“Alexa, sell my Beacon Hill condo above market value,” may not yet be a command your smart home device understands (and we doubt that AI will ever fill the shoes of an experienced real estate agent, well I hope not), but the Internet of Things is definitely shaping the way we buy and sell Boston Beacon Hill condos. In this tech real estate blog post we’ll cover the basics as well as some simple smart home additions that can be used to boost the curb appeal of Boston luxury condos
Getting to know the “Smart Home”
You are now approaching your future smart home. Your security system already knows you’re on your way, the garage door opens without you doing anything, and the temperature is set exactly where you like it when you come inside. Because your refrigerator texted you earlier, you’ve already picked up milk.
Convenience is always nice, but security and safety are the big reasons that homeowners are investing in smart home technology. Leak detectors in the basement can send an alert about high moisture levels, cameras on the driveway can monitor for package thieves, and lights that turn off and on remotely can make it look like someone’s home when they’re not. The best part is, it’s all wireless.
But does having a voice-controlled speaker that turns on the lights mean you can call your home “smart”? There are no strict definitions, but real estate professionals generally agree that a “smart home” is one with at least three smart devices, at least one of which controls security or temperature. Misleading buyers by marketing your Boston condo for sale as “smart” when it’s not may get you more showings, but it’s not going to pay off in the long run.
There’s another reason that smart homes provide a challenge for real estate agents: Not all devices convey. Generally, sales contracts apply to the immovable “or fixed” parts of the home, but sellers may want to take things like a smart home hub, cameras and more with them. That means the exciting experience that buyers had when they first toured the home, where lights turned on ahead of them and the thermostat could be controlled by voice, may not exist after they buy the home unless they negotiate for the devices as well. Consult with your real estate agent when making an offer.
Smart Home Trends
In 2010, less than one percent of homes nationwide had at least three smart devices, according to a study cited on realestatetechnews.com. In 2017, 12% of homes did. And in 2019 that number may double.
In Boston, which tends to be a tech-forward city, the rate of adoption may be even higher. In fact, Boston new apartment buildings in the downtown Boston are leading the way with integrated smart technology in every unit. When these apartment-dwellers transition to buying their first home, you can bet they’re going to expect some similar features.
In fact, 80% of people who already have smart devices say they would be more likely to buy a home if it came with connected tech in place, according to a 2018 survey by CNET and Coldwell Banker. Even if they haven’t used smart home technology before, most home buyers respond positively to it when they come across it during their real estate search. In fact, 40% of real estate agents in that survey said that smart home technology had a positive impact on the home sale.
Of course, it’s millennials who are turning the tide on this one. According to the 2018 National Association of Realtors’ Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, this generation now makes up the largest group of potential homebuyers across all real estate segments.
It’s not surprising that millennials also make up 43% of the estimated 40 million Americans using smart home technology. Still, Americans 55 and older make up a sizable 24% of the market, and they tend to put their dollars into devices offering home security and energy efficiency (such as smart thermostats). Younger homeowners prefer to invest in smart home entertainment systems.
Which Boston Homes Benefit from Smart Technology?
If you’re looking to invest in some smart home technology before you list your home on the Boston real estate market, and you’re willing to give the devices to the buyers when you move out, they may be able to give your home a competitive advantage.
Of course, median priced homes are still moving quite well in Boston Beacon Hill. As we covered in a recent blog post.
On the other hand, the Boston luxury condo market has cooled considerably in Boston and will continue to decline in the coming years. That means sellers of luxury homes — and their real estate agents — need to get more creative in attracting buyers. Smart home devices can go a long way toward adding that “luxury feel” and making everyday life for homeowners more convenient. Luxury homes often need a “wow” factor, and enough smart tech can provide it.
Smart Home Staging – Our Real Estate Team Recommendations
Staging homes with smart technology may be next trend on the Boston real estate market. Below are some reasonably priced options.
- Voice-activated speaker with screen. Display prominent home features on the screen for buyers and their real estate agents when they walk in the home. The device can also respond to voice prompts like “play music” or “show front door camera”. The Amazon Echo Show is the leading product in this category, at around $200.
- Video doorbell. These tiny cameras use a battery or your existing doorbell wiring to record and store video or feed it to your smartphone or other devices. Some work with other smart devices such as door locks and sirens and support Alexa voice commands. We recommend the Ring Video Doorbell for around $200. For home staging, these devices work best with a corresponding screen (like the Echo Show) so that buyers can see the action for themselves.
- Smart lock. In staging, it’s all about curb appeal, and buyers can see the usefulness of a smart lock as soon as they walk up to the front door. Although keypad entries are becoming more and more common, only smart locks have geofencing features, which means they can unlock automatically when you approach the door holding your smartphone or other connected device. Real estate agents and others (such as the maid or home inspector) can be given temporary access codes that only work during certain hours of the day. Check out the Schlage Connect Touchscreen Deadbolt, also $200.
- Smart thermostat. With Portland requiring home energy scores for the majority of homes listed on the real estate market, buyers are going to have energy efficiency on their mind. Although a smart thermostat won’t impact your home energy score, most buyers are aware that these devices can help curb consumption with customized schedules and the ability to turn off the heat from anywhere using a smart phone. The Nest is by far the most popular option, starting at around $200.
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