REALTORMAG. REALTOR.ORG REALTOR® JULY/AUGUST 2016 19
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Center for REALTOR® Technology, says it’s just a matter of time.
The Center recently established CRT Labs to help REALTORS®
understand and have a voice in the development of smart-home
Organized real estate’s role isn’t yet certain. But CR T’s
participation in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Energy
Information Exchange Accelerator is one cause for optimism.
The accelerator is a three-year collaboration between the public
and private sectors, with the goal of making home energy information more accessible. “With what we’re doing and the way
we’re seeing MLSs respond, I think we’ll have this in two to three
years,” Curry says. “Our vision is that none of this stu; would
be entered by the real estate professional. It would be automatically updated by the house, and we think that’s possible.”
Will all this new data open up a host of new disclosure concerns?
Yes and no. Say sellers have a moisture-sensitive smart device
on their basement floor to measure water levels. It could give
them hard data about the precise amounts of dampness and
flooding that might have happened over the course of their
ownership. But NAR Associate General Counsel Ralph Holmen
points out that the greater availability of data won’t alter the
basic calculation about disclosures. “These devices don’t really
change the approach,” he says. The responsibility of the listing
agent is the same; if you know it, disclose it.
But Holmen notes that brokers and agents must understand
the data being collected. “The broker has an obligation to find
out more about what the data shows and what that means for
buyers,” he says. “He can’t turn a blind eye to things that might be
a problem, even if the owner doesn’t say there’s been flooding.”
Privacy is another major concern. There have already been
headlines about smart-home devices exposing private informa-
tion about unwitting home owners. Some may worry that simple
data, such as when electricity is being used, could help thieves
determine when a home might be empty and vulnerable. Curry
acknowledges these issues and notes that NAR is working with
Underwriters Laboratories’ Cyber Security Assurance Program
to address software weaknesses and review security controls.
Home owners who are reluctant to share energy and environ-
mental data and other information about their home may soften
over time as they see the convenience provided by these devices.
“Rather than thinking of it as something you’ll have to disclose,”
Curry says, “think of it as a way to improve owners’ quality of life.”