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Why U.S. Real Estate Is Embracing Smart Home Tech and the U.K. Isn’t

Back in September, we asked if now was the time to invest in smart home technology. Adoption rates were up, but when it came to real estate, the results were mixed. But that’s hardly surprising; understanding a new market like this is always tricky.

Luckily, we have the U.K. as an example. In fact, a direct comparison with the U.K. really brings these trends into clearer focus: First, that the U.S. is adopting smart home tech faster than anywhere else, and second, that this really shows how perceptions of the technology shape its impact on real estate.

The U.S. Smart Home Tech Consumer Market

At the most basic level, smart home technology and Internet of Things (IoT) sales aren’t meeting the high expectations initially set for the industry. Smart analysis from Business Insider points to an industry stuck in the gap between an early adopter market and the mass market.

No doubt, overall sales are increasing, but investors and consumers are just wondering when that titanic shift into the mainstream is going to happen. One possibility is actually that a grand shift won’t happen, that smart home products will gradually become standard. When this happens, they will begin to dominate the market as consumers replace their old devices.

Think of the growing market share of more efficient light bulbs. There wasn’t a moment when they became extremely popular or mainstream. Instead, over time, everyday consumers decided to replace dead incandescent bulbs with new ones that were a bit more expensive but used less energy and lasted longer. How does all of this impact real estate, though?

How Home Buyers Really See Smart Home Tech

Obviously, smart home tech isn’t yet a basic assumption in real estate, even for new homes. But the basic question most people are wondering about when deciding whether it makes sense to invest in tech is: Will it increase my home’s value? The simple answer is: no, not yet. But that’s not the entire story. Because conversations with real estate brokers reveal that there is another impact of smart home tech: faster sales. Buyers may not yet be willing to pay an extra $10,000 for an integrated system, but the newness of the smart home market that’s dominated by early adopters adds a lot to a home’s “wow factor.”

How can we make these assumptions and understand the markets like this? In part, it’s because we have a handy experiment going on across the pond. Yes, there’s a lot we can learn from the U.K. here.

Are U.K. Homeowners Investing in Smart Home Tech?

The story is undoubtedly different here. One study found a quarter of all U.S. homes are considering adopting smart home technology over the next 12 months. That number in the U.K. is only 7%, with data from previous years showing even that number could be optimistic. Is the U.K. just at an earlier stage of market development?

It’s unlikely. British consumers have similar buying power and access to smart home tech as U.S. consumers. Considering the wide range of products encompassed in this category, we can rule out narrow reasons connected to single products. This is clearly something larger.

One likely suspect is cultural conservatism. It’s no secret that Americans hold a particular love of the latest and greatest gadgets. It’s clear that British early adopters are less enthusiastic about smart home tech than their American cousins. As a result, the best estimates predict market adoption following a similar pattern to that mentioned above: one driven by replacement.

What does that mean for real estate? It’s a reminder that much of this market is driven by intangible forces like culture and perceptions. Perhaps American cultural influence could have an impact, but for now only time will tell. It’ll have to overcome the perception that this technology is still too expensive and it’s not time to invest in it.

What Does This Tell Us?

Consumers are eminently practical. If smart home tech is going to have an impact in real estate beyond adding “wow factor,” it needs to appeal to bottom lines. That means a focus on products with a proven ability to do things like prevent home water leaks or save on energy bills. Then, over time, once consumers begin to see smart home tech as a baseline for new homes, it may begin to impact prices.


Just How Green is the Smart Home Industry?

 

As it becomes more popular, the smart home industry is gaining a reputation for being green and environmentally conscious. Is it all hype, or is it true? Spoiler alert: it’s true.

The amount of energy (and money) homeowners can save from installing certain smart home devices is seemingly endless. In just one year, Americans spent $241 billion on energy. That’s $2,100 for one household per year! With numbers like that, it’s clear why we need to take steps to reduce usage.

So, how is the smart home industry stepping up its energy-savings game?

Reducing the top energy-usage categories.

