When Selling a Smart Home, Don’t Look Stupid

January 7, 2016

In more home showings today, you may need to show off a home’s high-tech features, including the ability to control lights, thermostats, and a home’s appliances from a smartphone, tablet, or central hub in the home. Smart home technology has grown drastically in recent years as the tech gets easier to use and more affordable. That has put real estate professionals at the forefront of showing off the tech behind how a home can operate smarter.

On Wednesday at CES 2016, the consumer electronics trade show taking place in Las Vegas this week, Coldwell Banker Real Estate sponsored a session — “Selling Smarter: Real Estate and The Smart Home” — that featured both leading smart home companies such as Nest and Lutron and industry experts who highlighted how “smart” has become the next big trend in real estate.

As smart home tech catches on more rapidly, some agents are increasingly talking up the selling points of smart home features in their MLS listing descriptions and taking the time to highlight the features during home tours. Some agents are even exploring staging a home with portable devices to show how buyers can make a home smarter and more connected.

After all, it’s what a growing number of buyers say they want. The Coldwell Banker Smart Home Marketplace Survey, released this week, shows many home owners would be willing to pay extra to “smart stage” their home. Of more than 4,000 Americans polled, more than half of home owners — 54 percent — say they would purchase or install smart home products if they were selling their home and knew that doing so would make it sell faster. What’s more, 65 percent of those home owners said they would be willing to pay $1,500 or more to add such products. 

The products drawing the most attention to smart home technology, according to survey respondents, are centered on security (such as locks and alarm systems), temperature controls (thermostats and fans), lighting systems, and safety (including fire and carbon monoxide detectors and night lights). 

Early expectations were that the smart home would become more mainstream by 2020 or later. But the smart home is here now and abundant products are available to make homes more connected than ever, said Sean Blankenship, CMO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate at Wednesday’s session. The technology has become easier to operate, more connected to other tech devices, and more affordable, panelists said. Coldwell Banker Real Estate is cosponsoring the CES 2016 Smart Home Marketplace, which nearly doubled in size from last year. 

“The Jetsons are here,” said Michael Smith, vice president of sales at Lutron Electronics, a leader in smart home lighting controls. “They are your next-door neighbors now.” 

The technology is expected to continue to increase in popularity as more devices such as those from Nest, Amazon’s Echo, and Lowe’s Iris, among others, join a growing number of partnerships that are expected to broaden the connections that can be made at home. 

As for agents, those who fail to keep up with the Jetsons may find themselves missing an important value differentiator in presenting a home. 

For example, Danny Hertzberg, a sales associate with Coldwell Banker Real Estate in Miami Beach, Fla., said he’s been to a listing appointment where the selling agent didn’t even know how to turn on the home’s lights because she was not familiar with the smart home technology. 

“Smart home technology has become an aspect of differentiation,” Hertzberg said. “It’s one way to stand out when competing against similar properties. ... It’s important for agents to understand the technology because your clients most likely do. It’s your job to add value and to be able to explain how the smart home could make buyers’ lives easier.” 

Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine