“Smart homes” – homes with advanced (usually Internet-connected) appliances and systems that can be controlled automatically or remotely – are the hottest thing in high-end neighborhoods. If you are a real estate investor in a lucrative, luxury market like Southern or Northern California or Miami, you may wonder how much you should invest in such technology when you rehab a fix-and-flip or rental property.
“The right technology can improve the perceived – and real – value of a home,” says Todd Anthony Puma, owner of The Source Home Theater, a New York City-based custom integration firm. “In some places, technology is becoming a cost of entry in higher-end homes.”
But it’s easy to overdo it in the face of “cool” technology, with such enhancements as adjustable lights, music, and shades controlled by simple smartphone commands. “It’s important not to get caught up in the smart home craze and install technology that is highly personal in taste,” says Joey Kolchinsky, founder of Boston-based technology design consulting firm OneVision Resources.
Just as home décor choices in a fix and flip or rental property should be classic and neutral, the technology should have similar widespread appeal. “If the products are eclectic or obscure, or worse – expensive to maintain – the buyer won’t see the value,” he says.
Kolchinsky urges real estate investors to seek professional guidance before tackling major upgrades or additions, including infrastructure or control systems. “In the face of ever-changing technology and personal preferences, making this investment as a real estate developer can be a tough decision,” he says.
However, there are a few can’t-miss solutions that will appeal to most home buyers or make life easier and more secure for you, the landlord, when you rent the home.
Enhance Security and Stage a Home with Smart Lighting Solutions
Whether you’re fixing a home for a quick sale or plan to rent, automated lighting offers that “Wow” factor that is a home-staging dream. Lights can turn on automatically when you enter the house with a prospective buyer, creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
Bluetooth-compatible BeON bulbs screw in like regular light bulbs, and can be programmed through an app to turn on when the doorbell rings or a smoke alarm goes off.
Automated bulbs also provide a level of security for fix-and-flip properties or rentals while they’re on the market, awaiting residents. “Automated lighting can make the home appear lived-in even when unoccupied,” says Puma.
Nearly as easy to install as a regular thermostat, Nest thermostats are “almost universally loved,” says Kolchinsky. Whether you’re a landlord who wants to keep heating and cooling costs down while making sure your tenants are comfortable, or want to add another high-tech selling point to a fix-and-flip property, this smart thermostat is well worth the few hundred dollars it costs.
Bluetooth-compatible electronic door locks like those from August are convenient when you or real estate agents are showing a home because you can provide a one-time code for each agent, and even receive notifications on your smartphone when that code is used. If you’re renting the home, you won’t need to change the locks every time you get a new tenant – just re-program the code.
Infrastructure for Future Technology
If you really want to go the extra mile in creating a smart home for sale, “invest in infrastructure – the wiring behind the walls,” says Kolchinsky. Keep in mind, with the many varieties of cabling, this is a job for a professional — not just to connect the right wires to the right locations, but to also ensure they are terminated properly to make technology installation easy for future homeowners.
Keep It Simple
Whatever technology you include should give prospective buyers greater peace of mind, not leave them with questions about how it will work or who they should call if it breaks. “Consumers are looking for confidence that the investment they are making is a solid one,” says Kolchinsky. “The technology components should be transferable, secure, and easily implemented by the new buyer. The house that offers the total package plus something unique, something differentiated, and makes the buyer feel good about the purchase will usually win.”
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