Research shows that buyers want — and are willing to pay more for — smart-home features. Here are the top eight you should know inside and out.

Real estate agents know that keeping up with household trends can help them sell more homes as well as help buyers get the features they want. And smart-home and energy-efficient features are sought after.

In fact, according to a Forbes article that looked at Coldwell Banker’s smart home survey, 72 percent of millennials — the largest segment of homebuyers — would be willing to pay $1,500 more for a smart home, and 42 percent would be willing to pay $3,000 more.

Here are eight popular new features agents should keep on their radar in the coming year.

1. Smart locks

Nest x Yale Smart Lock

Credit: Nest/Yale

The smart-home market is expected to grow to $155 billion by 2023. One of the most popular smart-home features is the smart lock. These devices take a conventional deadbolt front door lock and add connectivity to it, which enables homeowners to monitor and control their lock from their phones.

These locks can sense when the homeowner leaves the house or comes home and lock or unlock accordingly.

You can also use a smartphone app to check whether your door is locked or unlocked and opened or closed no matter where you are. You can lock or unlock the door remotely too.

2. Energy-efficient technology

Energy efficiency technologies have improved in recent years and received significant attention. Homebuyers realize that they can save substantial amounts of money on energy by improving efficiency while also reducing their environmental impact.

Energy-efficient appliances, such as Energy Star-certified refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and more, can make a significant difference. Additionally, installing windows, doors and skylights that are Energy Star-approved can reduce energy costs by an average of 12 percent.

Another useful energy saving measure, that is relatively inexpensive, is improving insulation, especially in the attic.

3. Charging stations

Smartphones are an increasingly integral part of our lives. Now, people want them to be integrated into their homes as well.

When charging your many devices, the cords can get in the way and be unsightly. They may also take up outlets that you want to use for other purposes.

Integrated charging stations and wall outlets with USB connections take care of these problems. More homeowners are installing charging stations directly into countertops, drawers and shelves, creating a dedicated space to put devices when they’re charging. This keeps cords out of the way and frees up outlets for other uses.

4. Integrated electronics

Homeowners are also looking to integrate other types of electronics into their homes. In the past, having a large plasma screen TV meant it was a central focus of the room whether it was in use or not. Now, more homeowners are installing setups that allow them to hide such large electronics when they’re not using them.

In this example highlighted by HGTV, the 42-inch plasma display ascends into the ceiling on a pop-up ceiling lift when not in use, and speakers are built into the walls. All of the electronics for this system are stored in a closet and can be controlled using a touchscreen.

5. Smart thermostats

Smart thermostats are a popular smart-home feature that can save homeowners energy and keep them more comfortable. These devices can learn your habits and adjust the temperature automatically for maximum comfort and efficiency. You can also schedule temperature changes and control them via smartphone apps.

A smart thermostat could, for example, learn when you typically get up in the morning for work and when you usually get home. Using this information, it can bump up the temperature on winter weekday mornings so that the house heats up by the time your alarm wakes you up.

When you leave for work, it will turn the temperature down and then raise it back up as you’re on your way home — all without you having to do a thing.

6. Outdoor lighting

Ceiling fans and exterior lighting appear on most wanted lists for millennials, Gen Xers, baby boomers and seniors, according to a National Association of Home Builders survey.

This preference makes sense because exterior lighting has numerous benefits. It’s aesthetically pleasing, but it also has several practical uses including adding curb appeal and highlighting landscaping and other outdoor features.

It’s valuable for security purposes too, and it could deter would-be home intruders, vandals and others.

Exterior lighting also makes it safer for you and your guests to come into and out of the house in the dark by lighting up sidewalks and driveways.

7. Smart doorbells

Another smart-home feature that uses internet connectivity to provide security and convenience benefits is the smart doorbell. These devices have integrated video cameras that allow you to see who’s at your door from your smartphone.

Many of them feature two-way audio, which allows you to, for instance, give instructions to delivery people about what to do with packages if you’re not home.

Some also have motion detection capabilities. If the device detects that someone is at your door, it can send you an alert so that you can check the video feed.

8. Solar panels

Carlo Toffolo /

More homeowners are also now looking for alternative energy sources, namely solar panels, for their homes. These technologies have improved dramatically in recent years. Their costs have gone down as well, making them a practical option for more homeowners.

Using solar energy can help homebuyers reduce their energy costs and their environmental impact. The amount owners can save depends on the amount of sunlight they get, the cost of electricity where they live and the financial incentives that are available to them.

For example, in New Jersey, the average homeowner can save $19,655 over 20 years, according to Energy Sage. In California, the average 20-year savings are $29,424.

For real estate agents, keeping track of the latest trends in home features is crucial. Keep an eye on these eight features and talk them up if the home you’re selling has them.

Kayla Matthews covers smart technology and future trends for websites like VentureBeat, Curbed and Motherboard. You can read more posts by Kayla on her personal tech blog: Productivity Bytes.

Show Comments Hide Comments
Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription