Why Realtors Want to Sell You a Smart Home

November 13, 2015, 5:24 PM UTC
For sale sign in yard of house
Photograph by Martin Barraud — Getty Images/OJO Images RF

The National Association of Realtors is eyeing the smart home.

Technologists inside the Chicago-based trade organization are establishing a lab to test out gear to help homeowners make the quality of their living environments healthier and more energy efficient. Chad Curry, managing director at the Center for Realtor Technology, explained that the organization is concerned with the quality of housing stock on the market and is considering how to help improve and modernize existing homes.

One way might be to offer sensors and home automation hubs to home buyers at closing that would help buyers understand how their homes function. For example, the sensors might measure air quality, humidity, and temperature against the local and national averages and thus prompt homeowners to upgrade aspects of their homes to reduce drafts, poor ventilation or other elements.

This is a somewhat far-fetched idea in part because the NAR isn’t an organization that can mandate its members do any of these things. But it does have more than 1 million members, and Curry is working with larger residential brokers and listing sites to try to establish some kind of minimum reporting on certain air quality measurements and other elements of the home’s environmental quality that might appear as part of a listing.

Some of the sensor data that Curry imagines might be part of a listing one day.Chad Curry at the NAR.
Chad Curry at the NAR.

The idea is to get homeowners to use smart home technology to improve the overall environment, but it could also be a gateway to add home automation and other upgrades. From that perspective the NAR effort should excite members of the business communityif only as a chance to market to millions of homeowners.

MORE: Here’s How Procter & Gamble Is Thinking About the Smart Home

Curry says he and his lab are evaluating hubs at the moment, and trying to test technology that is simple to use, because the Realtor would likely have to help the consumer monitor their home. But the technology also needs to be robust enough to provide a variety of data points and last over a long enough period of time that a person stays in their home. Current equipment the lab is testing includes the Netatmo weather station, the Neurio electricity consumption monitor, and the Rainforest Automation Eagle home hub.

It may be a long while before your Realtor hands you a hub at closing, but in the meantime, Curry has worked with the Online Trust Alliance to establish a few other tech forward guidelines for the smart home. For example, the organizations have put together a checklist for people who have purchased connected products to think about when they move. While a homeowner may not consider their Nest thermostat or connected lightbulbs when they move out, there are steps they need to take to ensure that their connected devices are decommissioned and unable to share old data with the new homeowner.

Making sure both the homeowners and the Realtors are aware of the level of complexity that technology brings into our lives is the goal of the NAR tech effort, and Curry is focused on shining a light on that for as many people across the organization as possible. With more connected gadgets in people’s lives and the possibility for those gadgets to bring both improvements and harm, it’s nice to know that someone is thinking about this at the NAR.

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