By Guest Blogger Chandler Peterson

The Smart Home has gone into overdrive! Whether controlling air conditioning, security cameras or lights from the push of a button on your cell phone, the era of home automation is here.

Do Smart Homes have a competitive edge in property sales?

In the resale market, most REALTORS® I spoke with answered that most often they do not. Conversely, builders indicated that Smart Home offerings comprised some of their most frequently selected upgrade packages.

Outside of younger tech-hungry buyers, REALTORS® like Danielle Racke at Red House Realty in Phoenix found that automation is “something that has to be demonstrated before clients buy into the ‘wow’ factor of the conveniences that these technologies can add to the home.”

“Ease of use for the client is paramount,” said REALTOR® Sandra Wilken with Engel & Volkers in Scottsdale. “Depending on how many systems are integrated throughout the home, this can go from a quick press-the-button demonstration to something requiring a system expert to train a new home owner on how everything works.”

Which technologies add the most value?

A few trends remain constant between builders and REALTORS®. In higher-priced listings, these systems go from being hip and considered a bonus to being a must-have.

According to Robert Joffe of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, “Not having Smart Home features often leads buyers to consider a property dated and removes it from consideration.”

Systems that are simple-to-use will catch a client’s attention, like a one-touch button that operates the blinds or turns off the lights. Beyond lighting, systems that get the most interest are smart thermostats, remote surveillance systems, remote control door locks and smartphone accessible systems.

The most surprising commentary was about home theaters. REALTOR® Joffe added that most buyers find a dedicated home theater a nice touch, but rarely use them. Builders agree.

According to Kevin Rosinski at Toll Brothers, the dedicated “home theater has all but gone away. Buyers today want the theater experience in the living or family room,” adding that “100 percent of homes in our newest communities have some level of home automation.”

“We wanted to be on the front lines of this evolution by including a Smart Home brain in every new home in our Stonebridge in the Foothills development,” said Chad Williams, COO at Pepper Viner in Tucson. They use home automation systems controlled by iPads and install integrated USB ports in master bedrooms and kitchens.

What’s next?

One up-and-coming technology is automated ventilation systems with integrated smart shades and fresh air vents. Imagine your home knowing when to let fresh or cooler air in, and when to raise or lower solar shades to keep your HVAC system running more efficiently.

While some may question the financial value of Smart Homes in today’s market, there is no doubt that these systems provide savings, convenience and more efficient management of the resources our homes consume.

Click here to see the Smart Home Checklist from the Online Trust Alliance.

Related story: Where to Find Smart Homes in the U.S. (No. 1 Phoenix, AZ)

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