Study finds renters value smart home tech above traditional amenities

Never mind your pools, your hot tubs, the exercise room or a barbecue grill. A new study out by property management company Entrata shows the vast majority of the country’s estimated 40 million plus renters value new and evolving smart home amenities over traditional benefits offered to apartment dwellers.

The company surveyed more than 1,000 residents and reached some surprising conclusions as to the adoption of smart home tech by renters. The survey revealed that the most important smart home services to renters are security cameras, including doorbell cameras and ceiling-mounted surveillance cameras, keyless entry with special codes for guests, smart thermostats, and a security system. The other strong desire that emerged from the study found that one of residents’ top amenities would be an electronic payment system, rendering the need to write the monthly rent check irrelevant.

Interestingly, the survey found that residents aren’t bound by smart home brand loyalty. Unlike more established devices like cellphones or laptops, smart home brands haven’t yet established themselves as the gold standard in the rental market. 33 percent of respondents registered “no preference” when it comes to smart home devices; 16 percent are happy with Google Home, 12 percent to Amazon Echo, and just 11 percent to Apple’s troubled new HomePod.

“It’s really about the different technologies and the platform all being able to talk to each other,” said Alan Missen of property management company FirstService Residential recently of the branding challenges. “One of the challenges in the industry is that there are not a lot of standards. New technology comes out and there’s seven ways of doing it.”

“While pools and other creative community features have often been seen as the draw for prospective residents, the survey shows that what residents really value upon move-in, and are willing to pay for, are technology add-ons and amenities.” said Chase Harrington, president and chief operating officer of Entrata. “Shifting the focus of development, marketing, and training efforts to these technologies is going to be key for apartments as residents begin to demand living in a smart, connected environment.”

According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, 35 percent of the U.S. population of 112 million individuals rent versus buying a home. Historically, these people tend to live in urban areas and the demographics trend younger in age, making them the sweet spot for marketing smart home tech.

The top smart home features residents said they would pay a premium for include a basic technology package including high-speed Internet, online rent payments, secure access, smart home features such as keyless entry, and an automated maintenance request system. More than half of residents (57 percent) indicated they are willing to increase their rent payment by at least $20 per month to get the high-tech apartment they desire, and about one in four were willing to chip more than $30 per month.

The report comes as Entrata continues rolling out a new smart home service called Entratamation that serves as a central hub for smart home devices. The company already has a captive market with approximately 3.5 million apartment units in over 20,000 complexes on board.

Competing services include Vivint’s Smart Properties, which lets property managers design their own smart home systems, and Castle Lanterra Properties’ System Galaxy, which lets property managers remotely limit access to buildings and amenities, 24/7. PointCentral, a subsidiary of Alarm.com, also provides residential property managers with a smart home platform help increase property awareness and reduce energy costs.

Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Gaming

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Smart Home

Ring Alarm vs. Nest Secure: Which one is right for you?

Thanks to the advance of technology, it's become really easy nowadays to secure your home and protect it from thieves, intruders, and unwanted guests. Which one of these two top contenders is right for you?
Smart Home

Cops go after porch pirates with dummy Amazon boxes and GPS trackers

Amazon is helping police in Jersey City to catch thieves who steal delivered packages from outside people's homes. Within just minutes of the operation's launch this week, cops nabbed their first porch pirate.
Smart Home

A couple’s recalled dishwasher caught on fire — and now they’re warning others

A Wisconsin couple has been using the dishwasher in their house for a year, unaware that it was recalled in 2009. Then the appliance caught fire. Now they are warning others to check appliances for risks when buying or renting a home.
Smart Home

Amazon sent me a Christmas tree. Did it leave me pining for more?

Is driving to a Christmas tree lot or farm to get some fresh pine a daunting task that you dread every year? Good news: Amazon is now selling real Christmas trees with free shipping. We decided to order one to see how it went.
Smart Home

Amazon has some killer deals on vacuums through the holidays

Whether you're buying for someone else or for yourself, Amazon has some great deals on vacuums running through the holidays. Score them while you can and keep your home cleaner than ever.
Smart Home

Got an Emerson thermostat? 135,000 of them are being recalled due to fire risk

Most recalls are relatively benign but if you own an Emerson-branded thermostat, we encourage you to check your model number because the company has alerted consumers to the potential of the device starting a fire.
Deals

You don't want to sleep on these red-hot bedding deals

We've rounded up some of the best discounts and sales happening right now, so you can buy yourself (or your loved ones) new bedding without breaking your budget. Trust us when we say these are deals worth losing sleep over.
Deals

Best deals for smart home plugs that control your lights and appliances

Smart hubs and speakers play central communication and management roles in your home, but smart plugs let you add lights and appliances to your system. Any smart plug you buy must support one feature or anything you plug in stays dumb.
Mobile

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.
Smart Home

Knock, knock. Who's there? With a video doorbell, you'll never have to guess

When it comes to knowing who's at your door before you actually open it, there's nothing better than a video doorbell. Plus, you can "answer" the door even if you're not home. Here are some of our favorites.
Smart Home

The best air fryers deliver fried food with a fraction of the calories

What is this magical mechanism? It's an air fryer, and when used correctly, it can mimic the effects of frying while using just a little bit of oil. You still get that crispy, golden exterior and the fluffy center.