Housing sector moving towards proptech and smart home technology

Technology that allows you to remotely control your home appliances isn’t new, but it’s becoming increasingly mainstream and is something developers, investors and landlords could use to entice tenants and enhance their offering.

One of the first companies to offer smart technology for residential properties to let occupants control their heating from their phone or other device was Hive, which launched its first Remote Heating Control service in 2012. Since then, and even before, new technology related to home living has soared.

The government is even planning to make access to high-speed broadband – of at least 10Mbps – a legal right for British homes and businesses by 2020, as connectivity becomes an ever more vital part of modern-day life.

For a while now, John Lewis has had an entire area in its stores in Leeds, Edinburgh, Oxford, Southampton and London Oxford Street dedicated to smart home technology, with hundreds of offerings related to heating, home security, voice-controlled gadgets, lighting and entertainment.

The store is also setting up an installation in its White City Westfield shop which offers a fully immersive experience of the various smart home technology on offer – the first of its kind in Europe working exclusively with Apple.

How buy-to-let landlords and investors can benefit

While the products may seem to be aimed at younger generations, research from Silk Road showed that most people aged 70-plus own a mobile phone, while 76.8% of them would like their property to have fast wifi or broadband, and more than half find the idea of enhanced door alarms, wifi smoke detectors and other smart appliances appealing.

As such technology is now becoming increasingly mainstream and affordable, it is something that landlords can arguably use to increase the appeal of their rental properties by creating a unique selling point, particularly as more and more people join Generation Rent and many of those are looking for high standards of living accommodation.

For example, smart locks enable landlords to lock and unlock doors to allow temporary access into properties, such as to allow a plumber or electrician in to carry out work. Cameras can also be installed and connected through an app on your phone, so you can see who is at the door and speak to them.

Smart home proptech can also be used to make homes much more energy efficient, which is even more important since the new EPC ratings rules came into effect for rented properties this month, and remotely controlling heating, lighting and other appliances can save energy. This month has also seen Barclays release its first green mortgage product, which offers savings on energy-efficient properties.

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