What to Know When Selling a Smart Home

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Smart home technology is becoming more and more popular among homeowners.  In fact, per a recent survey by HGTV, forty-six percent of consumers want their current or next home to have smart home technology.  These gadgets are beginning to reshape how homes operate, and they are influencing our industry such as staging homes, holding open houses, setting sales prices, etc.  With products, such as locks, light bulbs, security systems, appliances and thermostats able to be controlled via smartphone or tablet, an estimated 100 million households worldwide had some type of smart home device by the end of 2015.  Per a German telecommunications company, that number is expected to grow to 300 million over the next decade!

You may ask, what exactly IS a smart home??  “Smart Home” is the term commonly used to define a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio & video systems, security, and camera systems that are capable of communicating with one another and can be controlled remotely by a time schedule, from any room in the home, as well as remotely from any location in the world by phone or internet. 1

Now more than ever, real estate agents need to be up to speed with the latest products and trends to stay ahead of the curve.  As we mention in our CE class, Selling to Millennials, the Gen Y generation seeks out smart home technology specifically when buying a home.  Representing a millennial Buyer?  Education on this technology is key.  Listing a home with smart home technology?  It is a good idea to label these gadgets with a short blurb on what they do to educate a potential Buyer that may not realize they are there.  Make sure you sit with the Seller and have extensive knowledge of the smart home features so you can show them off in open houses and showings!  (Remember, over 46% of homebuyers are looking to have smart technology in their next home.)

Here are a few of the most common smart home gadgets you may see:

Amazon Echo or Google Home – These devices are smart speakers that respond to your voice commands to play music and control your smart home gadgets.  With all the different gadgets out there, it can be a lot to manage.  These systems let you connect everything to one hub for control.

Nest Thermostat –  This thermostat not only lets you control your central heat & air via an app on your smartphone, it’s a learning thermostat as well.  It “learns” your behavior with your heat and air and creates a schedule for you.  **On a side note for our Austin, Texas readers, in case you missed it, check out this article detailing a new city regulation requiring smart thermostats in all NEW houses and apartments built in Austin.

Skybell Doorbell – Skybell is a smart video doorbell that allows you to see, hear, and speak to the visitor at your door whether you’re at home, at work, or on the go via an app on your smartphone.

Serena Remote Control Shades – This is just one of many brands of remote control shades letting you control your shades to add convenience and help save on energy via an app on your smartphone.

Nest Protect Smoke Alarm – From features like self-testing, night lighting and voice alerts, the Nest Protect smoke alarm is a very advance smoke alarm system.  You are able to “hush” it directly from your phone and it also tells you what’s wrong as a pop up on your smartphone.

With all this being said, typically one of the biggest concerns regarding any type of technology to any consumer is privacy & security, which is completely understandable.  If you come across a Seller that is concerned about privacy when selling their home equipped with smart home technology, refer to this nifty checklist the Online Trust Alliance and the National Association of REALTORS® recently teamed up to create.  It’s a “smart home checklist,” providing consumers with information to increase the security and privacy of their smart home at resale.


FYI:  The Center for REALTOR® Technology has set up a lab at NAR headquarters in Chicago to explore the latest in smart home technology innovations. Read more at CRT’s Bits and Bytes blog.

Are You Utilizing Zillow’s Video Walk-through Feature?

zillow-1Earlier this year, Zillow released a new feature allowing Realtors to post a “video walk-through” of their listings.  These video walkthroughs are soundless videos that are shot directly from the user’s smart phone via Zillow’s app.  They are capped at two minutes and no less than 10 seconds, so they are designed to be quick and best of all, this feature is offered to ALL agents at no cost.

So why are you telling us about this, you may ask?!  Well, after posting a video, these listings will be promoted at the TOP of search results (for free!)  According to Zillow:  “Listings with video are prominently displayed and receive preferred placement in search results. Buyers with saved searches are notified when a new video is added.”  If you don’t believe it, head over to Zillow and do a search on your favorite zip code.  The top results will have “video walk-through” on them.  Remember this is a new feature, so your zip code may not have any agents doing it yet.

