2020. The year that got run over by COVID19. Is there any industry that didn’t feel the impact? 

Some have been riding the tailwinds, while some, unfortunately, are coping against the headwinds…

Smart Homes fall somewhere in between, we’d say. Maybe even leaning towards the positive thanks to innovative technology and the promise it brings along to a homeowner. There have, however, been some adverse impacts owing to the global economic crash, no doubt. 

Yes, there has been an economic downturn…

Yes, there has been a constraint on supply and restraint on the consumer spend…

Yes, there have been disruptions in the entire supply chain – from manufacturing to installation and even support services…

But studies have shown that this negative impact is only temporary. In fact, on the other hand, the outlook towards adoption has seen a massive shift. While the immediate impact as we see it may look negative, there are clear indications that some of the structural changes and behaviourial patterns that have come into play this 2020, will drive the future course. 

Let’s take a brief look at how the market and consumer behaviour has changed over this last year, especially in the smart home sector. It is essential to invest some time in this, to truly understand what’s in store in the near future and how one can gear up for it.

The COVID19 impact

Over the past few years, smart home automation has perhaps been one of the most significant transformations seen in the residential real estate sector. We had discussed a fair deal on this front in our last blog on the global trends and Australia’s outlook. The adoption and acceptance of smart home technologies have been relatively rapid. 

2020, thanks to COVID19, saw this adoption accelerate further with people looking for connected homes, doubling up as schools and workplaces. Whatever could help make life easier, convenient, hassle-free, secure and ‘feel good’ during a raging global pandemic! 

The new normal has been about work-life balance at a whole new level – work-from-home, remote working, online schooling… ‘technology’ – no more a ‘luxury’. It is what has helped billions of us across the world get through this year so far, and continues to hold the spotlight in our lives!

This year, for anyone and everyone, the focus has been on health and safety, ability to seamlessly study/work from home and all that one would need for an elevated, homebody lifestyle. Here is a brief, sample list of use cases that one can look at to understand the COVID19 impact:

  • Contactless deliveries, of anything and everything! – enabled by smart locks, smart cameras and such other smart monitoring devices.
  • Smart solutions for the independent elderly living by themselves – to help with convenience, security, health and safety – smart sensors, smart lighting, monitoring devices to voice assistants. 
  • Connected homes, to study/ work from home – from smart speakers and hubs to app-controlled lighting/HVAC/ security systems, to ensure max productivity, and convenience. 
  • Smart cleaning devices to take the hassle out of everyday chores while dealing with the whole working/ schooling-from-home situation, with everyone confined to the home!
  • Smart entertainment needs…let’s just say, to help keep sane!

This is not an exhaustive list, but it is perhaps good enough to indicate the accelerated role of smart home automation in everyday lives, on the back of the pandemic.

Acknowledging this shift in awareness and demand, there has been an acceleration on the infrastructure development as well, as also the regulations around it. You have the biggest of the players in the home automation segment ramping up efforts to meet the consumer expectations.

This brings us to the users. The consumers. The home buyers. 

Yes, the expectations have changed; the outlook has changed. Smart Home Automation is no more a ‘luxury item’ on the home buyer’s list. It is safe to say we are now beyond that point. 

Buyer’s expectations & future of smart homes

81% of people say that they are more likely to purchase a home with smart technology in place. This is from a report published by Coldwell Banker sometime back. In the context of our discussion above on the past few months and its impact, where do you believe this number would be if surveyed now? We know the answer, don’t we?

Buyer’s expectation of a ‘home’ has changed with 2020 and COVID19. An integrated, connected home is what buyers want to invest in, today. And yes, they are willing to spend more for a home that is going to be their ‘safe-haven’, work-place, school and more. 

There are however, some complexities that do arise. Buyers are relatively more aware, yes, and there are a plethora of smart devices on the market to cater to the needs. However, there is a definite disconnect when it comes to putting together a home – a smart home. 

Owning a bunch of devices does not make a home a ‘connected home’. Knowing what mix of devices would work for the family (it is, after all, a family affair!), how best to configure them, how to integrate them and finally, control them with ease of access – this is what makes a smart home.There is a further twist – what happens when a couple of people at home, perhaps the elderly, want to continue using their switches say the conventional way? What happens then? 

Smart devices have to be seamlessly connected and configured to adapt to the residents’ lives rather than the other way around. These devices should ‘talk’ to each other, and with the residents! 

There are niche service providers who draw up smart plans as per the property layouts and requirements, integrating devices across brands/platforms/ecosystems, to bring it all together. They can be engaged right from the point of conceptualisation to installation, integration and service support. And yes, to answer the earlier question, when done right, smart devices and conventional systems can even co-exist in the house!

At present predominant Australian households have smart home automation incorporated in the form of ‘separate systems’ – where rooms have multiple devices, some integrated, some stand-alone. Connectivity and access remain largely fragmented. The use case settings are also seen to be limited for the above reasons. 

What is the expectation in the future? Integrated Homes. Connected Homes. Homes where devices are wholly integrated, working seamlessly together via a single application, configured with user scenarios thereby needing minimal controls. And mind you, the devices could be of any brand or provider. All it needs is a subject matter expert to bring it all together in a way it makes sense for the individual homeowner. 

This year has set some expectations in place which are here to stay. People increasingly want more connected living spaces – homes that come bundled with smart home technologies, from smart sensors to security systems to lighting/ HVAC.

In many ways this brings along a wealth of opportunities to explore and seize as builders and real estate developers. Incorporating smart home technologies into new builds or projects or even renovations would be a great way to maximise the property’s value. This is apart from the array of benefits it brings along to the residents including cost and energy efficiency. 

How can you gear up to meet these expectations?

It’s a good start to acknowledge this shift in buyer expectations! 

Times have changed. It is time to up the quotient on offerings to meet these expectations. There is a vision now of an integrated home, where connected devices deliver value to the whole family. This is the future. 

As mentioned above, while the pandemic has had some definite immediate impacts on the revenue, it is certain that the very same pandemic is going to help draw investment, drive greater adoption, and accelerated smart home technology integration.

Get yourself a smart home automation partner to approach this in a structured way. It would be important to understand what would work for your projects, which would bring that value-add, attract buyers and help sell better, faster. 

A surefire way to showcase and truly ‘show and tell’ the benefits of smart homes, would be to incorporate the best of smart solutions in your display home. Give your buyers a glimpse into the future, the unique experiences they could have, the comfort and convenience…Showcasing future-ready Smart Display Homes to your potential buyers can help,

  • attract more potential buyers
  •  enhance property value – a minimum 10% boost!
  • gain competitive advantage
  •  give your brand a ‘premium’ tag
  •  Sell more! Sell faster!

Do check out this video and you’ll get what we are talking about! 

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