Upgrading an Investment Property to a Smart Home
Technology affects almost every part of daily life, changing the face of communication, entertainment, media, and job functions rapidly and unabashedly. Books are now on a screen, television streams in the palm of our hand, computers automate tasks that used to take hours to accomplish, and even a catch-up phone call has transitioned to text messages and emojis.
Technology has also made its way into real estate properties. Over the last decade, innovations in functional home upgrades have skyrocketed, creating a new and exciting frontier of opportunity. The potential in smart home technology isn’t restricted to homeowners, either. As an investor, there are plenty of options to consider, providing a way to enhance the value of your property, both for rental purposes and other property investments. With smart home technology, renters will be more motivated to select those properties, and purchasers will have more of a reason to spend, increasing the return – and the transaction speed! – on your property sales.
However, not all smart home products are made equal. These potential investments offer measurable benefits to your properties in a cost-effective way, providing advantages renters and buyers alike will love.
Imagine a world where the temperature could adjust based on both indoor and outdoor readings to reduce energy use and optimize comfort levels. With smart thermostats, it’s now possible.
An evolution of the traditional manual thermostat, smart alternatives like Nest and Ecobee improve the way you heat and cool your home. With automated controls and savvy smartphone apps for adjustments away from the house, it’s possible to guarantee complete control over indoor temperature. Many smart thermostats also have the ability to learn resident habits, patterns, and preferred temperatures, providing a fully optimized and customized approach to heating and cooling.
In research studies, Nest saved 10% to 12% on heating and 15% on cooling costs, providing an enticing savings opportunity for thrifty renters or buyers. According to the company, the cost of Nest can be recouped in a year or less with the savings available, making an investment in a smart thermostat an attractive option for landlords who can potentially attract more renters and rent their properties more quickly. Smart thermostats are also eco-friendly, offering an added bonus for tenants who favor green living. Landlords can also look at local rebates for further savings.
Smart Door Locks
Door locks are an important part of protecting property, but smart door locks go a step further, making it much easier to control comings and goings in your home in a completely customized way. Operating through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, smart lock options like August Schlage Sense and Friday Lock provide the ultimate in flexibility and convenience.
To open a traditional lock, someone within the home must be present, or the visitor must have a key. While simple and easy, this system can provide logistical challenges that technology can bypass. With smart door locks, you can control entrances to your home remotely, locking and unlocking as necessary with a few taps on a phone or clicks on a computer.
Smart door locks increase both security and peace of mind and enhance ease of use. They eliminate the fear of leaving a door unlocked, since smart door locks can be set to auto-lock shortly after the door is closed. The app allows for remote confirmation that the door has locked and can send notifications when the door has been opened. In addition, the use of a smart door lock can eliminate the need for traditional keys – for example, a school age child can get into the house using their smart phone rather than risking taking a key to school and losing it. Or if a friend stops by to drop off a borrowed item, you can easily let her in and lock the door remotely behind her when she leaves (rather than leaving the door unlocked all day for her or leaving the borrowed items in front of the door and leaving them vulnerable to theft).
As a landlord, smart locks can improve your abilities as a property manager as well; accessing a unit doesn’t require a key or breaking down a door when an app can allow immediate entrance in an emergency.
Smart Garage Doors
You wouldn’t leave your front door open all day, inviting thieves or curious passersby into your home on a whim, but this is essentially what leaving your garage door open means. Most homes with garages have a door into the house, which may or may not be locked or secure, leaving your home in a vulnerable state.
Extra protection for the garage can add an additional layer of security for cars, trucks, tools, lawn equipment, or anything else stored there. Even in safe neighborhoods, this kind of measure can be highly desired, providing another opportunity to control who can access your home and when. For tenants and buyers invested in security and safety, little touches like secure smart doors can make any property more appealing.
