Smart homes will soon be the norm, not the exception

Coldwell Banker exec says everything from smart locks to thermostats add value to a home — and will soon be essential

Here are just a few things you can already do from a phone: Lock your front door, turn up the heat, flush a toilet, and play music out of a light bulb.

Those tasks are all possible from a phone thanks to smart home technology, something that Coldwell Banker associate broker and vice president of marketing Angel Piontek believes adds real value for homes going to market, and which is likely to become a de facto requirement for houses in the future — even though such technology raises many concerns and questions.

Piontek, who spoke Tuesday afternoon on a tech discussion panel at the Inman Connect New York 2019 real estate conference, argued that there are a number of common sense smart home devices that homeowners ought to consider.

Obviously smart thermostats, such as Google’s Nest, have already become popular. But Piontek noted there are also more advanced devices, such as ones that will intelligently water a lawn based on weather and environmental conditions.

Piontek also highlighted a light bulb that doubles as a speaker and a home security system that doesn’t require users to pay for a subscription.

The point was to single out a few interesting devices, but also to emphasize that installing such items could translate into hundreds or thousands of dollars in added value for a home that is on or about to hit the market.

“You can use it as a marketing tool, it definitely facilitates a faster sale,” she said of smart home tech, echoing a similar point that a number of device manufactures have made in recent years.

Even more importantly, Piontek envisions a day in the near future when buyers will expect at least basic smart home devices on any move-in ready home.

“It’s going to be an expectation pretty soon,” she said. “Pretty soon a buyer walking into a house is going to expect a smart thermostat, expect every home to have a camera.”

Some homebuilders are already facilitating this trend, such as Lennar, which partnered with Amazon last year to install devices and systems in its new homes that can be controlled using Alexa, the tech company’s voice-activated digital assistant.

That shift will certainly be a boon to device manufacturers, though Piontek also noted Tuesday that not every question surrounding the technology has been answered.

What does it mean for consent and privacy, for example, when a home with a security camera network has showings? Or, how does a seller transfer the digital access to a house to a new owner?

“You’re giving virtual keys,” Piontek said of the latter scenario.

The questions raise serious issues related to privacy, rights, and the responsibility sellers have when making disclosures.

Piontek didn’t have answers for all of those questions Tuesday, but was confident that, like it or not, smart home technology is going to become more widespread, and even smarter.

Email Jim Dalrymple II