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How your smart-home system could make your home unsellable

The competitiveness across housing markets has resulted in the creation of outrageous amenities, like rooftop gyms and dog spas. But instead of making houses easier to sell, some amenities have the opposite effect.

Buyers are afraid of complicated home systems

One amenity, in particular, tends to push buyers away: overly sophisticated smart-home systems. While people want a smart system (and we’ll discuss in a later article which ones are looked for), most people don’t want something that’s too difficult to operate. Even younger buyers don’t want a system that requires a lot of time learning how to use.

Just consider the unprecedented success of Apple products. In recent years, many people have switched to MacBooks after years of using a PC because the interface is intuitive.

Other buyers are concerned about the invasiveness of smart homes

Another issue for smart home products is the unintended consequence when consumers see the hard data on how exactly they use their home. According to a recent IPSOS survey, 67% of people agreed that “connected devices are creepy in the way they collect data about people and their behaviours”, and 88% said the governments should be ensuring your data isn’t misused once it’s collected.

While some consumers worry about hackers stealing data generated by smart home devices, most of them express concerns about how smart devices might openly share their home-related information. 

“Consumers started to use this really interesting language where they said to the researchers, ‘Is my home going to gossip about me?,'”, said Genevieve Bell, director of corporate sensing and insights at Intel’s corporate strategy group. Other concerns focused on what assessments might be made by companies on the basis of the information, and the consequences of having devices that know when you’re home and when you’re not. “What’s the difference between a smart home and a stalking home?” Bell said.

Many buyers don’t see the point of connectivity

Smart systems are generally appealing: The idea of being able to hit a button to control things like lights and temperature is attractive to buyers. But optimizing climate control or energy usage with a smart thermostat is far more useful than many features offered by other devices. 

Brian Markwalter, senior vice president of research and standards at the Consumer Technology Association, says: “For instance, Nest achieved pretty good penetration for something that most people didn’t mess with for many years, but I think the idea of a handful of gadgets that do some things that people aren’t sure they really need–that’s a hard sell”.

Even if buyers are tech-savvy, other issues may arise

Other problems could occur if the future owner already plans on moving with their own smart home devices. If their devices are of a higher quality than yours, seeing cheap or outdated gadgets while visiting your house might also be a turn-off.

Finally, the new owner might have some compatibility issues while trying to use your gadgets. For example, if you’ve installed hardware that can only be accessed through an iOS (Apple) app, but the new person uses Android, there will be difficulties.

While a complicated, outdated or invasive smart-home system can push buyers away, some smart devices can be a good investment, especially when you’re trying to sell your house. We’ll see in a later article how to transition your smart house and turn it over to a new owner in a successful way.

Anne-Marie Grantham

Anne-Marie Grantham

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