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  • Writer's pictureSpotlight Real Estate Group

Smart Homes: Secure Living or Security Risk?

Remember when self-cleaning ovens and cordless telephones were considered high tech? That was a lifetime ago, and now here we are in a tech boom where everything is digitized, wireless and automated. Smart homes with automation improvements not only make life easier for you to live in, but they can also potentially influence the home-selling or buying process. Use this advice from Spotlight Real Estate to make wise smart home choices.

What is a Smart Home?

According to ProSite Systems, “‘Smart home’ is the term commonly used to define a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio and video systems, security and camera systems that are capable of communicating with one another and can be controlled remotely by a time schedule from any room in the home, as well as remotely from any location in the world by phone or internet.”

Automated homes no longer require manual switches. They operate with a press of a button on the keypad itself or through a remote control on a phone app. They can also operate on a schedule, without being touched. Smart homes make life more convenient, secure and energy efficient.

Name the Players

A smart home can be as simple as an Echo for creating shopping lists or for listening to music and news briefs. It could be your security alarm and camera, audiovisual system, lighting, keypad lock, digital thermostat, robotic vacuum cleaner, appliances that can be controlled remotely, or a Nest that runs your entire home.

Ever since Siri became a widespread companion inside handheld Apple devices, the market has exploded with home voice assistants and smart home platforms. Nest is one of the most popular automated security systems on the market today, with the capability of controlling your doorbell, door locks, alarm, security cameras, thermostat, and smoke alarm. The entire home is connected through Nest, and the system is operable through your smartphone.

Insteon, Amazon and Google are also power players in the smart home industry, and have similar remote capabilities. Amazon’s Alexa is not just a voice assistant. She can also sync up with other remote devices in the home, such as electrical outlets, locks, and televisions. Google created Google Home as a competitor to Amazon’s Alexa.

Does the Installation Pay Off?

Will you see big ROI from your smart home additions? That depends. As Chris Black of Spotlight Real Estate Group says, “I have not seen clients increasing their offer price based on smart technology.” He goes on to explain that smart home tech, especially the Nest thermostat and wireless home security, typically gets a positive reaction from the buyer and gives them the sense that the current owner upgraded the house.

The majority of buyers are not tech-focused. They are often glad the technology is there, but since that isn’t a driving force for them, they often aren’t sure if they will use it — hence it doesn't add value to them. There is a minority of buyers — those who are extremely tech-focused — who usually want to add specific brands of tech, so having it installed isn't especially appealing.

The impact on price isn't tangible, like a finished basement or extra full bathroom, but it can add to the home's overall appeal. Homes in New Castle County sold for an average of $279.5K in the last month, and the more appealing a home is to the general consumer, the more showings, more offers, and typically a higher price. But, don’t add smart tech for the purpose of selling your home, as the ROI isn't there.

What are the risks?

As wonderful as smart, automated homes sound, some homeowners have concerns about making their property tech-reliant or “plugged in.” A smart home is virtually “online,” which means it’s susceptible to hackers. With the fear of baby monitors being tapped, microphones being turned on, and privacy invasion through hacked security cameras, going offline seems like a more viable option to some. There’s also the concern that power outages will knock your devices off WiFi, rendering some of their functions useless, but fear not. You won’t be living in the caveman era if your smart home becomes a little less smart for a while.

Ready to join the future and automate your home? You can install some home automation systems yourself, but more complicated installations require a professional. When hiring an electrician in your area to help with upgrades, research smart home installation or home automation installation services. Expect to pay a few hundred dollars for this service.

A smart home can be beneficial for comfort, convenience and security. Like all technological advances, home automation is designed to make life simpler, as if you have a virtual assistant living in your home. As a cherry on top, making your home smarter might mean making it more valuable in that it gives house hunters a sense that the property is well-cared-for.

For all of your home buying and selling needs, contact the pros at Spotlight Real Estate!

Guest Blogger: Tina Martin at

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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