Portland Smart Homes: Who has access?

portland smart home tech real estate

A recent home buyer was puzzled. She kept setting her thermostat to 70 degrees, but it would promptly readjust itself to 80. There was nothing wrong with either the device or the furnace — it turned out that the previous owner still had the app to control her thermostat installed on his phone. Meanwhile, he was wondering why his new home wouldn’t warm up!

Smart Home Tech Problems

The new era of smart homes creates potential scenarios between sellers and buyers that are slightly less humorous. From disappointed buyers who don’t get all the devices that the home was shown with, to sellers inadvertently giving access to personal information, the new technology comes with all kinds of opportunities for accidental or purposeful misuse.

Although the above scenario happened in San Francisco, it could have easily happened here in tech-friendly Portland. For homeowners across the Portland metro area, investing in some smart home devices might be tempting, even if they are planning on selling in the next few months.

Smart Home Tech Advantages

According to a 2018 CNET/Coldwell Banker study, smart home technology is helping sellers and their real estate agents move their listings faster. In that survey, over 80% of real estate agents reported that smart home technology streamlines a home sale. On the buyer’s end of the survey, another 80% stated that they would be more willing to buy a home with connected tech in place — smart locks, security systems, and the like.

But is it worth it? If smart home devices are already in place, sellers need to make sure they are calling them out as exclusions to the sale if they want to keep them. If the buyer inherits the tech, then the sellers must take steps to erase their digital trail, ensuring that these devices are no longer linked to their identity. On the buyers’ end, some kind of assurance should be provided that these steps have been taken, preventing the sellers from “logging in” to the home down the road. Here’s a checklist some real estate agents are using.

Just have a couple of smart home devices to convey? Most will have a “factory reset” function. We’ve outlined the steps for the most common devices below:

  • Smart thermostats. Sellers, before you do a factory reset, jot down your device settings if you plan on programming a new thermostat once you move. To keep from accidentally controlling the heat on the wrong house, log into the app that controls the device and remove it there.
  • Smart doorbells. Devices in this category, such as the Ring, don’t necessarily need to be factory reset since they don’t store personal settings or information. However, it’s still necessary for the seller to disassociate the device from their account using the app. This will also delete any saved recordings that have not been backed up.
  • Smart locks. These devices also have factory reset options, but to ensure that the previous users no longer have access, it’s best to call the manufacturer.

Talk With Your Real Estate Agent

Device manufacturers don’t have much of an incentive to make smart tech home devices friendly to secondhand users — they are most concerned with the people buying the product off the shelf. Be sure to talk with your seller’s or buyer’s real estate agent when you see these devices in a home to avoid any trouble in a home sale.

October 15, 2018

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. and a top 1% agent in the Portland Metro. Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales in the Portland Metro area. Call him direct: 503-714-1111.

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