing 49.2% of the world’s population!
We are no longer tied down to a desk in our computer room in order to access the Internet over a painfully slow telephone connection either. These days any one of our tablets, smart phones, laptop, or desktop computers among others can access the Internet without any wired connection at all. In fact, many of our TVs are now connected to the Internet as well. This high-speed wireless connection is driving a smart home revolution.
One of the simplest and most common additions to new homes that can be clearly defined as a bit of smart home technology is the introduction of smart thermostats. These little gadgets not only allow us to turn our furnace on or off and kick the air conditioner into gear when needed, but they can actually help us to regulate the climate in our home in a whole bunch of different ways.
The most popular smart home thermostats such as the Nest or Ecobee 3 can actually sense when someone is in a room and adjust the temperature accordingly, they also allow us to access their controls remotely via an app, set up a weekly schedule, and they can send us s alerts when the temperature range in our homes seems a little unusual. These types of devices are truly making our homes much smarter and in turn making a much more comfortable life for our families.
Another key component of today’s smart home is the use of various different security solutions. In fact, in a recent survey by Icontrol as many as 90% of respondents identified family security as their main reason for being interested in Smart Home technology. Smart Home security often includes smart doorbell cams, motion sensor technology, video cameras, and smart door locks that allow us to control who can access our homes.
The doorbell cams are a really interesting addition in the last couple of years in the smart home technology category and they do not only act as a traditional doorbells, but they also include a built in camera that allows you to see who’s at the door without getting up. In fact, many of these doorbell cameras will actually notify you via an app no matter where you are in the world and allow you to communicate with whoever’s at your front door. If you also happen to have a smart lock attached to that door then you can decide if you want to let that guest into your home or not.
Video cameras and motion sensors may be things we’re more familiar with, but what makes them part of the new smart home is the ability to access them remotely also using various apps. In many cases you can actually control the angle that the camera’s angled at and they really do increase your sense of security when not at home. With all of the smart technology around the would-be burglar is quickly deterred.
Smart Home Automation
Where things really get interesting is in the category of home automation and this involves things such as controlling your lights without getting out of a chair or when you’re not even home. While it’s not as common there are also homes that actually allow you to use smart technology to control your blinds. At the moment the technology required to control your blinds remotely is a little bit more expensive than most people can afford, but using smart technology to control the lights in your home is becoming commonplace.
In the Icontrol survey we mentioned above respondents have also identified home automation as something they expect to become commonplace in the next few years. More than 50% said they expect that there will be one remote (or perhaps your tablet?) that controls everything in the home within the next ten years. This keen interest in Smart Home technology is something that the real estate industry simply can’t ignore.
Where real estate agents are going to have to pay closer and closer attention to in the coming years is with respect to smart appliances. Many of the latest kitchen fridges and even some stoves have integrated tablet type technology built right into them that allow you to quickly create a grocery list, check for a favorite recipe, or ask for advice on how to cook a certain item.
Many of the technologies we’ve already discussed homeowners can bring with them, but normally when we buy a home we take on the appliances that it comes with so if smart technology in your appliances is important to you it’s going to be an item that you want your real estate agent to look for as they look for that perfect home for you and your family. They’re not currently widespread due to the expense of such items, but as the prices continue to come down it’s expected they will be in the majority of homes within the next 20 years.
Our home entertainment options have become increasingly integrated into our homes with the growth in smart home technology. The smart TV that’s wired directly to our wireless network has become a very popular option in our homes these days. These TVs do more than just let you watch your favorite TV programs – they also allow you to interact with those TV shows and use apps right on your screen as you go. In the not too distant future we’ll be able to pause a TV program in our living room and continue watching it on the built-in tablets on our refrigerator.
The idea behind the smart home is to make our lives more convenient and more secure and with this type of technology that’s exactly what they’re doing. Again, smart TVs aren’t directly part of a smart home, but how they integrate with other smart technologies such as our appliances will become a key feature in selling the smart home in the future. Our home’s will become part of our entertainment hub and technology such as Alexa is already pointing us in that direction. In a recent survey as many as 40 % of respondents said that they would be purchasing a smart home device this year with the focus being on entertainment.
Don’t Forget the Outdoors
An aspect of the smart home that’s often overlooked is the growing trend towards outdoor smart home technology as well. This includes things such as automatically controlling the outdoor lighting on your home, but should also include automated sprinkler systems as well. Sprinkler systems that operate on timers have been around for years, but the newest sprinkler systems can also be controlled using your Wi-Fi network and an app. For example, you may set your sprinkler system on the timer and then go out for the evening only to find out that it’s going to rain all night. Obviously, having the sprinkler system on at the same time will be a total waste and when you have access to your system via an app that’s no longer a problem. People love anything that makes their life more convenient, but most of all they enjoy technology that gives them control. The level of control that we have with today’s smart home technology is unprecedented in human history. Never before have we been able to control our environment so completely – even if that environment is just the house and piece of land that we call home.
Brokers Ignore the Smart Home at Your Peril
What do all of these different types of smart home technology we’ve talked about mean for the real estate agent and real estate industry?Basically in simple terms it means the industry and individual agents need to rethink how they sell a home and what their fundamental understanding of what homebuyers are looking for is all about.
While it’s true that many of the technologies we think of as making up the smart home aren’t necessarily integrated into the construction of the homes themselves there definitely appears to be a perception among homebuyers that smart homes are on the market these days and is to the advantage of every real estate agent to begin thinking in these terms as well.
The types of things which may actually be part of the infrastructure of a home we’d be looking to purchase include security features such as doorbell cameras, smart locks, smart thermostats, and smart home appliances. The other things that we’ve talked about people can bring with them when they move from one home to the other, but these particular items are a part of the home themselves and these are the types of things that people will be looking for is a search for new homes in the future.