Think Smart: Using Mobile-Compatible Technologies For Rental Housing

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A docking station or outlets aplenty to harbor smart devices is far from enough to make today’s home techno complete. New technologies that integrate with the home and control temperatures, door locks, sprinkler systems and security systems are giving the modern house a new image.

Scott Matthews, director of strategic accounts for Atlanta-based Home Depot, says new technology that enables residents and the property complete home control from the palms of their hands is making a difference in the residential leasing industry.  And in most cases, the technology is an inexpensive feature that is sure to catch the attention of prospects and help retain residents.

“Technology as an amenity can make a great first impression,” he said.

During RealWorld last month, Matthews presented with other panelists about what technologies are making an impact, as well as how electronic purchasing platforms help enhance and streamline operations through online ordering.

“You’ve got technology and it’s all at your phone,” he said. “You can raise the temperature in the house, lower the temperature. I can do anything from that phone. I can unlock my door from my phone, and everybody is connected to their phone. Controlling your house or apartment with that technology is very popular now.”

Here are four examples of smart device-enabled home technology that is making a difference in today’s homes:

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Programmable Thermostats

Several programmable Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats that can be controlled from smart phones and tablets intuitively understand when to turn on heating or cooling systems based on the home’s energy profile, outside weather and other data points. Many that are available for less than $300 are capable of helping to save up to $180 a year on utility bills.

Bluetooth-Enabled Door Locks

A newer technology gaining popularity is Bluetooth-enabled deadbolts. They allow residents and maintenance teams to more easily enter and secure the home using a phone or the fob, just by touching the lock. Owners can code locks by resident to enhance security, Matthews said. Users can send and manage electronic keys via smartphone for anytime, scheduled and 24-hour guest access.

“More and more people are using that Bluetooth technology as a way to save time and money when re-keying locks,” Matthews said. “We’re seeing some great growth there.”

Wi-Fi Intelligent Irrigation Controllers

Smart irrigation controllers managed by iOS or Android devices allow remote system access any time. Cloud-based software manages the sprinkler system using weather data to create custom schedules that can save up to 15 percent on water usage. A Wi-Fi intelligent controller can be hooked up to any irrigation system in about 30 minutes.

Security Systems with Real Time Monitoring

Home security systems that can be monitored from a smart phone or tablet are an added safety feature that is selling big and is relatively inexpensive, Matthews said. For about $400 per unit, an 8-channel surveillance system with cameras monitors inside the home in real time.

“We’ve seen a good uptick in those,” Matthews said. “It’s definitely a big draw up front but definitely peace of mind that we’re seeing with the residents. How do we retain those residents? This is a big reason why they stay. They can monitor it on their phone in real time.”

Smart phone-enabled devices make for more comfortable living for the residents, and add value to the home. Plus, they are something that rental prospects are likely to remember when they’re trying to find their next home, Matthews said.

“You can really drive that first impression.”

  • Trends indicate that people, especially millennials, are willing to spend a little more money on properties that have amenities such as these. Mobile technologies for the home not only provide peace of mind, but also ensure that properties are appealing to buyers and renters in a society that is becoming even more digital dependent.

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