Real Estate

How smart is your home?

The Nest learning thermostat customizes its actions to your preferences. Photo:Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine

If there’s one term I keep hearing repeatedly from consumers, it’s “smart house.” People in the market for a home are now adding smart features to their house-shopping wish lists, and for good reason. They like the efficiency, convenience, and money savings that these smart features now offer. According to a joint survey this year by Coldwell Banker and CNET of approximately 4,000 Americans, 28 percent of the survey respondents said they own at least one smart-home feature, and most millennials said they plan to adopt smart-home technology in their homes. The same survey revealed that 81 percent are more likely to buy a home with smart products already installed. Even remodeled homes are featuring more smart features to attract these tech-savvy buyers.

If you are not familiar with smart-home features, they typically include items to help you remotely control things in your home, such as temperature and lighting. However, as technology grows, many more smart features are becoming available. Soon, our homes might be smarter than we are.

Here are a few of my favorite new smart devices:

LG HomeChat

This system gives you the ability to send text messages to your washer or refrigerator. It has a wide-angle camera that takes a photo each time the refrigerator door is opened, so you can pull up the image from your mobile device to see what you might need on your shopping list. It will also keep track of expiration dates and even suggest meal options based on what is in your refrigerator.

Caséta wireless lighting system

Use this app to adjust your lighting and temperature from your phone. No new wiring is required. The system learns what temperatures you like and automatically adjusts accordingly.

Google Nest

Set your home’s temperatures from your phone with this system, which learns what temperatures you like and automatically adjusts accordingly.

Lucis Nubryte

This wall-touch panel connects to the cloud for controlling your lighting and security. A built-in camera sensor automatically turns on lights when you enter a room, or you can control when lights come on with your smart phone. It also features an integrated security system that can flash lights when an intruder comes in and send you an alert to your phone.

Kwikset keyless entry

For years I have said, “keys are the bane of my existence” when it comes to listings, and I have long wished for a system that would allow entry with the touch of a button. My wish has been granted: The Kwikset keyless entry with a deadbolt opens with the touch of a finger. Owners can assign virtual keys permanently or temporarily. Where was this when my then-teenagers lost their house keys? This Bluetooth-enabled smart lock also works with the Nest thermostat to adjust the home temperature.

Chamberlain MyQ Garage

No more wondering, Did I forget to close the garage door? With this mobile app, you can be sure it is closed — or opened from anywhere. The company plans to add geofencing capabilities that will sense when you are near and open the door for you and close it when it senses you are safely parked.


Lowe’s home-management system offers the ability to gain greater control over household devices from one central hub. The secure feature allows you to receive texts or calls when motion sensors are triggered. It includes a smart thermostat, lighting control, and smart plugs to control items such as lamps.

Icontrol Piper

This web-linked security camera can emit an ear-splitting noise to ward off intruders, and call, e-mail, or text you if it detects any movement, loud noises or changes in temperature.


Before leaks get too serious or costly, this system can detect them. Simply attach the wireless sensors around water-prone areas such as sinks and toilets. If a drop of water falls, an alert will immediately be sent to your smart phone.

I plan to install several smart options in my home; I like the idea of convenience and control from wherever I might be. You may want to consider adding some smart-home features to your home — not only to increase value, but also to add convenience to your everyday home enjoyment.

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Stephanie Saunders Ahlberg has been a real estate agent for over 30 years and joined Hill & Co. in 1983, where she has consistently been among the top 10 salespeople. She can be reached at