Investing in a “Smart” Home In 2017, better gadgets mean better living.

Concept illustration of a smart home. Illustration, home automation, technology, light bulb, temperature, lock, sprinkler, icons.
Concept illustration of a smart home. Illustration, home automation, technology, light bulb, temperature, lock, sprinkler, icons.

It’s official. The Internet of Things is here to stay, and everything from your stereo to your refrigerator to your home security system can be integrated, automated and controlled from your phone or your Apple Watch. It’s a brave new tech world, where better gadgets mean better living.

Homes featuring integrated systems, appliances and technology offer customization and convenience for homeowners. Imagine leaving for work in the morning and turning off your home’s heat—and then scheduling it to restart before you walk in the door again. Companies are perfecting smart systems that can control lighting, heating and cooling with the touch of an app.

But when everything is interconnected—from your oven to your window blinds—how do homeowners decide which upgrades to purchase?

Which smart features have the best staying—and selling—power? And how realistic—or doable—is the purchase?

“The technology is most prevalent in homes priced over the $1 million range and also in newly constructed homes,” says Pam Wilcox, director of builder relations and a Realtor with the Creig Northrop Team of Long & Foster. “As the technology becomes more cost-efficient and new homes continue to be built with smart technology features, more and more homeowners will see the benefits these new options offer.”

When making a smart home purchase, Wilcox advises homeowners to always make sure that a certified smart home technician performs the installation. Trained inspectors should also routinely inspect appliances—if the appliance itself isn’t capable of self-diagnosing and troubleshooting. It’s also wise, says Wilcox, to ensure that all warranties on purchases are transferable.

Charlie Hatter, owner of Monument Sotheby’s International Real Estate and director of sales for the Four Seasons Private Residences at the Inner Harbor, says smart appliances are investment pieces—technology that doesn’t necessarily move when you do.

“When it comes to a smart home, there are so many benefits and features,” he says. “The higher- end the appliance, for example, the more value the property has. At the Four Seasons, everything is touch-tone pad—your television, your climate control, your music, all controlled on a touch-tone screen or your smartphone. It’s very efficient, and a great selling feature.”

He says he sees clients investing in smart sound systems, manageable from a smartphone or tablet, with automated volume and song library control. “Based on the new upgrades we’re seeing, sound systems are a big selling feature right now,” Hatter says.

Stuart Bunyea, a designer with the high-end Stuart Kitchens on Reisterstown Road, says his job is to pair his clients with the smart appliance that’s right for them. “My role as a designer is to eliminate the mental clutter and focus on the needs of the client,” he says.

He pays close attention to where brands focus their energy, noting that brands with the most advertisements usually offer short-term warranties, but that Stuart Kitchens brands like Wolf and Sub-Zero offer extended warranties, and test their products to endure 20 years of heavy use or longer.

In addition to prestige performance, the brands at Stuart Kitchens offer customization without frivolous add-ons. Every brand of oven carried at Stuart Kitchens is programmable to cook at certain times, which is perfect for clients whose religious observances restrict the work—and cooking—they can perform on holy days.

Most Stuart Kitchens ovens also have ports for attaching thermometers, and can reverse-engineer a meal’s cook time, guaranteeing that roasts and poultry are cooked to the perfect internal temperature every time. The Sub-Zero brand of refrigerator can self-diagnose any repairs it might need, and Stuart Kitchens designers can help pair appliances with integrated front looks that disguise appliances with cabinet fronts, keeping the look of the kitchen sleek and sophisticated.

Making a smart home purchase is the first step in a home investment that not only pays off in convenience and enjoyment for you, but can also pay off when it comes time to sell—when every buyer falls in love with your stylish and smart living space.

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