High-IQ Homes

Trends to watch in the real estate industry.

May 1, 1998

Expect more homebuyers to start asking questions about high-tech homes.

Talk of smart homes--houses with computers that regulate lighting, security systems, appliances, even bath-water temperatures--isn't new. But now they’re becoming a reality.

As technology prices plummet, bringing entry-level home control systems into the $1,000 range (compared with $20,000 five years ago), consumers are saying, "I want."

Nearly 60 percent of consumers polled recently by the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Association, Washington, D.C., said they'd spend $5,000 to prewire a new house.

And J.P. Freeman & Co., a research entity in Newtown, Conn., forecasts that consumer sales of home automation systems and products will explode from $2 billion or so this year to $20 billion by 2005.

To get up to speed, check out the Home Automation Association Web site, hometeam.com.

Retirement Age Ticks Up

Changes are afoot that may affect how you sell to baby boomers.

In the last two years, demographers have seen an upward tick in retirement age, according to Standard & Poor's DRI, a forecasting firm.

Economists say longer life expectancies, less generous pension plans, and the strong work ethic of baby boomers are fueling the shift.

The likely result: a slight change in the types of houses older people will want and in how you market to them, says Judy Slack, director of research and development for real estate consultancy Tom Hopkins International, Scottsdale, Ariz.

They'll want closets big enough to accommodate business wardrobes; home offices; and low-maintenance grounds, not big gardens, says Slack.

Consider depicting older workers in your promotional material--and make sure you outfit them with briefcases instead of golf bags.

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