My parents sold their home a few weeks ago. It sold for more than our realtor expected and a lot faster than she thought it would. My parents and I weren’t surprised. Our theory was, it would sell fast because it’s a Smart Home, I think our theory was correct. In their home, they have a Savant control system, whole house audio, automated shades, a smart lighting system and a theater in the basement. The house isn’t new, we lived in it for 20+ years but smart home upgrades are said to make homes more move in ready which helps them sell faster and for more money.
Last week, I went to a marketing conference and my friend Mark said to me “flippers are probably great people for you to work with”. I never thought of that. I always thought our best client were one of the five people/situations I mentioned in our old blog post. I think Mark is right, people who buy, remodel and sell homes are great people to speak with as well. I went to BiggerPockets.com to see more about how house flippers are thinking about Smart Home Automation. When I saw the post “The Smart Home – R We Really That Outdated?” I realized Mark was onto something, we can help house flippers future proof their renovations which will help them sell faster and make more money.
Imagine for a second, you are in the market for a home. You want a home that is in the neighborhood you want and looks the way you want but after that, long-term finances come into play. If you buy a prebuilt home how much will you need to invest to personalize it? How much will it cost in terms of upkeep? How will it hold heat during the winter? There are tons of questions to think about when buying a home and in many cases lead people to question their move-in readiness. Building a new home or gutting and remodeling an old home allows you to avoid some of the questions of moving into an old home but there are still questions to ask, mainly, am I properly future proofing the house.
Builders build homes. We all hire a reputable builder, however, they don’t always properly future-proof their homes because it’s not easy. Many builders simply are not aware of what it takes to future-proof their homes. Let’s face it, technology is evolving fast! Think about it, blackouts use to suck because you couldn’t turn on your TV, now they suck because you can’t use WiFi or charge your cell phone. This is the beginning of an era where your house can have problems that have nothing to do with the structure and everything to with the technology within it.
Building with the future in mind is what separates builders from their competition. Think about it, years ago it didn’t matter if a house had a dishwasher but if you went to a home today that didn’t have one you would question living there. Today there are other factors that matter as well and many of them are not obvious when building a new home. Below are four areas I would focus on when building a new home to ensure it is ready for the future:
Historically installing Coax cables or CAT5/6 has been the best way to wire a new home for all of its internet or cable needs but the world is changing. As the world continues to move forward with our reliance on data, the speed of our wires needs to get greater and greater. In the mid 90’s when AOL first began, 56 Kbps internet speed was acceptable, people were happy to simply be on the worldwide web. If you force someone to use dial-up Internet today they may strangle you. The same will be said for using CAT5/6 in the future. The internet is getting faster, my home has 150 Mbps internet speed but companies like Google are now offering internet speeds as fast at 1 Gbps. Soon that will be the expected.
TV’s are also beginning to require more speed than CAT5/6 cables are capable of enabling. When TV first began, they were black and white then standard definition (SD), now most people won’t even watch it if it’s not high definition (HD) and 4K televisions are next in line. 4K TV’s have four times more pixels than a HD TV which means TV’s are going to look even better. This also means that as 4K or even 8K comes Cat5/Cat6 will not be the correct wires for your home and without fiber optics true 4K content can’t be delivered.
To make a long story short, be ready for what is coming. If you’re not running fiber throughout your home for video and internet you will have to upgrade soon so if you want to be able to use the technology of the future its best to do it while the house is being built.
I wrote a bit about this in last week’s blog post but it’s worth reiterating, Smart Thermostats are a good investment. According to Nest, the smart thermostat acquired by Google in 2014, customers have an “estimated average savings of $131 to $145 a year, which means the Nest Thermostat will pay for itself in under two years” so year three to 30 (length for a typical mortgage) your thermostat is saving you money. This use case has been so compelling that some states are making smart thermostats mandatory for all new homes.
Another feature I mentioned in last week’s post but I believe needs to be stated again. LED lights should be in all new homes! These lights last about 40 times longer than normal incandescent lights and use as much as 6 times less energy over that time. That’s huge. Lighting use about 30% of the energy in the average home so over time this change can make a significant impact on your energy bill. Combining this with a lighting control system like Vantage, Lutron or Savant is also great because it gives you the ability to set scenes within your home to make events like movie night and going to bed easier (one button to turn everything off) but also makes going away safer (smart lighting to make it look like you’re home).
This feature depends on who you are as a person but for me is super important. Installing in-wall or in-ceiling speakers are best if done during the building of your new home. If done then, it’s easier because the walls are open which also makes it less expensive to run the wires. If you like to entertain or listen to music at all, pre-wire during construction is the best time to do it. We do a lot of work where we have to cut people’s walls open to install speakers because their builder didn’t ask this question. It’s possible, anything is possible, but before the walls are put up, is the best time to install the wiring for speakers or any devices. There’s an asterisk by this question because I wouldn’t consider this a new feature but with the advent of systems like Sonos and other music servers, the ability to play all of your music, Spotify, and other music sources through these speakers has increased demand significantly. In fact, the CEO of Sonos recently wrote an email regarding attaching Sonos to true Whole House Music System.
What’s happening right now with technology is very important for how you build your new home because it is going to have a huge impact on how you live going forward. This will affect how you live now, but equally as important how the next buyer of your new/old home will live in the future. Nobody wants to go to their friend’s house that doesn’t have WiFI and nobody want’s to party at the person’s home without music. It’s not just about the people you have over, how do you live? Would you want to live in a house with dial up internet speed? If so, none of this or anything else we do will apply to you. However, if you care about keeping up with modern technology and modern lifestyle, these are all questions worth evaluating as you build your new home.