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This piece originally appeared in the March 2022 edition of MReport magazine, online now.

Renters have spoken. They want smart home technology in their homes. And those who want it are willing to pay for it.

As the pandemic forced many workers out of the office, having the convenience of smart home tech as they spend more time at home is a significant quality-of-life improvement. By offering smart home technology, property teams can meet evolving renter needs, retain current residents with better experiences, and provide the blend of technology and personal attention that modern renters desire.

Including smart home amenities can further optimize rental listings to help attract tech-savvy renters more effectively. In today’s competitive landscape, retaining residents and staying competitive in the market will be key to maintaining high occupancy.

To get a better sense of their needs, our Rent.com team surveyed over 1,500 renters for their thoughts about several common smart home devices, including smart lighting, outlets, appliances, keyless entry systems, automated package lockers, and voice assistant controls. We also asked renters how much extra they’d be willing to pay for the smart home technology they wanted every month. The results are intriguing.

Renters Want Smart Home Tech, but Many Don’t Have It Yet
The majority (82%) of respondents said they wanted a smart home device in their house, apartment, condo, or townhome. Of those surveyed, 35% expressed smart home tech was important or extremely important to them.

Despite strong interest, 49% of survey takers didn’t have a single smart home device in their residence. That’s a sizable demographic and a big opportunity for property owners and operators who are considering implementing this technology in their properties.

 

The Smart Home Technology Renters Want

Most of the smart home devices that renters really want, however, can’t be easily moved from place to place. They usually need to be installed by professionals or requested from landlords or property managers.

Of these hard-wired solutions, renters wanted a smart thermostat the most. Forty-four percent of apartment dwellers and 46% of respondents living in rental homes indicated that they wanted one.

Smart lights were the second most-coveted devices. Keyless entry systems came in third with both home renters and apartment dwellers.

Smart appliances, package lockers, and smart outlets were deemed less important and less desirable than the aforementioned offerings.

Renters also ranked voice systems as less important, but that could be because so many respondents already had one.

Most desired smart devices:

  • Thermostat
  • Smart lights
  • Keyless entry

Least desired smart devices:

  • Package lockers
  • Voice assistant
  • Smart outlets

A Little Tech Goes a Long Way
Just because renters want smart home devices doesn’t necessarily mean that they want all of them. Most of the renters surveyed weren’t interested in a total smart home system—a fact that may come as a relief to property teams worried about the time and expense involved in a complete smart home transformation.

Instead, most renters wanted just a few devices to make their lives easier or minimize their carbon footprint. The largest group (21%) only wanted one device, while 20% of renters said two devices would be sufficient. Just 16% wanted three.

How much will renters pay for the tech they want? Residents indicated that they want smart home technology in their apartments, town homes, condos, and houses. But they also shared that they’re willing to help cover the cost of these extra amenities.

Renters were asked to select a dollar amount between $0 and $100 that they would be willing to pay for smart home technology each month. This price would be in addition to their monthly rent. The average amount renters were willing to pay was $37.65.

Survey-takers who wanted more smart home tech stated the most they would pay was a maximum of $53 for five devices—and it didn’t significantly increase for six or seven devices.

Covering Smart Home Tech Costs
The great thing about adopting this tech is that the cost of installing the most sought-after smart amenities could likely be covered over the course of a typical 12-month lease. Take smart thermostats, the number-one choice of surveyed renters, for instance. Current estimates put both labor of installation and cost of the device at around $350 in total on the high end. With the acceptable rent increase of $37.65 provided by survey takers, this cost would be covered in 10 months with some extra cash in the bank when the lease expires.

Installing this would be a no-brainer for communities seeking a competitive edge and a better resident experience.

The bottom line? The majority of renters want smart home technology to shrink their carbon footprint and help their lives run more efficiently as they spend more time at home. Thankfully for renters and property management teams, smart home technology continues to become more affordable, available, and user-friendly as the industry evolves.

These factors will make it easier and more cost-effective for property owners to meet renter demand for smart home technology in the years to come.

About Author: Sean Barry

Sean Barry is COO of RentPath, a leading digital marketing solutions company that empowers millions nationwide to find apartments and houses for rent. Through its brands, RentPath continues to simplify the apartment search experience while driving quality advertiser leads that result in occupancies and a high return on investment. With powerful online and mobile solutions that provide prospective renters with the information and tools they need, RentPath connects consumers with a home that reflects their personal lifestyles. For more information visit rentpath.com.
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