In the residential real-estate industry, a term that is popping up more and more is the “smart home.”
This refers to a home that is energy efficient and also refers to The Internet of Things.’
That is another term that is emerging into the lexicon.
“The Internet Of Things.” pertaining to a ‘smart home’ means that many features inside the home are connected to your smartphone, such as the lights, appliances, alarm and thermostat, just to name a few.
This technological innovation has made multiple devices for controlling these things redundant. In addition, by using your smartphone to control all these things, you can do so wirelessly from a longer range, maximizing convenience.
Smart-home technology that can do such things as allow you to control the lights and locks from your phone and receive alerts when the kids get home from school has been on the market for at least a decade. But such devices have been reserved for tech enthusiasts who didn’t mind tinkering with hardware, or those wealthy enough to spend $10,000 on an automated system.
Now, however, major appliance-makers, such as Samsung and GE, are getting in on the market, as is Google. Industry insiders say the smart home is likely only five or so years from going mainstream. While there are concerns that smart technology may become a source of anxiety rather than relief, it promises control over the home that earlier generations could only dream of – and that will be a boon to an aging demographic.
“This (‘The Internet of Things’) always on, always connected ability to connect to everything is just becoming part of our culture,” says Christine Julien, director of the Mobile and Pervasive Computing Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin.
Making smart-home technology’s simplicity to use will also be key to its appeal.
In addition to providing people greater control over their homes and making busy lives easier – imagine being able to turn your stove on during your commute home from work so that the casserole you left in it is ready to serve to the kids the minute you get through the door – smart-home technology also has another key factor in its favor: demographics. A large portion of it is tailored to an aging population.
Whatever a user’s age, smart-home technologies clearly have incredible advantages over their low-tech counterparts – much more than just turning something on or off from your cellphone.
For example, some industry analysts are already anticipating the next evolution, the so-called conscious home. In such a house, devices would be able to learn your habits and adjust to them appropriately.
However, as with any new wireless technology, there are security concerns. For instance, there are concerns that smart-home appliances and devices will create some of the problems they are intended to solve. Security is an obvious one. What happens if someone hacks my front-door lock, for instance? Or would greater control over household appliances become another source of stress?
And with several connected devices already commanding our attention at home, from phones to tablets, adding even more may completely destroy the idea of the home as a place of refuge from all the beeps, alerts and updates of modern life.
But then, if something was going wrong at home, wouldn’t you want to know, even if the message was coming from your refrigerator? If the fridge could have told me back when I was a kid that yes, the stove is off, I think I would have been glad to hear from it, and maybe also be reminded that we were running low on milk. Wouldn’t you? In the next few years, we’ll probably find out.
But, real-estate agents must be able to market these properties, by being up to speed on the overwhelming aforementioned advantages that ‘smart homes’ have to the buyer’s benefit.
Many consumers will be unfamiliar with these two terms, especially the older and growing demographic, who ironically will benefit the most from the ‘The Internet of Things.’
Savvy real-estate agents must be able in their advertising and presentation of ‘smart homes’ to articulate clearly and simply how buying a ‘smart home’ despite the higher up front cost will be an investment that will save them money in the long run and offer the purchaser peace of mind.