The first step to reducing your energy usage is to know your output. Do you know the top suspects that are responsible for draining energy and costing you money?

The top two residential energy usage categories are heating and cooling (45%) and lighting and appliances (34%). Let’s dive a little deeper.

Heating and Cooling

For heating and cooling, programmable thermostats are everything. Installing a Nest thermostat alone earns you the potential to save 10-12% on heating bills and 15% on cooling bills per year, which can really add up! This is one of those devices where customers are typically repaid from their investments in a few short months.

Lighting and Appliances

Out of the 34% mentioned above, lighting alones contributes 25%. What’s the smart home industry’s solution to that? Offer countless options for lighting. Whether it’s motion sensors providing light only when it’s needed or light dimmers setting a more appropriate lighting level, the industry has found so many solutions for the excessive lighting problem. And we didn’t even mention automatic light timers or energy-efficient bulbs!

The appliance piece plays a role in this category, too. Let’s take the new Samsung smart refrigerator, for example. Have you seen that yet? If not, check it out here! While it’s easy to become distracted by all the cool tech features, the refrigerator also boasts some sweet savings, as well. A large-scale example of an 8.6 million cubic foot cold storage facility in Pennsylvania shows a savings of $250,000 per year by using dynamic power controls. Need further explanation of how smart refrigerators are impactful? Find out here.

Aside from the usual energy-using suspects, this blog post from Smart With You highlights three more products that conserve energy and make your home smarter.

Increasing energy usage awareness.

As smart home tech becomes more mainstream, more homeowners are becoming aware of their energy usage and the ways in which they can reduce their carbon footprint. Many companies in the industry are contributing to this, as they’re promoting energy conservation (and therefore, money savings) as a main selling point. And it’s working! People are realizing that small changes can make a large impact (and of course, save money, too).

There are a few other factors to consider in the industry’s rise to the mainstream. First, it’s no longer reserved for the wealthy. Smart home tech devices have dropped in price and retailers have begun to carry the products, making them available at more places than just technology stores and more accessible and affordable for average consumers. Another factor to note is social media, which has a way of making us feel like we always need to be connected. Smart home devices feed into that, creating a constant connection between you and your home. Remote control of everything in your home and 24/7 access to any cameras you have set up are all just a part of the appeal.

Increasing integration.

Individual smart home products have the potential for major energy savings when used on their own. But when put together, that potential soars even more. Integrating multiple smart devices allows for increased efficiency without using much more energy. For example, if you’re going to get a smart home system up and running for one device, you can continually add more devices and use the same system for your entire home.

What are your thoughts on the industry’s strides toward a greener smart home? Have you incorporated any of these smart home features and noticed a significant difference in your home’s energy output? We want to hear about your experience. Leave a comment below!

Sources:

Smart Home
Huffington Post
The Guardian
Forbes


Smart Tiny Homes? Home Automation Isn’t Exclusive to Large Houses

Just because a home is small doesn’t mean it shouldn’t have futuristic features like its larger counterparts. And as we see smart home tech become prevalent in the mainstream and tiny homes rise in popularity, it makes sense to pair the two.

Intel seems to agree, too. The company partnered with Minim Homes and Kyle Schuneman to create what they’re calling a “Living Lab” where they can test Intel’s new Internet of Things (IoT) platform.

Typically, tiny homes lack smart home tech because of space constraints, not because their owners don’t need or want the technology. It’s not always feasible to create room for large smart home gadgets in such a small space. Intel set out to defy that. You can tour the company’s smart home here.

What we took from Intel’s tour is how smart home tech needs vary from a large, single-family house to a tiny home. So what are some popular gadgets we’re seeing in tiny homes? Read on to find out!

 

Security/Home Access

Security in a tiny home is crucial, especially depending on where it’s located. The Intel home features facial recognition technology to unlock the front doors, which provides convenience but also a safety element, as it serves as a camera and lets you see who’s at your door. Plus, you can program it to allow service people (i.e. plumber, cable/Wi-Fi installer, etc.) to gain access when you’re not even home.

