When we add technological bells and whistles to a residence, these additions and upgrades are typically aimed at ourselves and our own day-to-day comfort and ease of living. The question is whether some of these upgrades translate to a higher contract price when we sell.
High-end renovations today often go beyond a state-of-the-art kitchen and luxurious bathroom to include smart devices like a built-in sound system, electronic window treatments, central air climate control with multiple thermostats and remotely controlled lighting in every room. Demonstrated altogether for a potential buyer, home automation is inarguably impressive and downright cool.
But it remains to be seen not only if buyers would be willing to pay up for these bells and whistles, but also if tech-savvy buyers might feel that the years-old tech might not be current enough. Various examples of smart home devices have begun to appear more often in homes we see on the market, and there's no final answer whether these pricey gadgets and gizmos translate to fetching a higher sale price.
Renovating a home can be a daunting undertaking and is not for everyone. Fixer-uppers are expensive, time-consuming, and often require people to make expensive decisions that are very different from their usual routine – choosing tiles, lighting plans, cabinets and paint colors is a very different task from modeling spreadsheets or organizing employee schedules.
If the market is healthy, smart renovations will improve the value of the property – and of course make it more enjoyable for the owner to live in.
But what about tech? Do high-end home tech systems for climate, lighting, sound, or security improve a home’s value? Will a substantial investment in residential bells and whistles translate to a higher number on the contract of sale?
Here are some smart home upgrades that can attract buyers to your home:
- Automated blinds and curtains
- Smart lighting
- Climate control with smart thermostats
- Built-in speakers with app control
- Smart locks
- Smart garage door opener
- Smart appliances
- Smart home security system
Technology as Permanent Fixtures
A New York City condo recently on the market was fully decked out with motorized window treatments, built-in speakers everywhere, heated floors in the bathroom, Nest thermostats and customizable lighting. While buyers touring the space were impressed with the smart home technology, they didn't necessarily feel compelled to pay more for the home because of it. Instead, they focused on the home’s layout, light and age of the renovation. Not only was the hardwired tech not the main draw, but buyers saw it all as just a nice perk.
Technology That Leaves With the Seller
While some home technology is affixed to the home and is passed along to the new buyer, a lot of technology is more mobile and leaves with the seller. Portable cameras and speakers that are not hardwired into the walls are becoming more prevalent, less expensive, and more temporary. They can be easily upgraded, connected to voice assistants like Google Home and Amazon Echo and generally, don’t transfer with the sale of a home. Understandably, a nanny cam that sits on a table will not improve the value of a home.
Smart Tech Highlights Other Improvements
Smart home technology is supposed to make life easier, as customized settings learn our habits for predictive living – the garage door might open on its own as your car pulls up, the air conditioning can be switched on remotely 10 minutes before you come home and a video camera in the refrigerator can be accessed from your phone while you're at the grocery store so you buy what you need.
Improvements and advancements at home will suggest easier paths for tech to respond to how we enjoy our lives, rather than technology telling us how to live our lives, says Kurt Knutsson, a tech journalist best known as The CyberGuy, and chief tech contributor on Fox News and Fox Business networks.
Knutsson notes is that if a home has current, high-end technology, it signals something positive to potential buyers, as an “unspoken endorsement” that wiring is up-to-date and that the seller exhibited a certain pride of ownership, maintaining the home diligently. So even if there is not a direct correlation between a technological enhancement in a home and its contract price, these improvements will help to impress buyers overall at showings.
In the same vein, home staging and targeted decluttering convey clean, fresh and new, even if a home is none of these things. If buyers know how they feel about a property within the first few seconds of stepping inside, showcasing the futuristic technology is a smart selling tool.
The high-tech Manhattan condo sold to a tech entrepreneur, who recognized the substantial investment that had been made into smart home technology. The buyer also felt that some of it was now dated by his own standards, and during the negotiation flatly stated that he was not willing to pay up for something he’d have to overhaul anyway. Examples like this should lead homeowners to install technology for their own enjoyment, and not with the expectation that motorized window shades, Hue lightbulbs or the latest Sonos upgrade will increase the contract price on their real estate sale.
How to Sell Your Smart Home
In terms of hardware, more and more, it seems, home technology is integrated via a smartphone or through apps on a home tablet device, and not necessarily hardwired through the walls, but with movable sensors.
Thus, integrating home technology for the average layperson is less costly and easier to do than ever before, but also leaves with the seller and does not generally stay at the property with the new buyer.
Once a homeowner decides to undergo a renovation, one of the main questions is whether the renovation is more for the enjoyment of the homeowner, or if the renovation is aimed at attracting future buyers. If the homeowner is renovating for herself, she might be more likely to choose colors, materials and technological embellishments that she likes and will enjoy living with. But if she is renovating to sell, then she might be more disposed to choose less expensive options that give the home a neutral yet updated look and feel, ideally appealing to a wide audience of potential buyers.
With recent advancements, she could even overhaul the home technology more than once in the near future, as home tech becomes less expensive and easier to upgrade.
Ensure a quick sale.
Selling your home quickly not only allows you to move on with your life, it also means fewer days of keeping your home in pristine condition and leaving every time your agent brings prospective buyers for a tour. According to real estate information company Zillow, the best time to list a home for sale is on a Saturday between May 1 and 15; homes listed during those times sell six days faster and for 0.7% more than the average annual home price. But how fast your home actually sells, and at what price, depends on factors beyond timing. Here are 10 secrets to selling your home faster, no matter when you list it.
