The chances are that you already have some type of smart device in your home that you’ve become quite reliant on without even noticing. The Amazon Echo smart speaker, for example, now has such a range of skills that there’s very little it can’t do for you within your house, if you want it to.
Another example of its rapid rise is the fact that news presenters, radio hosts and other types of media are now discouraged from saying “Alexa” live on air. This is thanks to the famous case in 2017 where a news presenter reported about a little girl ordering a doll house via her parents' Echo, saying “I love the little girl saying 'Alexa order me a doll house'", sparking even more orders as viewers smart speakers recognised the command.
Google, of course, has its own version and there are many more imitation products that have now become something of a fixture in modern homes.
Not just smart speakers, however. There are now a huge number of products on the market for consumers who’d like to introduce further technology into their homes. Smart doorbells (which have a video stream directly to your smartphone), smart fridges (which can send push notifications to your phone about items you need to replace), and even smart hoovers, which can be told which rooms to clean by your phone.
For landlords, this is something of a conundrum; whilst the tech can sometimes be expensive, could it be worth installing it to increase rental revenue and occupancy rates? For example, although it could cost thousands to install a smart heating and lighting system (depending on the size of the property), could this in turn allow you to command more in monthly rental? Could it also mean longer and better occupancy rates and better tenants?
Figures released by Statista in the US revealed that by the end of 2018, they’d estimated that more than 45 million smart devices would have been installed, making the average household spend on smart technology a massive $490.
Similarly, the growth in this market is estimated yearly at 22%, growing to an annual total of $20bn revenue for home automation companies.
That’s all well and good for landlords in the US but what about attitudes to smart technology in the UK? Well, research from Ernst & Young's Consumer Attitudes Survey found that 49% of British consumers are now familiar with the features and benefits of smart technology in the home.
Research performed by Smart Home Week also found that there are now 15 million ‘smart homes’ in Britain, with 57% of homes now owning a smart device.
The poll of 2000 British adults also found that 45% intend to increase their use of smart technology across the home, with the vast majority (72%) saying that the living room was the best suited room in the house, followed by the kitchen (53%) and the bedroom (34%) respectively.
What could this mean for investors and landlords?
When we consider the advancement of technology, it’s perhaps easy sometimes to feel a little intimidated and out of the loop. Technology is advancing quickly and there is a well known and well accepted rule that attitudes towards the costs of this type of technology often don’t match the actual long term costs.
In 1965 the co-founder of chip giant Intel, Gordon Moore, published a paper after he noticed that the computing capacity of the chips that his company produced were doubling every year. Moore predicted that this trend would continue into the foreseeable future, before revising the timescale to two years in 1975.
The broad idea that became known as ‘Moore’s Law’, that technological capacity doubles every two years, has been proven true almost every year since its publication 50 years ago.
The point being that most now understand that failing to embrace new technologies often leaves you left behind. If, for example, you failed to install a smart meter into one of your rental properties due to the fact it cost £150, and somebody else did, the chances are that you’d lose much more than £150 over the course of time.
The same can be said for property investors when seeking out the best long-term investments. Utilisation of technology is key to high occupancy rates, the maximum rental yields and the best tenants.
It’s one of the reasons that we have fitted all apartments in our Uptown development with Wondrwall technology. Wondrwall is an “intelligent living system that makes your home adapt to your needs and desires – automatically controlling heating, lighting, security and safety, with voice control technology to change any of the settings at any time.”
Wondrwall can also reduce energy consumption by 20% and energy bills by as much as 90%.
When we consider the target market for exclusive city centre living, these are absolutely the types of technology that savvy investors should seek to utilise.
It’s hard to tell exactly where our technological advances may be in even five years' time, but the consumer research provides quite compelling evidence that embracing these leaps in technological ability, landlords and investors can truly maximise their investment potential.
It is advisable that, when researching your investments, potential property purchases and current portfolio, you take the time to investigate the technology that already exists and, indeed, the future potential of any property to become a truly “smart” home.