As society becomes more forward-thinking, smart technology is moving into our homes. Today's guest, Chad Curry, joins Monica to talk about smart home technology and other pieces of technology that affect REALTORS® and homeowners. In addition to discussing what types of technology are emerging, Chad shares several resources that can help inform consumers about how people are using smart home technology and what benefits there are.
Chad works as the Managing Director of the Center of REALTOR® Technology. Founded in 2001, its initial purpose was to help improve data standards in the real estate industry. Since he took over in 2011, they've started looking at emerging technology, and what smart home technology means for consumers, as well as autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence. They have a lab where people can come see what they’re doing and are involved in outreach.
There are several different types of smart home technologies — some of these include smart hubs, thermostats, smart locks, cameras, and air-quality systems. You can visit their website (see below) for handouts for these different verticals, that describe the pros and cons as well as how they work and why people are interested in them. For REALTORS®, you can share these with your clients as well.
Smart technology really started to grow with the Nest thermostat. It has a lot of features that allow you to save energy. Currently, they test about 80 different devices in their lab. Many people consider these devices to be for younger buyers, but really they are for all sorts of consumers. At the Center for REALTOR® Technology, they are looking at partnering with the University of Illinois to create a smart home for people who want to age in the place. The main goal is home energy management, and also creating universal design systems that make it easier to access things in the house. This includes voice activation that could control the lights and the locks.
Devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home both have numerous business they partner with and are compatible with several devices. Right now these devices communicate one-way, but they do allow for a lot of control and a lot of freedom. The instant connection with the voice activation can also save time by cutting out micro-interactions and prevent distraction (if you aren’t having to use your phone to access them).
Some devices may stay with the house or may move with the individuals. They are usually so connected with a person's phone, but they can be reset if the homeowner wants to leave them behind. CRT has developed an application called Smart Home Checklist that allows you to walk through a house with a client with smart home technology and identify which devices they want to leave behind, and then they can use the list to know which devices they need to reset for the next homeowner.
REALTORS® need to remember that even if you are not using the products, your clients could potentially be using them. REALTORS® need to be knowledgeable about them because they are part of the transactions. You have to think about what's important to your buyers in owning a new home, and Chad provides some resources that can help facilitate these conversations with your clients.
When it comes to privacy, we need to think about what privacy means for us. Some people aren't comfortable with having voice assistant devices in their homes. Some of these have mute buttons that deactivate the microphone when it's on so it won't pick up what you're saying. Letting some data be accessible to companies can provide a benefit to the consumer. Chad shares some examples of what he benefits from when he travels. There are some digital identify projects being worked on that may provide us more control over our online data. When it comes to showing a house that has smart home technology, you want to be aware and talk about this with a potential buyer.
Monica and Chad talk about the smart city movement, and examples in Chicago and Toronto where projects are monitoring things like air quality, temperature, and humidity, as well as foot traffic and car traffic. There are matters of privacy, but Chad explains some of the measures in place to protect privacy. The data collected from these projects is valuable for commercial real estate, as well as for urban planners.
Insurance and utility companies often offer rebates or discounts for installing smart devices in the home. The Center for Real Estate Technology is working the Department of Energy on a project called the Home Energy Information Accelerator. This provides data sort of like a Carfax for the home. Having this data allows you to take action on improving the efficiency of the home, and also allows you to have the history of that data that you can share with potential buyers to increase the value of the home.
There are some other smaller smart home technologies available. There are air quality sensors, and Chad talks about some sensors they are working to develop that will collect data for the whole house on how the home performs. Chad also talks about the Roomba vacuums and how they learned that as they move around the room they create a map of that space. On the subject of robots, there are certain tasks that computers and robots can take over, and in some cases, that's fine because it allows us to focus on other areas of work that focus on elevating the work itself. The in-person interaction remains incredibly important for the emotional aspects of buying a house.
Blockchain is usually presented in the context of bitcoin or other crypto-currency. It is a type of database where there is a historical database of things that are changed, rather than things being overwritten. Chad talks about how this database can benefit REALTORS® by making transaction time more efficient. Having a higher degree of visibility and transparency is only good for the industry. Blockchain may also allow people to be assigned digital IDs, which will allow websites to ask permission to access different parts of data.
Self-driving cars are another way of the future. An average car owner uses their car about 5% of the time they own the vehicle. This allows a lot of downtime for the vehicles to be parked somewhere, and in some cases that might cost a lot of money. With autonomous vehicles, your car could take you to work and then work as an Uber or something before it comes back and picks you up from work. They may also make driving safer and decrease traffic and parking violations.
People are worried about the future of work, but Chad thinks it's not something to be worried about. The type of work may change, but there will likely be a lot of opportunities to work with our hands. Maker spaces are becoming more popular, where people have access to things they wouldn't normally have for themselves. This access to tools can help people create things they wouldn't otherwise be able to create.
About the Center for REALTOR® Technology
The Center for REALTOR® Technology is a multi-disciplinary technology research and development group at NAR. We investigate emerging technologies and determine how they would be used to support REALTORS®. CRT also offers consultation to members on their web properties and strategies for improving their technological acumen. Check our work out at https://crtlabs.org. We:
- Research, write and develop white papers and thought pieces on various technology topics and how they affect the future of real estate.
- Designed the layout, charts, and graphs for the annual Technology Survey.
- Overall lead in initial implementation ofhttps://www.nar.realtor using latest technologies, such as Responsive Web Design, HTML5/CSS3, and jQuery in 2011.
- Collaborate with multiple departments, senior management, CEO, and association members to improve technologies and promote innovation.
- Present to audiences ranging from state and local associations to crowds of 600+ at national industry events.
- Board member of the Real Estate Standards Organization, the standards body that oversees the RETS standard as well as others.
- Team Lead for the Case Studies Group in the newly formed Internet of Things Council.
- Member of Illinois Technology Association.
- “We need to have a knowledge base about it [smart home products] because it’s becoming part of the transaction.” — Monica
- “All of this stuff is optional in the home. Your comfort level dictates that.” — Chad on privacy and smart home technology
- “The thing about having access to this data as a homeowner is that it allows you to take action.” — Chad
- “The human aspect is very important to a very emotional decision someone is making. It’s one of the largest investments.” — Chad