The world is changing; technology has brought about a difference in the way we do things, the way we think and the way in which we live. In fact, there is no denying that the average person is keen on leveraging technology to make life easier, simpler and more enjoyable. This desire is not confined to the gadgets we own; it also extends to the major assets that we plan to purchase, in particular, our homes and where we live. When it comes to residential living, we know that a home is much more than four walls and a roof. The aspiring home buyer has a far bigger list of must-haves when they are searching for the perfect dream house, or even an apartment to rent. Real estate developers and property managers are happy to cater to this evolving taste and preference in every way possible to make their properties appealing. This is why we are witnessing a transformation in the way we live. Welcome to the future of living.
Tech happy homes will become the norm
Tech happy smart homes will become the norm, because like most industries, we are entering a revolution. Look at projected revenues for the smart homes market in the U.S. and you see that it is expected to grow at an annual growth of 17.62%, likely to touch $22.4 billion in 2020. Compare this with the $7.19 billion revenues recorded in 2013 and it is evident that a dramatic changeover is expected. Even in the present real estate marketplace, be it ownership or rental, technology is no longer an optional add-on or a part of the ‘desirables’ list. It is a must from the buyer’s perspective, and the marketplace is making it very clear that smart homes are going to get preferential treatment from aspiring homeowners and renters.
Look at some more statistics and the picture becomes even clearer. A Frost & Sullivan research indicates that the growing preference for home automation systems may actually shift the balance of power in this marketplace. This will happen with smaller or less popular builders gaining ground by offering smart homes ahead of their more well-known or well-established competitors.
A reflection of our changing lifestyles
A decade ago, most people used a desktop or laptop to access the Internet. Today, the desktop is on its way out, while the laptop seems to be following suit and the mobile device is ruling the roost as the one-device- that-does-it-all! Today, the consumer expects to be able to access the Internet from anywhere, at any time without having to be restricted to a specific device or location. In effect, this is a lifestyle change.
It is not the just the tools we use for technology that have changed, but the way in which we utilize technology itself and the degree to which our lives are interconnected with it. More importantly, we choose to be increasingly dependent on technology and that’s the way we like it. After all, it makes things easier and lets us have time for the most important things in life. Like family, friends, and the art of living.
A company that begins anew, manufacturing a range of desktops, is sure to close shop even before it manages to celebrate its first year anniversary. Similarly, a real estate developer who ignores the preferences of the marketplace and chooses to go traditional with his home design is unlikely to meet much success with his project. This new preference is an extension of our changing lifestyle, not a fad that is going to disappear as soon as the next one makes an appearance. That is why builders and property managers need to plan smart homes right from the beginning and not look at technology as an afterthought. In fact, it is equally important to explore ways to integrate technology in older communities so they don’t fall tremendously behind, thus loosing their “curb appeal”.
The connected home is truly that, connected! While we are becoming more and more connected through the Internet and mobile devices, the residential experience needs to follow suit because it is truly a “lifestyle” the consumer wants and the property manager / building owners need to embrace.
What do the present day residents want?
For the present day home buyer or renter, add-ons like a gym or swimming pool or rooftop deck may still be attractive features that make a location more desirable. But when it comes to technology, the consumer is going to look at the features as essentials in the home. Gyms and pools may be great amenities that can justify a hike in the price tag, but a home that is not ‘connected’ may not be attractive for residents, remember, it’s a lifestyle. The new residential experience is all about utilizing the latest technology to make life easier for the residents.
It is not only the real estate developers, builders or architects who have to understand this evolving customer and cater to them. Technology businesses that create (or can create) products that can be added to houses or communities need to identify this transformation and step in to bridge the gap while helping their own businesses flourish. This is already happening to some degree. A good example is the digital package notification platform from SecureConcierge, which seamlessly sends the resident of an apartment building or complex a notification via text or email when they have a delivery or package at their buddings’ lobby or front desk. The platform is easy to manage for the property manager and whoever manages your front desk, be it a concierge, a dedicated front desk attendant, or even your security officer. The package(s) are scanned via a mobile app (available on iOS) and is absolutely convenient and useful for the resident because they don’t have to do anything except pick up their delivery once they receive a notification.
The future of residential living is even more visible in the rental market, as renters are expecting their property management company, security company, and any off-site vendors to have features like these that give them a better lifestyle experience. To ensure that this is possible, the front-of-house staff must have the same level of technological sophistication as the back-of-house staff.
Residents are increasingly looking for an ecosystem within which they can live life in the most simplified, convenient way they are accustomed to thanks to brand new technology. For the real estate developer or property manager, the plus from all of this is that having technology solutions is viewed as a justification for hikes in rent. Residents want to know that their rent/HOA/Property dues are going towards products and services that will make their living experience that much more enjoyable. If they are convinced of this, they are happy to pay more for the apartment whether in terms of rent or purchase price.
A surprising aspect about the transforming views and preferences of real estate consumers is that it is widespread and not at all limited to New Gen buyers or renters. When it comes to technology, the automatic assumption is that it is something that may have great value to the younger generation consumer but not to the older ones. However, this thirst for technologically efficient homes is not just the characteristic of millennials or Gen X consumers, even baby boomers at the sunset of their lives are keen on smart homes.
In fact, the trend is for baby boomers to move back to the city and when they do, they expect and demand the luxuries and efficiencies that technology has to offer. This is easy to understand if we realize that technology reduces the physical strain that we undergo in so many ways and smart homes can come packed with features that eliminate these substantially. Cost savings is another important benefit that smart homes offer. A case in point: the Nest Learning Thermostat, which can cut down heating and cooling bills by as much as 20% is sure to catch a home owner’s fancy for the consistent savings it can yield year after year.
Another important aspect is safety, and connected homes have the ability to alert loved ones to check in on the occupant if certain regular activities aren’t being carried out as usual. Add to this the increased security from non-health related threats (such as burglars or even fire accidents) that is possible with tech happy homes and it is evident that older consumers are only being smart in choosing connected homes. A good example is the app based iSmart Alarms home alarm system that lets the resident watch over the property without having to be physically present at home. The system does not even carry the monthly fee that the homeowner would shell out for traditional security systems.
Rents are increasing and urbanism explosion is a fact that is undeniable. However, the consumer of today and even more so, the consumer of the future is going to be keenly exploring how a house is designed to give them the best possible features and conveniences that can result in happy living. This Return on Living Experience or ROLE will play a key role in helping the consumer decide on where to live. A real estate developer who understands this and aligns home design towards this consumer preference is sure to grab the biggest market share in the coming years.
Interested in learning more about SecureConcierge and how it can give your residents a better living experience? Click here