We’re really excited to write today about our new survey, which highlights the emerging technology needs of our membership and our work. We’re kicking things off with our first survey for CRT Labs: the Smart Homes &REALTORS® Survey. This is an insightful look into what our members and their clients know about smart home technology and where we can help you learn and grow your business in the smart home space.
Member Interest in Smart Home Tech
One of the most exciting things we see in the survey is the amount of interest members have in smart devices and how they can use them in their business. Based on our data, it is not just new and young agents who are interested in this technology, but more seasoned members of the REALTOR® population. A prime example of this is seen in this question about interest in an NAR Smart Home Certification.
What we note is that almost half of those surveyed were interested in a certification program. The characteristics of those interested in a certification are surprising to me in a good way. Looking at the median experience, hours of work, and age, we see that members working full-time and near the overall median member age of 54 are interested in this type of certification; this type of certification appears valuable to industry veterans.
When we move to the second tier of characteristics and break down interest by years of experience, we see that over half of those who say they are interested in a certification had more than 16 years of experience. We also see that members aged 55 and up are very interested in this type of certification.
Currently, NAR does not offer such a certification or designation – but, if you are interested in gaining some knowledge on smart home tech and energy efficiency (and I suggest you consider it because younger buyers are very interested in these features), NAR does have the GREEN designation, with a section on smart home technology and advantages to clients with respect to energy efficiency as part of this designation. Also, if you are interested in getting a better handle on the terms and concepts behind smart home technology, check out our smart home glossary and our internet of things FAQ.
Client Interest in Smart Home Tech
One of the big reasons for NAR members to understand this technology is because your clients will be interested in what these devices can offer them.
These responses are insightful, and confirm that security and privacy are top priorities for clients. Concerns around these two topics have been evident for a while and have become hot topics since the Mirai attacks. Start with our Smart Home Checklist (415 downloads) to help clients with these concerns. What is surprising to me is that comfort remains in the middle of the pack as far as importance of functionality goes. That’s typically been a big selling point for these devices. If you look at the “Very Important” slice by itself, you get the top 5 in this order:
- Security 51%
- Privacy 45%
- Cost Savings 44%
- Energy Savings 42%
- Comfort 38%
When you combine the “Very Important” numbers with the “Somewhat Important” column, the functions shift:
- Security 81%
- Energy Savings 78%
- Cost Savings 77%
- Privacy 75%
- Comfort 71%
Energy Savings and Privacy swap places. I’m not declaring anything definitive here, just highlighting an unexpected shift. Privacy moves down the list and Energy Savings rise. It’s not a huge difference between that and Cost Savings, but could be an indicator of future importance for these areas. We’ll be keeping an eye on this.
For us, another interesting function-related finding was that Air Quality rated low. My personal opinion is that this will shift in the coming years as more devices and projects become available and consumers are more aware of the impact that air quality has on comfort and energy efficiency. This is a vertical we are going after with our Rosetta Home and PiAQ projects. Air quality will be key in the function of a smart home. We envision a home that reacts and self-regulates to keep you comfortable and safe. These metrics from air quality will inform decisions made by your house.
What You Can Do
So what can you take from this report and use in your business today? Well, a lot! First, the most surprising graph to me:
According to this, only 2% of you have given a smart home device as a closing gift. Most likely there are a few reasons for this:
- Not understanding what’s on market
- Concerns around privacy and security
Definitely start thinking about the potential of these devices, which are available at a variety of price points, as gifts. First, you can consult our gift guides here:
You can also look at our thermostat tear sheet for more options. Giving these devices as closing gifts are a way to keep the conversation going after closing. These devices last beyond a bottle of champagne and have the potential to offer improved living for homeowners. There is an opportunity for marketing yourself in a much different way.
I wanted to close by saying that there is a lot for us here to work with to offer opportunities for you to help clients navigate the emerging smart home space. Smart home tech is here to stay for these reasons:
- Devices are becoming cheaper and more feature-rich.
- Security for these devices is becoming more important.
- Other verticals (utilities and insurance among them) are paying attention and penetrating the market with offerings.
Knowing what you’re interested in, combined with the ever-changing tech world, helps us at CRT Labs with our primary goals: to educate, innovate, and advocate for the future of technology and real estate.