By Bob Walsmith Jr.
Santa Barbara Association of Realtors
You often judge a house by its good looks. But guess what? Now you can also judge it by its IQ. Long buzzed-about smart home technology — think smart thermostats, smart lighting, and app-controlled security systems — are moving into more homes. Smart home tech can up your coolness factor and make homes easier to operate. Plus, it may also offer perks when you sell your home.
Home shoppers are increasingly looking beyond that killer kitchen upgrade to a seller’s Wi-Fi signal and connectivity. This isn’t just a priority for the techie set. As smart home technology gets more affordable and easier to use, more people are adding devices.
A Home’s Technology Smarts Matter
Here comes a potential home buyer. Motion-activated lighting automatically turns on as they enter. A smart thermostat adjusts the temperature for ultimate comfort. The smart robot vacuum is keeping the home tidy. The window blinds are adjusting based on the sun’s direction. And the smart speaker is telling them about the home’s features.
Four in 10 Americans have bought a smart home device since the COVID-19 outbreak and are more interested in smart home technology, according to a 2020 REALTOR.com study. The pandemic has driven smart home technology forward. How we interact with our homes is becoming different. At some point, buyers will expect it.
Technology Costs and Buyer Preferences
Consumers between 18 and 34 said they would pay more for homes with home theaters, smart speakers in every room, and connected kitchens, according to the REALTOR.com study. In the 25 to 54 age group, consumers said they’d pay more for solar roof tiles and home battery packs. And for those 55 and older, solar roof tiles, smart doorbells, and security systems would be worth extra money.
You can easily add smart home technology to modernize an older home and help it compete with newer ones. After all, many home builders offer smart home packages to outfit new homes with smart thermostats, app-controlled garage doors, smart lighting, door locks, and video security systems.
Smart home technology investments can range from $20 for adding smart light bulbs to $20,000 or more for automated solutions that connect systems in one hub for an entire house. For $1,500, you can outfit your home with multiple systems like a smart speaker, smart lighting, and a smart thermostat to increase the home’s smart tech appeal. For about $5,500, homeowners could automate the lights, door locks, and thermostat, and install a smart speaker, hub, and smart plugs in three rooms, according to FixR.com.
What Else Adds Smart Tech Appeal
Bigger brand names in smart home technology — like Nest, Ring, and Lutron — have instant name recognition when selling. Ease of use also counts.
With smart devices, you’ll need to be clear about what stays and what goes with the home sale. It’s a gray area with some of these devices on what’s considered personal property. It’s important to get this in writing.
3 Ways to Avoid Misunderstandings
1. Find an agent with smart technology expertise. They can help avoid hiccups in selling a smart home and tend to be savvy tech marketers.
2. Identify which of your smart home technology devices or apps are real property versus personal property. In general, items affixed or hardwired to a house stay. If you plan to take your Nest thermostat or Ring doorbell, replace it before listing.
3. Turn over the virtual keys. On closing day, turning over the passwords in a smart home is like turning over the key to the front door. For all transferable technology, reset it to factory settings to erase any personal data. Leave instruction manuals or website links for the new owners.
Smart home technology is improving safety, security, and convenience in homes. Homeowners should also consider the benefits they’ll have when they sell one day. Just like curb appeal, high home appeal may make your home a standout to buyers.
Bob Walsmith Jr. is a native to Southern California and a Realtor® with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties in Santa Barbara. During his work with the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors, Bob has served on the CORE Committee, Education Committee, been Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, and the Multiple Listing Service Committee. He also is on the Board of Directors of the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara. Bob lives in Goleta with his beautiful wife Julie. When not working, Bob enjoys playing golf, fine wine, fine dining, and walking our beautiful coastline. Bob can be reached at 805.720.5362 and/or firstname.lastname@example.org