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Smart devices redefine the art of buying and selling a home

As the Internet of Things permeates more homes, potential buyers increasingly expect mobile-enabled connected devices to be included, prompting the real estate industry to forge partnerships with smart technology providers.

The omnipresence of smartphones has led to the growing expectation that most portable devices should offer Wi-Fi connectivity, a belief that includes objects such as remote controls, thermostats and door locks. Several real estate brands have already entered into partnerships with smart home technology marketers, in a bid to provide their selling agents with more ammunition to close sales and entice mobile-savvy buyers.

?Without a doubt, companies must concentrate on leveraging and illustrating the potential of the smart home to attract and inspire potential buyers,? said Michael Becker, managing partner at mCordis. ?Smart homes are a mega trend that will change the fabric of society and commerce over the next decade. People are connected, and as these connections increase, the technology shall be receded into the background, and the higher value-added expectations from the services ? event triggers, synchronization of digital and physical experiences, predictive support and coaching ? that feed into homes shall take a forefront position. 

?Every home with a smartphone has connectivity in it,? he said. ?By 2020, it is expected that 24 million connected smart homes will exist, homes where connected devices are funneling through a centralized hub for the management and coordination of connected services. 

?Samsung has committed that all its devices will be connected over the next five years, as has Under Armour.  Real estate companies must stay on the forefront of this trends, which includes building connected competencies (people, processes and technology), as well as forging new partnerships.?

The next-generation homebuyer
As mobile-minded millennials begin purchasing their first homes, real estate brands must start arming themselves with an onslaught of technology-first marketing tools that will help them keep these consumers? interest.

According to Coldwell Banker?s Smart-Home Marketplace Survey, approximately 45 percent of Americans already own smart home devices or plan to invest in them this year. More tellingly, 54 percent of survey respondents claimed they would purchase smart home items if they were in the process of selling their properties and knew this tactic would speed up the process.

This phenomenon is likely to prompt realtors and real estate brands to urge their clients to invest more heavily in this technology.

Additionally, 58 percent of consumers said that smart security devices would be the most appealing items if a potential new home came with this technology pre-installed.

?Most people are buying a home to meet the needs of a family,? said Jeff Lyman, chief marketing officer of Vivint. ?Smart home technology makes a home more functional.

?Whether it?s two working parents, a single parent, they will look at technology to see if it will make their life easier and better. Realtors need to be qualified to speak to all facets of the home experience, particularly how technology can serve the needs of the family.?

Other enticing devices for families could be mobile-enabled door locks and cameras, as well as thermostats. If one or both parents work during the day, they can use these devices to make sure the home is unlocked and comfortable for their children when they arrive from school.

Generating customer demand
Demand for smart home devices can be stirred up for consumers who do not vocalize their desire for these types of products. If real estate brands join forces with smart home providers and equip their agents with the proper knowledge, they will be more likely to win over the average homebuyer ? even one not belonging to the millennial demographic.

Per Coldwell Banker, older generations are adopting aspects of smart home technology faster than their younger counterparts. Forty percent of individuals over age 65 owning these products currently have smart temperature devices.

If an agent is having difficulty with a sale, mentioning the availability of these kinds of mobile-controlled options will likely help the persuasion process rather than harm it.

A Sears Holdings executive at eTail West 2016 discussed how the retailer is foraying into sales of smart home devices by creating demand among homeowners unsure of how the products may benefit their lives (see story).

?There has been a big push toward the Internet of Things among manufacturers of home products,? said Shuli Lowy, director of mobile and social media marketing at Ping Mobile. ?AC systems, washing machines, fridges, locks, are all adopting forms of smart communication. The major improvements over the last several years have focused on remote control through mobile devices.

 ?The next step is to have appliances that better communicate with each other. Instead of having each device communicate with the homeowner, the devices could communicate with each other and thus streamline the running of a household.?

Consequently, the real estate sector is well-positioned to experience an evolution inspired by the proliferation of the Internet of Things. As vehicle manufacturers continue delving into connected car technology, consumers will expect these new experiences to carry over to every other part of their daily lives.

?Beyond the benefits to homeowners, you can see how the real estate market will also evolve to differentiate listings based on smart home features,? said Stephanie Trunzo, chief operating officer and chief digital officer of PointSource. ?One of the most popular ways that realtors currently entice buyers is through home warranty, providing potential buyers peace of mind that the home is in good shape and any issues that crop up will be handled.

?Similarly, smart home technology can provide a modern version of that comfort. Imagine advertising a home that is able to prove its systems are in shape, beyond waiting for the results of a manual inspection.?