Realtor Luke Thompson was looking for a way to create a buzz to draw potential buyers to a home he was helping sell for a client.
Thompson, who works at Coldwell Banker Griffith & Blair American Home, 2222 S.W. 29th St., suggested converting the client’s property into a smart home. Presentations at a Coldwell Banker convention in fall 2016 had focused on the new housing trend and his colleague, Amanda Lewis, was satisfied with smart technology — mostly voice-activation devices — recently installed in her home.
“I told him about updating to a smart home. We looked at the price and incorporated it into his home,” Thompson said.
To be considered a “smart home” by CNET, which reviews new technology products, a home must be equipped with interactive technologies in three of the following areas: lighting, safety, entertainment, appliances, heating/cooling, outdoors, security or temperature. One of the areas must be security or temperature.
Thompson said his client chose security, temperature and lighting, and installed an Echo Dot, a hands-free, voice-controlled device; LED light bulbs; a smart lock controlled by phone; a video doorbell; and phone-activated garage door control.
To upgrade to a smart home cost the seller about $1,300, which included materials, but not installation. In the past few years, the seller also replaced the roof, updated windows and added stone veneer siding, new carpet in the living room, and ceramic tiles in the kitchen, bathroom and dining room.
“We sold the house he had in seven days and it sold for a lot more than it was appraised,” Thompson said.
The seller’s home was appraised at $98,000. After installing the smart technology and making other improvements, the property sold for more than $130,000. The house was appraised at $82,000 when the seller purchased it in 2006.
Lewis isn’t the only Topeka Realtor who has transformed their dwelling into a smart home. John Ringgold, a self-proclaimed “tech geek” and a Realtor at Keller Williams Realty, 2641 S.W. Wanamaker Road, said he likes to be able to “control things from my phone remotely.”
Ringgold has installed voice- and phone-activated lights; smart switches and outlets; Wi-Fi light bulbs; a programmable Nest thermostat to remotely control the temperature of his home; and Amazon Echo voice technology.
“Anything electric you can control with technology,” he said. “It does cost a little bit to get into it.”
Ringgold said he likes the convenience of smart technology, but added he also enjoys “setting it up and seeing what you can make it do.”
He’s not alone. According to information compiled by Coldwell Banker, 33 percent of its surveyed agents said homes with smart home technology sell faster than homes without such devices. In addition, about half of millennials and 42 percent of broadband households surveyed would “smart stage” their homes to attract buyers.
Consequently, Realtors need to be up to speed on the latest smart-home technologies.
“Buyers love smart thermostats and Alexa turning on the living room lights,” Lewis said, adding she often works with millennial homebuyers who are “curious” about the latest technology. “Voice activation is important for the future.”
Is there a downside?
“When Wi-Fi isn’t working, nothing works in the house, so you have to do things manually again,” Ringgold noted.
Thompson and Ringgold also said Realtors need to make sure a home’s technology and equipment transfer from the seller to the buyer, and passwords are reset once a contract is signed.
Contact niche editor Jan Biles at (785) 295-1292.