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How Real Estate Will Drive Smart Home Adoption

Monday, March 2, 2020   /   by Ken Couture

How Real Estate Will Drive Smart Home Adoption

The Consumer Electronic Show of 2020 (CES) was another amazing display featuring over 170,000 guests crammed into Las Vegas to explore what’s next in the decade ahead.

When it comes to smart homes, there was almost no category unturned. Appliances, toilets, mirrors, garage openers, door locks, shower heads and security systems were all once again on display. All were connected, many could be voice activated, and it’s getting easier to see a future where fully integrated smart homes connect devices that work together to create a seamless and truly helpful holistic user experience.


One of the welcome trends at CES 2020 was a discussion about security and privacy. In a session titled, “2020 Trends to Watch Into the Digital Age,” Steve Koenig, vice president of research at CTA, suggested the Internet of Things (IoT) needed a rebrand to the “Intelligence of Things” for the decade ahead.  


Koenig explained consumers have been able to connect devices to the internet for years. The issue now becomes how to smartly integrate all these devices in a secure way that makes consumers comfortable sharing the data required to make smart homes truly smart.


The concept of the “nudge” is getting consumers comfortable with the technology they engage with because the benefits they receive by feeding it personal data. The beneficial nudge may come in unique ways from real estate industries outside of the technology space.

Builders, real estate agents key proponents


Builders are front and center in smart home technology conversations. Last year at the International Builder Show, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) released data showing that while consumers expect new homes to feature the best in suitability and efficiency, they don’t want to pay extra for it.


From solar panels to energy efficient appliances, builders must find the balance on what’s included and what they’ll pass on to the consumer. This varies wildly depending on the price point. But, no doubt, they will be on the forefront of what consumers want and, in many cases, what is possible with smart technology in the home. Instead of a hodgepodge system that a family creates in piecemeal after buying a home, new homes will start with an integrated ecosystem in mind for a better buyer experience.

Smart tech in rental housing


Smart technology would be wise to not leave out renters. Millennials have stayed renters far longer than previous generations and opportunity abounds for technology companies to use landlords and property managers as a gateway for smart home technology.


The try-before-you-buy approach can be managed much more efficiently at scale in apartment buildings so tenants get a chance to see curated smart tech that everyone is also using around them. Smart locks, appliances, temperature controls, lights switches and smoke detectors are natural fits.


Outside of apartment owners, Main Street and Wall Street single-family investors alike might also embrace a smart home if it helps save money during their ownership or makes their properties stand out to potential tenants. 


Builders and property managers will likely focus on infrastructure smart technology — the stuff behind the scenes that doesn’t get them in the ecosystem wars deciding for the consumer if it’s an Amazon or Google home.

Incentives will be key


Smart devices can be costly and the insurance and utility industries will help by offering incentives, rebates and cost savings through the lens of safety, sustainability and efficiency.

Leak control devices are an excellent example of newer technology in the smart home space offered by brands like Alarm.com, Moen and Belkin. The devices sit at the water main and can detect leaks. It can then shut off water and alert the owner to the leak and where it resides.


Mariel Devesa, global head of business development for Phyn, says she’s seen some insurance companies give 5-10% discounts on premiums for leak-detection technology. Expect those to become more prevalent as these systems prove to be viable and valuable.