Are Your Customers Ready for a Smart Home?

At a Lightovation seminar, Deborah Lace of Coldwell Banker Apex Realtors® in Dallas revealed the wants and needs of home buyers.

[dropcap style=”letter” size=”52″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#dd3333″]Y[/dropcap]ou might wonder what a real estate company knows about lighting,” Lace commented. “Well we know houses, and our customers are also your customers.” According to the results of a recent Coldwell Banker/CNET survey, consumers nationwide are not only embracing smart technology, they’re seeking it out when perusing homes for sale.

For the survey’s purposes, a “smart home” is defined as “a house equipped with smart products connected through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to control or automate the functions of a house. Thermostats that learn to adjust the temperature automatically based on your schedule, light bulbs that you control from your phone, and doors that automatically lock when you leave the house are just a few examples.”

According to Lace, smart homes can increase the marketability of a listing for a seller and 77 percent of affiliated Coldwell Banker sales associates report their home buyers are interested in smart home technology. “We believe this desire will become more prevalent as time goes on,” she noted, adding, “It’s no longer just for the affluent or tech-savvy consumers. It’s affordable and easy to use for everyone.”

To meet this need Coldwell Banker, in cooperation with CNET, created a “smart home” designation and icon that helps consumers quickly identify houses with this capability. “Preliminary data shows that homes designated and marked as a ‘smart home’ on Coldwell Banker’s Web site are receiving two times more engagement (i.e. viewers contacting an agent or requesting more information) than the site average,” Lace remarked.

In response, the real estate company partnered with CEDIA (the home technology trade association) to create the first certified smart home education program for Coldwell Banker agents.

Furthermore, in collaboration with Lutron, August, Nest, and Amazon, Coldwell Banker has created a Smart Home Staging Kit which includes an Amazon Echo Dot, Nest learning thermostat, Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, Nest Cam indoor security camera, August smart lock, August Connect, and Lutron Caséta® Wireless Lighting Starter Kit.  Coldwell Banker charges $999 for its Smart Home Kit, or the seller has the option to equip their home themselves. In either case, the Smart Home products remain with the home when it is sold.

Smart technology is becoming so popular, its appeal is broadening beyond homeowners and into other build environments.

“We’re seeing this technology being used in hospitality projects, condos, and multi-family housing,” Lace says. In fact, Lubbock, Texas has rolled out the first Student Smart Apartment complex, complete with smartphone mobile app intercom, electronic key access, Amazon Echo in every unit, USB wall units, and smart HDTVs.

Approximately half of today’s buyers consider smart home technology a must in order to be considered “move-in ready,” according to Coldwell Banker’s research. Added Lace, “Roughly 71 percent of Americans want a move-in ready home. Of those, 57 percent would consider an older home as ’updated’ if it had smart home technology.”

Following the logic of Coldwell Banker’s success with its Smart Home program, Lace informed the seminar attendees that offering smart home products would put them “at the forefront” in consumers’ eyes and “differentiate your business from your competitors.”

Audience member Ian Loyd, a third-generation lighting veteran from The Light House Gallery in Springfield and Branson, Missouri, stated, “Half of my showroom is dedicated to smart lighting products.” He explained that Millennials as well as Baby Boomers are interested in smart products and are grateful for the expertise.

“When they’re standing in Home Depot, there’s no way for them to know what they need,” he said. For his showroom customers, he starts the smart home conversation by showing them the latest switches/wall controls before seguing into products that have Wi-Fi capability.

Other lighting retailers who attended the seminar said they would consider creating a designated “Smart Home” section in their store or making signage that promoted applicable products more prominent to capture this growing consumer interest. 

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