Smart Homes Enter Mainstream Market

Tech

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY JAN 18, 2016

Once considered the domicile of only the tech-obsessed, the world of smart home technology today finds itself welcoming a mainstream set of customers. A new survey conducted by Coldwell Banker Real Estate shows the broader public embracing such technology years before most experts expected.

The Coldwell Banker Smart Home Marketplace Survey, released last week at the Consumer Electronic Show, polled more than 4,000 Americans and found 45 percent already own smart home technology or plan to invest in it in 2016. Perhaps more startling, 36 percent of the respondents who answered that way don’t consider themselves early adopters of new technology. But Roger Pettingell, a Coldwell Banker broker in the Sarasota market, says the results don’t surprise him, and that buyers increasingly expect automated components to be in place when they shop for homes today.

While he says the label ‘mainstream’ might be a little far, “I definitely see it at the upper end.” “If you look the the trends in our area, people are looking for contemporary architecture," Pettingell said, "and that goes hand in hand with people drawn to gadgets.” Whether it’s wireless audio systems or automated lighting controls that can be adjusted using a smartphone, interest in integrated home amenities has become the norm in the luxury market. It’s reached the point where if a seller still has an old-fashioned entertainment console and an older television, Pettingell will often ask an owner to replace those with flatscreen and integrated systems before the property gets listed.

And other businesses in the smart home space also see a change. Mark Vandenbroek, owner of SmartHouse Integration in Sarasota, has been in business 18 years, and over the last five years has seen attitudes shift significantly. “We are busier than we have ever been,” he said. The greatest interest has been in integrated lighting and security systems, but homeowners are taking advantage of increasing opportunity to have a single platform handle everything from sound systems to pool heaters and irrigation setups.

Changes in the industry also benefit the consumer moe than ever before, Vandenbroek said. “There are more new companies and more collaboration between companies,” he said. “We used to have to find ways to make things work together. Now large manufacturers are sharing code with one another so the integration is simpler and more reliable.”

Photo courtesy SmartHouse Integration: Outdoor Oasis home.

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