Photo: James Bombales

Technology has simplified and revolutionized many aspects of the real estate industry, from electronic signatures on purchase agreements to virtual open houses. Particularly during the height of the pandemic, digital alternatives to everyday realty practices played a crucial role in keeping things running when in-person interactions were at their most restricted.

Smart technology is becoming a growing presence in an effort to make our lives more convenient and productive, even finding its way into the newest homes being bought and sold.

Onkar Dhillon, vice-president of operations at TCS Marketing Systems, says that smart homes are becoming the standard today. Especially following a series of pandemic-induced lockdowns and quarantines, consumers want to have easy access to information about their home and the convenience of doing things remotely.

In its recently-released 2021 Reno Report, HomeStars noted that Canadians have embraced technology trends at home that boost energy efficiency, simplify processes and enhance security measures. Over two-thirds of the report’s respondents said that they had at least one smart home technology device.

“Smart homes are not the future anymore, they are now the norm,” said Dhillon.

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Dhillon explained the price of real estate is continuing to rise across the Greater Toronto Area, and integrating smart home technologies into new construction projects is becoming more common as a result. Cost efficiencies combined with convenience is driving consumer interest in pre-construction housing.

In August, benchmark price for new single-family homes reached a record high of $1,521,968 while the benchmark price for a condo apartment reached $1,069,700, according to the latest insights from the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD).

“Maintenance fees are definitely a driver for both developers and buyers looking to curtail costs,” said Dhillon. “Individual metering with smart thermostats, smart lighting and other energy-saving features are being integrated into most new development projects where buyers are looking for a combination of savings and convenience.”

TCS Marketing Systems’ vice-president of sales, Glen Buttigieg, said new home buyers are attracted to a number of in-house technologies that range from utility monitoring to simple mail collection. For instance, in today’s one-click buying world, homeowners want to know when their package has arrived so they can pick it up from their storage locker, said Buttigieg. They want to adjust their suite’s thermostat temperature with a few taps on their cell phone, or have the ability to charge their electric vehicle overnight.

“This convenience that is offered can sway a buyer to purchase in one building over another,” said Buttigieg.

Photo: Jonas Leupe / Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic has also played a role driving consumer desires for at-home technologies, particularly those focused around working from home. It’s not uncommon for developers to tout amenities such as Zoom rooms, on-site co-working spaces and even fully-equipped boardrooms that can accommodate remote working without the need to leave your own building.

With the home getting so much more use now and the work-from-home movement here to stay, Buttigieg explains that developers are taking these factors into consideration when planning projects.

“There is a need to have the best internet possible available and it is best complimented by work spaces in the building to allow for residents to work from their ‘home,’ offices,” said Buttigieg. “Additionally, energy costs of being home more have risen and integrating smart technology to monitor this is an attractive feature developers are using in projects.”

With smart home technology making things faster and easier, Dhillon believes that the industry will continue to see more integration that will allow homeowners to manage their property remotely. This could also chart the course for more remote monitoring of safety features, such as smoke alarms and water leaks.

Photo: James Bombales

As smart assistants like Alexa and Google Home become more popular, Dhillon hopes to see this feature integrated into new home developments, which would let residents easily complete tasks such as ordering groceries, calling elevators and even making dinner reservations through a virtual concierge.

“Technology provides convenience and for the prices being paid, new home buyers are looking to maximize this feature,” said Dhillon.

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