Lighting

Lighting plays a bigger role in tiny homes than most people realize. It can make spaces appear larger, create separation between spaces, provide convenience when you’re living so close to another person and more. For example, let’s say you want to stay up and read a book while your housemate wants to go to sleep. Specific smart lighting can appease both parties. In addition to offering convenience, lighting can also be programmed at lower levels to use less energy and save more money.

Climate Control

A small space can heat up or cool down very quickly. To keep a comfortable temperature, you can integrate your thermostat with your fans, blinds or even window tinting. And again, you can do this all from your smart home device that also controls everything else in the home.

Entertainment

Tiny home life is all about downsizing and simplifying. So if the owners of tiny homes can get away with using a smart device to control their TV instead of the typical four remotes, they’re going to do it! It will mean less clutter and easier control over their entertainment throughout the space.

If you owned a tiny home, what smart home features would you make sure you included? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

Sources:

Inhabitat
FYI
Control4
Intel Newsroom


Smart Home Devices That Appeal Most
to Homebuyers

Smart home features are no longer just cool add-ons. They’re actually becoming must-haves for homebuyers, as they search for their move-in-ready homes. In fact, John Burns Real Estate Consulting recently performed a study of more than 22,000 people currently in the market for a new home, and found that 65% of them were willing to pay more for smart home technology packages.

It’s clear this technology is becoming a strong investment strategy for sellers. But how do you decide which devices are worth installing? Below, we’ve curated a list of the smart home technologies that appeal most to homebuyers.

 

Thermostats

The appeal: money savings and energy conservation.

Not only do these devices provide remote control for homeowners, but they’re also self-regulating based on considerations like the homeowners’ daily habits and whether or not someone is in the home. On top of all that, they actually save the homeowner money, too. For example, Nest thermostats save customers about 10-12% on heating bills and about 15% on cooling bills per year.

 

Door Locks

The appeal: added security and convenience.

How many times have you stood outside in not-so-desirable weather as you searched for your keys and tried to unlock the door while your hands were full? Well, luckily those days are over for those who install smart door locks. These locks use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so everything can be done via a smartphone. Some of them can even sense when you’re at the door and unlock it automatically. In terms of security, this prevents having to hide a spare key somewhere outside where it can be found by a stranger. And in terms of selling your home, this could be a great feature to show the potential buyer that you care about smart home technology and the security of your home — it’s a great first impression of the house!

 

Solar Panels

The appeal: money savings and energy conservation.

Endless renewable energy, environmentally friendly power, the ability to monitor panel performance — what could be negative with solar panels? Well, they are certainly an investment. However, the reward is hefty. The U.S. Department of Energy found that solar panels can increase your home’s value by $15,000. They’re also estimated, on average, to save homeowners about $1,500 on utility bills per year. With roughly a $10,000 installation cost, you’ll make your money back rather quickly!

 

Moisture/Leak Sensors

The appeal: peace of mind and potential money savings.

No one wants to buy a home that is potentially mold-infested after an incident with water damage. Smart moisture sensors help the home’s value by detecting humidity, temperature changes and even water leaks before they cause damage. In this case, prevention is without a doubt cheaper than restoration, and homebuyers will appreciate that it’s already installed and ready.

 

Connected Home Systems

The appeal: integration and convenience.

This one may not be the first thing to come to your mind, but it’s becoming more and more important. As homes continue adding smart devices, managing them all can become tedious and time-consuming. Homeowners want a platform where they can easily control all technologies from one place. At the Consumer Electronics Show this year, this was a huge theme. Thought leaders in the industry were raving about the importance of integration if we ever want smart homes to become mainstream. The industry is taking huge strides in integration, and those involved are starting to work together more to benefit the consumer. As a seller, it’s smart to consider installing devices that can all be linked and integrated together on the same platform.

As smart home technologies continue to progress, these devices will become even more prevalent. So now we’re turning it over to you. Which smart home devices can you not live without? If you’re currently selling a home, what are your plans for incorporating smart home features? Leave a comment below!

 

Sources:

UpNest
Coldwell Banker
CBS News
Washington Post