Is a Smart Home a Smart Buy?

by Steve CookJanuary 8, 2019

Any home can become “smarter” with the addition of a smart speaker to access Alexa, Cortana, or Siri hooked up to thermostats, light switches, television sets, and the garage door. Add a Ring security system, and a robot vacuum cleaner and your house will probably be the smartest in the neighborhood.

Most homeowners can buy and install these themselves, but owners can’t compete with a smart home built from scratch by a professional home builder. They have all the amenities listed above plus excellent Wi-Fi in every room, switches that unlock doors and dim lights, sensors and camera to detect motion and smoke, motorized blinds, a gizmo that turns water faucets and showers off and on, and a hub using Z-wave technology hooked up to a router to make sure everything runs smoothly. About 35 percent of all newly built homes today come with at least one device that uses smart-home technology.

smart home

Smart home builders believe an “automated home” gives them a competitive advantage over existing homes and traditionally-built new homes that require owners to get up and open the front door when it rings and turn a faucet manually. Automated homes are particularly popular with millennial buyers.

Pros and Cons of Smart Homes

Pros

  • Some systems allow you to better monitor and regulate your energy use.
  • Lighting and remote communication help keep your house secure when you are away by creating the illusion of someone being at home.
  • Automation can even adjust watering times for your garden or lawn.
  • Checking your doors and windows remotely reduces your security concerns while you’re away.

Cons

  • Available systems are incredibly varied. Be sure to research your system thoroughly before you buy.
  • Different brands aren’t always compatible with one another.
  • Most systems have a monthly subscription fee. It’s important also to be aware of the additional fees hidden within contracts. Read contracts thoroughly to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  • All systems require power to operate, so be sure your home has a backup power supply. Blackouts and brownouts can render your systems inoperable. Smart home automation systems won’t work without a reliable internet connection.

smart home hub

Cost and Value

An automated home system that is bought and installed by the owner can cost from $40 for a starter kit to $15,000 for a hardwired system, according to Jeff Collins of the Orange County Register. Hardwired systems are preferable to wireless and are much easier to install as a house being built than retrofitting an existing home. Most builders consider smart home technology to be a standard feature and do not charge more for it.

For a homebuyer considering buying a home, a built-in hardwired smart home system will add value to the home and make the home easier to sell, just as homes with central air conditioning systems are worth more than homes with window units. As time passes, smart home living will become part of American home and hardwired systems will become the norm. Hardwired systems will become a standard feature, and homes without them will be penalized just as buyers expect to find central air conditioning today.

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About The Author
Steve Cook
Steve Cook is editor and co-publisher of Real Estate Economy Watch. He is a member of the board of the National Association of Real Estate Editors and writes for several leading Web sites, including Inman News. From 1999 to 2007 he was vice president for public affairs at the National Association of Realtors.