The benefits of smart home technology discussed at Realtors® Expo.
The session—led by Craig Grant, CEO of The Real Estate Technology Institute & RETI.us and Brandon Doyle, a Realtor® from Maple Grove, Minnesota—offered a wealth of insight into how beneficial smart homes are to their businesses.
“A Realtor® doesn’t have to invest a lot of money into making a house a smart home,” said Grant. “Just having a few devices in specific categories, such as certain lighting, security cameras, or appliances, qualifies a home to be a smart home.”
If a property has a reliable internet connection and “smart” items in at least three categories, it is considered a smart home. Realtors® can then market the home as such, making it a more attractive commodity for both buyers and sellers.
“These homes were once only for the ultra rich, but we’ve gone from only super-wealthy people like Bill Gates having these products to every home now having at least one or two smart items,” said Doyle, who is a best-selling author, and host of the YouTube channel, Home Tech Decisions.
“Amazon basically lets you have a lot of these for free because they know it’s like a gateway drug and they’ll get you to buy other devices,” he joked.
Both Grant and Doyle noted that 33% of homes already meet the requirements to be called a smart home and that number is expected to climb to 54% by 2023. Currently, 26% of baby boomers have smart home technology within their residences, 49% of Generation Xers, and 77% of millennials, according to their presentation.
The popularity of smart home products, like lighting systems, carbon monoxide detectors and digital thermostats, have grown in popularity in part because they are now being built with ease of use in mind. So, complexities and difficulties to access products like a smart refrigerator for example, have largely been eliminated.
“Smart home technology can now be used by seniors and those with disabilities to assist them in day-to-day activities,” said Grant.
The wish to age in place is a popular concept among buyers and sellers. Grant noted that Realtors® can educate older buyers or their family members regarding how smart products can help make life easier for the elderly. Given the item, smart home devices can help users remember to eat or take medications, allow family or caregivers to interact remotely or receive notifications in case of a fall or injury, and even offer voice-activated assistance with curtains or shades, or offer visual assistance for the blind or hearing impaired.
While smart home technologies and advancements provide a number of conveniences, Grant stressed there are concerns and risks to these luxuries.
“Some of these come with a default password and if that password isn’t changed, you open yourself to a hacker having access,” he cautioned. “In other cases, some smart devices are always listening or recording.”
Grant says users should go to the devices’ settings and disable these features in order to safeguard privacy.
Both speakers expressed that Realtors® have an obligation to know the rules and requirements in regard to selling a smart home. They added that Realtors® should explain all hazards and possibilities to clients—whether they are buyers or sellers—such as violating privacy laws or failing to disclose whether or not a product is included after a home sale.
On the whole, Grant and Doyle said smart home technologies should impart security, convenience, energy efficiency, a cost savings and a home’s comfort, and stressed that while there are some risks, the positives overwhelmingly outweigh the negatives.