Updated on March 20, 2020: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.Pick a selling strategy.
Pick a selling strategy.
Before putting a for sale sign in your yard, it's important to pick the selling strategy that will work best for you. The for-sale-by-owner option may be best if you feel confident in your ability to market the home and negotiate. If your time is better spent on other details, a real estate agent could be best. If you need to sell the home quickly, you may want to inquire with an iBuyer, an entity that can make the deal close faster than the typical homebuyer. You should feel confident in the selling strategy you choose, and avoid switching from one to the other while your house is on the market. Buyers could be turned off by the constant changing of circumstances.Invest in a professional photographer.
Invest in a professional photographer.
According to NAR's 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 44% of recent buyers started their search online. Of those, 87% found photos very useful in their home search. If your listing photos don’t show off the features of your home, prospective buyers may reject it without even taking a tour or going to the open house. Hiring a professional photographer and posting at least 30 photos of your home, inside and out, is a good way to attract buyers. Photography is often free for home sellers, as shoots are often conducted at the expense of real estate brokers as part of marketing the property.Clean everything.
(People Images/ Getty Images)
Nothing turns off buyers like a dirty house. Hire a company to deep clean if you can’t do it yourself. “When the (home) is on the market, no matter what time of day or night, it should be clean and neat,” says Ellen Cohen, a licensed associate real estate broker with real estate brokerage Compass in New York City.
Key places to clean while your home is on the market include:
- Kitchen countertops.
- Inside cabinets and appliances.
- Floors and room corners where dust collects.
- Bathroom counters, toilets, tubs and showers.
- Inside closets.
- Windows, inside and out.
- Scuffed walls, baseboards and doors.
- Basement and garage.
Depersonalize the home.
Remove all your family photos and memorabilia. You want buyers to see the house as a home for their family, not yours. Remove political and religious items, your children’s artwork (and everything else) from the refrigerator and anything that marks the house as your territory rather than neutral territory. The same goes for any collections such as figurines, sports memorabilia or kids' toys that can make a buyer think less about the house and more about you. Family photos can be replaced by neutral art or removed entirely – just be sure to remove any nails and repair nail holes where any hanging photos used to be.Let the light in.
Let the light in.
People love light and bright, and the best way to show off your house is to let the sunshine in. Open all the curtains, blinds and shades, and turn lights on in any dark rooms. If the natural light situation is lacking in any room, strategically place lamps or light sources throughout to set the mood. And while your house is on the market, open all curtains and turn on lights every time you leave your house for work or errands in case you get word that a buyer would like to tour the space before you get home.Be flexible with showings.
Be flexible with showings.
Buyers like to see homes on their schedule, which often means evenings and weekends. Plus, they want to be able to tour a home soon after they find it online, especially in a hot market where they're competing with other buyers. If your home can be shown with little or no notice, more prospective buyers will see it. If you require 24 hours’ notice, they may choose to skip your home altogether. "That's one less person who gets to see the property," Cohen says. Be ready to leave quickly as well – if you're still cleaning up or hanging around outside when the buyer arrives, it can make for an awkward interaction.Set the right price.
Set the right price.
No seller wants to leave money on the table, but the strategy of setting an unrealistically high price with the idea that you can come down later doesn’t work in real estate. Buyers and their agents have access to more information on comparable homes than ever, and they know what most homes are worth before viewing them. A home that’s overpriced in the beginning tends to stay on the market longer, even after the price is cut, because buyers think there must be something wrong with it. "Pricing correctly on the lower side tends to work much better," Cohen says.Remove excess furniture and clutter.
Remove excess furniture and clutter.
Nothing makes a home seem smaller than too much big furniture. Rent a self-storage container or a storage unit and remove as much furniture as you can. It will immediately make your home seem calmer and larger. Remove knickknacks from all surfaces, pack them away and store the pieces upon which you displayed them. Take a minimalist approach to books, throw rugs and draperies, and clear off your kitchen and bathroom countertops, even removing appliances you normally use. If you can scale down the contents of your closets, that’s even better, because it makes the home's storage space look more ample.Repaint in neutral colors.
Repaint in neutral colors.
A new coat of paint will do wonders to freshen up your home, both inside and out. This is the time to paint over your daughter’s purple bedroom, nix the quirky turquoise bathroom and cover up the red accent wall in your dining room. Busy wallpaper can also turn off potential buyers. Your goal is to create a neutral palette so buyers can envision incorporating their own personal touches in the home. "You just want people to see the space for what it is," Cohen says. Rather than a stark white, consider neutral shades of gray, taupe and cream on the walls.Spruce up the front of your home.
Spruce up the front of your home.
You’ve heard it 100 times before, and it’s still true: Curb appeal matters. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. A new or freshly painted front door, new house numbers and a new mailbox can breathe life into your entryway. Fresh landscaping and flowers in beds or in pots also enhance your home’s first impression. Trim trees and bushes, tidy up flower beds, remove dead leaves from plants, clear out cobwebs from nooks near the entrance and pressure-wash walkways, patios and decks. Leave the outdoor lights on, too, because prospective buyers may drive by at night.Here are 10 tips to sell your home faster:
Here are 10 tips to sell your home faster:
- Pick a selling strategy.
- Invest in a professional photographer.
- Clean everything.
- Depersonalize the home.
- Let the light in.
- Be flexible with showings.
- Set the right price.
- Remove excess furniture and clutter.
- Repaint in neutral colors.
- Spruce up the front of your home.