Smart and Sustainable Define New Homes in 2019

Building homes that are smart and energy efficient is no longer a fad; it is the direction the market is headed in

By BRIANNA FRIES

Spring has sprung and the first quarter of the 2019 year has wrapped up. As it stands now, things are looking brighter than they were at the end of 2018, a welcome change for everyone in the homebuilding industry. Builder confidence is up, mortgages seem to be staying level, and home designs and building approaches are adapting well to the wants and needs of an ever-changing market.

As we move into the second quarter of the year, a couple trends in homebuilding seem to stand out as leaders of the pack: smart home technology and sustainability. Multiple homebuilders have noticed this trend and hopped on board already, from Lennar’s Connected Home to the KB Smart Home System offered as a result of KB Home’s new partnership with Google.

Many of us would agree that today, smart home technology and sustainability in homes seem to go hand in hand. Homes with smart technology are easier to make more sustainable and energy-efficient, reducing residents’ overall living costs in the long run.

However, as the market adapts to the new technologies being released and showing up in more builds every month, we have also noticed that smart home technology is affecting more than just how the modern homebuyer adjusts their thermostat.

Keeping close to the idea of efficiency through temperature control, the most common way that smart technology is affecting new home trends is by allowing buyers the ability to more easily control their home’s energy usage. While the well-known way to do this is through reducing the amount of energy used to heat or cool the home, smart home technology can also provides the ability to customize lighting depending on when the resident is home or what time of day it is. Some technologies even track energy output and provide feedback to the user to help them optimize their energy usage!

Of course, branching off of this, we encounter the idea of a home filled with different types of easy-to-use, customizable, and interactive technology. The thought of this can come across as a little overwhelming, even to those of us that are more comfortable with today’s tech. Another way that smart home technology is affecting new homes is by mak- ing them more connective within themselves.

In her column, Barbara Schmidt observes that this trend was on the rise. She states that, “Just about every appliance manufacturer has an app that works with your smart phone… The next innovative step is finding ways for these apps to work together by sharing information.”

One home, multiple pieces of tech, and one app on your phone to control it all — plus the added benefit that all of this helps you lower your monthly bills and gives you more control over your home, even when you are away. Smart home technology almost sounds too good to be true.

The catch here is that smart home technology is also affecting how we market these new homes – because to a lot of people, it really does seem too good to believe.

Burk Moreland understands this hurdle and addresses it in his column on page 46. “If we want our customers to be excited about smart home features, we have to show them how the features will benefit them,” Moreland states. “Once we explain to them how smart home features will change their lives, they will begin to share our excitement.”

This means finding a way to market to the potential homebuyer that wants smart technology in their home along with the one that is wary but open to it. It means knowing how to market the addition of smart home technology in a new home as being worth the somewhat higher price tag that the customer will see – and being able to explain why that price is a number they can handle, because their monthly bills will be barely noticeable.

One example of this is found in Lennar’s new Everything Included® standard for their new home builds. KB Home markets their developments already outfitted with smart home technology and lets the buyer know that all the innovations they see in the home are included in the final price, thereby circumvent customer trepidation over being nickel-and- dimed later on.

The world is changing, and along with it, our homes are changing too. Building smart and sustainable is more than a fad now; it is the way the market is headed. The next steps will be seeing who can do more to make their next project the smartest and most energy-efficient available. What will set them apart is their ability to market the homes or community they build to multiple types of buyers, no matter their grasp on smart home technology.

As we enter the second quarter of 2019, the homebuilding market looks good, and it looks even better for those already jumping onto the smart, sustainable building trends.

Brianna Fries is the Editor of Builder and Developer Magazine. She can be reached at brianna@penpubinc.com.

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