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April 05, 2014 | Courtney Rogers | Comments 0

Smart Home Features Gaining in Popularity among Builders and Buyers

smart home technologyTechnology has changed literally every aspect of our lives in the past decade, and it will continue to do so, particularly in the place we call home. Smart homes are becoming the norm for some of America’s largest residential builders, and as the cost of building smart homes decreases, most industry professionals expect them to become even more common.

As seen in the recent CNBC article, “Houses are About to Get Really, Really Smart,” smart technology already allows homeowners to control many of their utilities, temperature and even security from a handheld device or computer. There are also many companies, such as AT&T, Comcast and Microsoft, providing devices that allow you to control all of these things from one single platform.

One of the more popular items that can be found in homes and businesses already is the smart thermostat from Nest, which was recently acquired by Google for $3.2 billion. This technology learns the habits of homeowners, making it a breeze to control your home temperature while saving you money on your energy costs. The Google acquisition of Nest is a perfect example of how valuable home automation has become, not only to homeowners, but also to other businesses.

Becoming more energy efficient is a leading cause behind the drive towards automation, but security is another factor that is increasing in popularity.

“When you add an electronic door lock to your home, you have the power of encryption technology, so you can basically give a key to one person at a time and you define it for that person for a particular day,” said Jason Johnson, CEO of August, on CNBC’s Squawkbox.

The smartest technology is the kind that learns from the homeowner, such as the Nest thermostat, and that technology is still evolving. Today, buyers are still getting used to simpler applications that allow them to control things in their home remotely. While they’re not standard, many builders don’t believe that we’re far off from that being the case.

“I think we’re getting closer to it,” said John Jaffe, chief operating officer of Miami-based Lennar. “If you look at the car as a proxy. Years ago Bluetooth was a novelty, now every car comes with them. I would think we’re all there in five years.”

While these features are not standard in every new home, there are some national builders that have begun including it. New homes from Lennar come with automation as a standard feature with its Nexia Home Intelligence package, which allows the homeowner to control their home temperature, lighting and entry remotely through their computer, smartphone or iPad.

Smart features help to make life more efficient and more productive, as well as lower utility bills and overall energy costs.

“The cost of electric consumption, which is growing, will become more important to the consumer as it gets more expensive, and then it becomes more of a must-have,” added Jaffe.

As an added bonus, new materials and shrinking labor are making new home technology cheaper than ever before. KB Home, a national builder, built its first net-zero home four years ago at an additional cost of $88,000 to the consumer. Now, KB Home builds net-zero homes for only an additional $44,000, meaning the cost of production for these homes has decreased by half in just four short years.

As we reach a new frontier in housing, homes are becoming smarter and more sustainable than they were just a decade ago. Technology is evolving, costs are decreasing and many of the nation’s largest builders are incorporating smart technology into their new homes, making such things as a home intelligence package a standard feature.

While some technology, such as that which could control solar panels or sprinklers based on the weather, is still a ways off, vast strides have been made in making homes smarter over the past decade. What smart features do you think homes will have, or should they have, in the next five years? Let us know in the comments below!

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