With all of this being said, if you are thinking what we were thinking….  yikes is right!  Holding a shaky phone and walking through a home without the proper lighting, etc. can be a really bad thing!  (That’s why you pay to have a professional take the photos, right?!)  Our suggestion on a quick fix?  As mentioned above, the video has a MINIMUM of 10 seconds.  Order yourself a simple smartphone tripod from Amazon like this one, find out when the sun is in the right spot (whether you are going to showcase an inside shot or just simply a quick pan of the front) and get out there and shoot a 10 second video.  Don’t overthink the two minute video they tell you to do and try to film a bunch of different shots.  Again, that’s why you paid for the professional photos!  Get the 10 second video shot, post the video from the app and your listing will get boosted to the top of the search results!  Don’t fret – your beautiful, professional photos will still be there and the consumer will still be able to click through them to see more of the home.

So we ask you:  Why are you not doing this with your listings?!  Click here to get started.

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Shoot the video directly from the app on your smartphone!

*UPDATE 11/3/2016 – Zillow just announced you can now add videos that aren’t shot within the app for a fee.  According to the latest Inman article, for $149, you can upload an outside video, i.e. a professionally done video.  Does that fee sound a little steep?!  Don’t throw in the flag, you can still follow our tips above for FREE!!

 

Top Five Tech Tips for Real Estate Agents

 

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The Education Team of Independence Title frequently attends conferences and webinars to stay up with the latest and greatest in technology in the real estate industry. Using that information, we created a list of “tech tips” that we think are worth your while. Here’s the first 5 for you to check out:

1)  LinkedIn Export

Did you know you can export the email address and job title/company of all of your LinkedIn connections into an excel file for an easy upload into say… your CRM?!  YES!  We were just as shocked and it’s easy to do.  You can simply follow this LINK (you must be logged into LinkedIn) or click on “connections” on your home page in LinkedIn, click on the settings wheel, and then export your connections.  VOILA!

2)  Assistant.to

Have you ever tried to book a meeting with someone and end up 15 emails later with no agreement on time/date?  So frustrating, right?  Wouldn’t you love to eliminate the back and forth and just send one email with all of your availability and then they can select the time slot that works for them?  AND wouldn’t it be cool if it auto adds to both of your calendars as soon as they select the time slot?!  CLICK HERE to see this life saver you won’t be able to live without.  Note** This is only available for Gmail users through a google extension for our google calendar.  (We see they are working on compatibility with outlook so stay tuned!)  We can’t help but love the quote on their site:  THE TROUBLE WITH BEING PUNCTUAL IS THAT NOBODY’S THERE TO APPRECIATE IT ” — Franklin P. Jones  🙂

3)  RE Clarity App

Out of town clients?  Use the REclarity App to send specific, personalized zoom and point video messages that communicate as if you were there in person.  You can showcase key features of a home that is tailored to a particular client’s needs such as providing specific instructions or requests to contractors for repairs, property management or staging, follow up with clients and answer questions, share visual status on repair work or construction or report/describe property damage or areas in need of attention.  Click HERE for a video demo.  We think this will definitely make you look like a ROCK STAR to your clients!

4)  Google Alerts

Did you know you can get an email as soon as something hits the internet?  Want to stay on top of anything that is on the web about you?  Or maybe a client?  Maybe you want instant updates about a product you like or to keep up with news stories…  By creating a Google Alert, you can get email notifications any time Google finds new results on a topic that interests you.  No need to keep hitting refresh…  CLICK HERE to get started.

5)  GBoard for iPhone

Last but not least, we all got really excited about this one.  It’s a keyboard add on for your iPhone (we hear it’s coming to Android sooner rather than later so stay tuned!)  Basically its main functionality is to eliminate the frustrating back and forth we all go through when bouncing between apps; no more Google searching, copying the link, jumping back into messages, and then pasting the results.  Watch this quick little video… We’re pretty sure you’ll be racing to download it like we did!