Smart garage doors come in numerous forms, like MyQ from LiftMaster, to enhance the abilities of your garage. Similar to a smart door lock, they can be controlled from your phone so that you can rest easy knowing your garage door is always in the proper position. In many ways, a smart garage door takes some of the worry out of property protection. Instead of hoping you closed the garage door, a smart door can eliminate that concern. Options are available on a timer to ensure your door is always closed by a certain time each day, and most mainstream products offer mobile app opening, closing, and monitoring. Smart garage doors can also close open garage doors after a set amount of time. MyQ even offers activity alerts so that residents can instantly handle property disruption.
Smart Wireless Security Cameras
Ever wanted to know who is around your property when you’re not there? Worried about suspicious activity in your neighborhood? Suspected someone is casing your property while you’re not around? With a smart security camera, you don’t have to wonder; all of the proof you need can be right there in the palm of your hand.
Smart security cameras, including Arlo or doorbell cameras like Ring, can offer protection and peace of mind, immediately alerting you to a visitor on your property, whether invited or not. Most cameras are either motion or doorbell-activated, turning on when someone enters the camera’s range or rings the doorbell to your home. When this occurs, you’ll receive an alert on your phone letting you know there’s a change on your property. Via your security app, this footage can then be followed in real time, ensuring residents never miss a beat, even away from home. Most services offer stored footage for seven days or more, making it easy to review footage anywhere, at any time.
Wireless security cameras add protection for a modest investment, increasing safety and security for both property owners and tenants. For those who are uncomfortable with the neighborhood or have had previous experiences with crime in the community, this simple service could be enough to push the scales in your favor.
Smart Security Systems
Security systems can be an asset for all homeowners, providing an extra layer of security with which to protect property, family members and possessions. Smart security systems offer the protection of alarms and door and window sensors. However, the installation and expense are usually something renters forego, leading to potential risks in rental properties.
Due to the easy installation and largely wireless nature of smart security systems, it’s possible to alleviate concerns for both renters and home buyers alike. Modern smart systems can be set up in a matter of minutes, offering extra security with a relatively minimal commitment. Some options, such as SimpliSafe, are available without long-term contracts, making it far simpler for renters and other short-term residents to purchase service as needed.
Unlike traditional security systems, a smart security system is always accessible, easy to enable and disable, and can provide alerts, warnings, and potential problems in real time. Through an app on your phone, it’s possible to maintain an eye on all entrances, exits, and surrounding areas at all times and know when someone may have entered through a door or window.
Smart Light Fixtures
There’s no way around it: electricity is expensive. Many homeowners spend several thousand dollars a year powering their homes, with functions like lighting, heating and cooling, appliance use, and electronics use all adding up significantly over time. As such, eco-friendly residents are often searching for ways to bring down bills.
For those who want to ensure all lights are off when they exit a room or leave the home, smart light fixtures can manage electricity usage while adding an extra level of security to any property. Unlike light fixtures that need to be manually turned on and off with a switch, smart lights can be controlled by your phone using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology. This allows you to manage lights away from home to ensure a minimal amount of electricity usage, especially if you plan to be gone for days or even weeks. An additional benefit is the ability to create a Scene. For example, when it’s 7pm, you can turn on your Dinner scene and light the dining room and kitchen and turn off the lights in the living room.
Smart lights can also aid in home protection. Instead of leaving inside or outside lights off while you are out of town or away for an extended period of time, smart light fixtures can be programmed to come on and off at natural times or can be controlled remotely to create the illusion that someone is home.
Improve ROI with Smart Home Technology
With so many smart home options out there, narrowing your options as an investor can feel overwhelming, especially for those without significant experience in home-related technology. However, the right choices come with plenty of potential, providing a way to boost property values and increase appeal to tenants and buyers without significantly affecting ROI. From doorbell security cameras to home thermostats, there are plenty of ways to make an investment property more appealing, no matter your overarching plans.
Scott Clift is a licensed real estate broker with Westpark Loans. He has been in the real estate industry since 1994. His team of seasoned professionals specialize in providing real estate loans for investors and other self-employed individuals. When you are ready to invest in real estate, call Westpark Loans to secure your financing at (844) 574 LOAN or by visiting westparkloans.com.