How to Incorporate Smart Technology into Your Rental Property
By Kerry Curry, Contributing Writer
Integrating smart technology into your residential rental property could raise the demand and rents in higher-end houses, but may not be a wise choice for lower-end properties.
Smart home technology refers to all those recent innovations that automate a home and typically involve controlling the home’s features remotely from a smartphone or tablet. Smart home features can include heating and air conditioning, lighting, security systems, window blinds and electronic devices.
When renovating a rental property, it is important to not overdo your smart technology additions, as this will begin to affect your return on investment. A renter of a higher-end property will likely notice the quality of the appliances, flooring, countertops, room layout and neighborhood quality before being drawn to smart technology.
Think of smart technology as an extra perk that could lift your property over one that is nearly identical. Look for technology that will attract renters, but that won’t break the bank.
Here are a few smart home innovations to consider:
- Smart thermostat. One of the most common smart home features is the smart thermostat. Because smart thermostats have been around a few years they don’t have the “wow” factor they used to command, but renters will certainly appreciate the opportunity to adjust their heating and air remotely and potentially save money on their utility bills. A basic programmable thermostat starts at about $99. Those with more bells and whistles, such as the Nest 3rd Generation learning thermostat, cost about $250. The Nest 3rd Generation learns from you and programs itself. It can be controlled by phone, tablet or laptop.
- Smart door locks. A smart door lock allows your tenant to unlock the door remotely via an app on a smartphone or tablet. Think about how convenient this would be if you were away and you needed to give a friend, family member, pet caregiver or repairman access to the property. The application also keeps a log of who enters the property in case you ever need that information.
- Smart security system. Need to arm or disarm the system remotely? Smart security systems come with a variety of bells and whistles. Do-it-yourself starter kits start at about $150. Systems will cost more depending on the number of doors and windows you want to protect and whether you opt for professional 24/7 monitoring. For those interested in learning more, PC Magazine recently rated the best smart home security systems of the year.
- Security lighting. Smart lighting provides peace of mind for a high price, but for some, it might be worth it. BeOn’s smart bulbs aren’t cheap ($200 for three bulbs), but a built-in battery allows them to be turned on when the power goes out. The bulbs communicate with your smartphone and turn on automatically when they hear your doorbell or alarm, and will replay your typical lighting patterns when you’re away from home. You can get entry-level smart bulbs much cheaper, for about $15 per bulb, without as many bells and whistles. See C|Net for a review of smart bulbs.
- Smart smoke/CO2 detector. This feature likely will be more attractive to property investors than tenants as a smoke detector is one of those safety features we know we need, but it’s not one most people will get excited about. The Nest Protect will set you back about $93 but it will last up to 10 years. The detector, which integrates with a smartphone, talks with a friendly human voice. When one Nest alarm speaks, they all speak, so an alarm in a bedroom can tell you there’s smoke downstairs. It also integrates with other Nest products. Other brands are also available.
One thing to consider is that technological advancements for the home are a fast-moving target. The latest feature with the “wow” factor may be quickly out of date, so consider wisely.
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