Market a Smart
Don’t focus on all the bells
and whistles. Market the features
of a smart home that appeal
to a wide audience.
Soon it will be possible to send a text to your refrigerator asking if you’re running low on milk. The fridge will text you back
based on what the appliance’s built-in camera reveals. Already,
you can pull up the weather forecast on your stovetop and light
your fireplace with a simple voice command.
These are just a few of the technological advances that can
be found now (or likely will soon show up) in smart homes,
which enable Internet-connected home appliances and systems to be more complementary with 21st-century lifestyles.
But here’s the challenge for real estate pros: How do you know
which of this gadgetry is most appealing to buyers? Do you
highlight the texting refrigerator over the tweeting washing
machine (which lets you know when a load is done)? Does the
stovetop-turned-meteorologist offer a strong marketing hook
or seem too gimmicky?
You just can’t know which smart-home features will entice
a buyer most. “It’s a personal choice for what you need it to do
and what you’re willing to spend,” says Mike Prince, an agent
with Equity Results Real Estate in American Fork, Utah.
That’s why, some real estate pros say, it’s best to strip your
marketing down to the basics of what a smart home has to
offer. Don’t try to talk up all of its features, but rather zero in
on the functions that are most likely to appeal to the widest
The most popular advancements aren’t even the newest
inventions. They involve security, heating and cooling, and
lighting—areas that virtually all buyers will pay attention to.
Remote Access to Security Cameras
Tanya Starcevich, an agent with Keller Williams in Los Angeles, has many clients who travel a lot. For that reason, she
says, they want to be able to monitor their homes from long
Starcevich sold a $3 million home in Malibu, Calif., with a
number of smart features. Owners would be able to search the
Internet on big-screen TVs as well as close and lock doors with
the touch of a button. “But the biggest point that I stressed was
the controlled security access from anywhere in the world,”
she says. The home’s security cameras could be viewed via a
mobile device. “The house was essentially accessible any day,
any time. It’s a huge selling point.”
Smart Temperature Control
Smart green features are in high in demand. Matt Walker, an
agent with Haring Realty in Mansfield, Ohio, says what’s always at the top of his smart-home buyers’ lists is a smart thermostat. He’s found the most popular to be the Nest Thermostat, which programs itself based on the user’s temperature
preferences, adjusting itself once a home owner has left to
avoid unnecessary heating or cooling of an empty house. The
Nest can also be controlled from a smartphone and shows your
home’s energy usage through the app or website.
Mike Karras, senior sales associate at William Raveis Real
Estate in Yarmouth Port, Mass., sold a smart home to a family
who spent a lot of time on their houseboat. “They loved the
remote access to their home from their boat if they wanted to
turn the fireplace on or turn the heat up—or turn it off if they
decided to stay on the boat that night.”
Lights On, Lights Off
Most practitioners say automated lighting is a major selling
point for smart-home buyers. Being able to turn lights on and
off from a smartphone is a particular draw for clients who
travel away from home for long periods. For example, Starcevich’s clients, who travel internationally, can turn their
lights on from anywhere in the world to make the home appear
occupied while they are gone.
—By Graham Wood
REALTORMAG. REALTOR.ORG REALTOR® JULY/AUGUST 2014 33