Smart home products are great, but how do you decide what stays and what goes when you’re selling a home with these upgrades?

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Smart homes are awesome but what happens when it’s time to sell?

Before the property is listed, it is a good idea to determine what items the seller is willing to leave behind and what they’d prefer to take with them. If a potential buyer sees a video doorbell, smart lock and thermostat in the home during a showing they’re going to expect them to stay with the house.

Often homeowners will want to take their video doorbells, however I recommend leaving them in place. It’s always nice to see who’s coming and going.

Be sure to leave behind any tools required to access and factory reset devices, and remove them from any accounts prior to closing. That way the next owners can get them set up with new accounts once they’ve got their internet connected. Moving can be an excuse for the sellers to upgrade to the latest and greatest version of a product.

Smart security devices

When selling a home with a smart lock, it is important to reset the master code just as you would normally change locks. Some manufacturers require the original owner to log into the account and release the lock prior to disconnecting it.

Watch out for locks where the master code is written on the back of the battery door. Be sure it is secure and not easily accessible so that visitors can’t create new codes without the owner’s knowledge. 

Fixtures vs. personal property

Think about what might be considered personal property such as hubs, controllers, theater equipment and voice assistants. These might be critical for the operation of devices, along with an active internet connection.

If they are to be included, the new owner will still need to learn how to use them and get them set back up. Sometimes it may be better to just remove items ahead of time and either keep them for the next house or sell them online.

If the product is physically installed in place, it may be considered a fixture and should convey with the home. This includes things like video doorbells, smart locks, switches and thermostats. These features do help the home sell and should be highlighted in the marketing of the property.

Sometimes sellers will decide to remove all the extra smart home equipment if the property is in a price point where it wouldn’t be common and could intimidate potential buyers. Smart switches are one area where the ROI may not always be there, but switches such as Lutron Caseta still function as one would expect with out utilizing the smart aspects. The cost to have an electrician remove them may not be worth the hassle.

It’s a good idea to inventory all the smart products in the home, determined which are personal property vs. fixtures, what needs to be removed ahead of time, and how everything is connected. This will help for both marketing the property but also for when it is time to hand everything off to the new owner. 

Brandon Doyle is a Realtor at Doyle Real Estate Team — RE/MAX Results in Minneapolis and co-author of Mindset, Methods & Metrics – Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. You can follow him on Twitter.

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