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smart_home_techSmart-home technology is shifting into high gear. By all accounts, 2016 will be the tipping point for consumer interest and adoption, nearly five years ahead of experts’ original projections.

For example, a recent Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey found almost half (45 percent) of all Americans either own smart-home technology or plan to invest in it this year. Additionally, 70 percent of current owners of at least one smart-home device plan to expand into additional technologies.

Why Now?
The concept of automating various aspects of home living has long appeared in science fiction, but now actual technology is catching up. The number of options has increased dramatically, while prices have come down. These developments are happening against a backdrop of strong consumer demand to own more resource-efficient homes.

Popular Options
Smart-home technology is being employed across a wide range of applications, including:

– Automated sprinklers
– Climate control
– Entertainment systems
– Entry door locks
– Kitchen/laundry appliances
– Lighting
– Security systems/cameras
– Window shades

Systems linked to a home’s Wi-Fi network are typically remote controllable via a smartphone app. You can play your favorite music, set a kitchen timer, or even order a pizza, all on your mobile device.

Time to Learn More
With the growing popularity of these devices, it’s essential for buyer’s representatives to pay closer attention to developments. Smart technology will undoubtedly be a growing topic of conversation during buyer consultation sessions and on home tours. It’s important for buyer’s representatives to provide clients with helpful information and insights.

Interest in smart devices also crosses generations and income levels. In fact, the Coldwell Banker survey found that older generations are adopting certain technologies faster than younger ones, and Americans with annual household incomes of $50k to $75k are adopting smart technology at virtually the same pace as households with incomes of $75k to $100k.

Getting Up to Speed
If members of your brokerage aren’t already savvy about smart-home technologies, there are many ways you can encourage them to learn, including:

New GREEN Designation coursesThe Green REsource Council offers the latest training in resource-efficient homes and working with buyers and sellers focused on high-performance properties and renovations.

NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Technology (CRT) – CRT’s new Smart Homes Initiative includes a special lab for testing devices and provides information sheets on the latest products and applications.

REBAC members should watch for the April issue of Today’s Buyer’s Rep, which includes many more tips on helping buyers evaluate smart-home devices and other aspects of renovating homes for greater resource-efficiency.

Marc Gould is vice president, Business Specialties, for NAR and executive director of REBAC.

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