A booming opportunity for builders: Connecting consumers with technology

Knowing precisely which kinds of technology and requisite connectivity prospective home owners value most—both in their communities and within their homes—can give builders, remodelers and manufactures a sharp edge over the competition.
Understanding the technology home buyers actually value gives builders and manufacturers a competitive edge.

As Americans grow increasingly comfortable with technology, so does the demand for connectivity and tech tools in and around the home. But technology—and customer expectations—are always evolving. That’s why knowing precisely which kinds of technology prospective home buyers really want—and are ready to pay for—gives builders, remodelers and product manufacturers a sharp edge over the competition, especially with regard to rivals from the resale market.

Underscoring the value of a home’s “third space,” ZondaHome industry research expert and principal Mollie Carmichael revealed fascinating findings from their recent Producers Confidence Survey—a comprehensive questionnaire completed only by those actively shopping for a home in 2020 through 2021—in the “Outlook for Manufacturers: Redefining the Connected Home” webinar. Highlighting technology product and design features—with corresponding with cost estimates—for both the home and the community designated as “very important” or “important,” the data provide valuable insight into what consumers desire most, allowing builders and manufacturers to target operations more deliberately, focus costs more efficiently and even determine the demographic groups most amenable to their services or products.

Here are some valuable takeaways vis-à-vis community and home technology considerations:

Connecting with the Community

In the 21st century, people want to be connected to technological bells and whistles almost wherever they are, and that includes home and community connectivity.

A wide world of Wi-Fi

Buyers crave a connected community, as demonstrated by the 55% of consumers who want free Wi-Fi and streaming in all common areas such as parks and pools. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg:

  • 50% desire community-specific Smart apps.
  • 49% seek virtual access to amenities like the pool, lights, clubs and more.
  • 50% like having a remote guard shack and 45% want video views of common areas.
  • 38% would like 24/7 access to telehealth services, which can help home owners age in place.
  • An impressive 56% find local grab-and-go Wi-Fi cafés appealing, and 21% would pay $10 more each month for access to a community IT or tech desk.
  • 39% want an Amazon package locker to handle those incoming parcels, but 37% prefer built-in drop zones—a great way for builders to distinguish themselves from resale offerings.

Related: Art and data science—How builders make technology work for them

Technology in the Home

Whether constructing an all-new house or remodeling something older, considering how the residents plan to incorporate tech into their lifestyles is crucial, as technology’s tentacles have reached into almost every aspect (and room) of the modern home.

Home offices

The global pandemic forced many employers and employees to adopt ad-hoc work-from-home strategies, but remote work options are likely to continue, necessitating a functional space:

  • 61% of respondents would pay another $10,000 for a small, separate office with a door.
  • 49% say a large laundry room-like space would suffice.
  • 19% wanted two office or more.
  • Only 15% like the idea of an office connected to common spaces.

Smart home health and environmental impacts

As Zonda says, “A Smart home is a safe home,” and there have never been more ways for technology to provide cleaner, healthier and greener lifestyles. In fact, general health and wellness concerns are up 18% from the same time last year, so consider these findings:

  • 85% would pay $7,500 for air conditioning, and 80% would lay out another $800 for a controlled clean air unit.
  • 70% will pay $250 for ceiling fans in primary living spaces, and another 68% would double the expense to install fans in secondary rooms as well.
  • 68% want whole-home water filtration for $1,200.
  • 38% would spend $700 to embrace circadian lighting, a relatively new phenomenon.

The virtual (and greener) life

Given how much we’ve come to rely on technology, connectivity is key when one considers how much we’ve come to rely on technology, and since tech can be incorporated into almost everything (so don’t forget to use Wi-Fi-ready outlets everywhere), remodelers and builders can impress prospective buyers by including some of these features:

  • 72% want a virtual video doorbell, and 51% find remote door access appealing.
  • 63% would pay $800 for a virtual monitoring camera.
  • 26% will spend $600 for virtual appliances, but a whopping 68% crave Smart learning apps (energy, water, etc.), marking a 20% increase from last year.
  • While 36% thing remote window shades are worth an extra $5,000, 43% would spend $25,000 for solar panels. Of course, region plays a key role in the popularity of both, but solar panels are now becoming architecturally appealing solar shingles. In fact, 33% would pay between $20,000 and $30,000 for solar roof tiles, while 7% would prefer to lease them.
  • Tesla’s home battery is ideal for those off-the-grid homes, but it’s equally appealing to homeowners of all kinds, as 41% would invest $7,500 to own one.
  • 49% want electric car charging stations, a 13% year-over-year increase.

Getting greener

Since 73% of respondents believe going green is about monthly savings and another 62% feel green living is better for the environment, net-zero-ready homes have never been more popular—31% would pay $30,000 for such a home, up 12% from last year. Environmentally friendly insulation is also trending, with 51% willing to spend $7,500 for foam and 41% would spend the same on blown insulation.

Technology is constantly evolving, but the builders and manufacturers who stay abreast of these trends will be better positioned to meet changing home buyer’s needs—and that means more customers and projects.

Amy Guettler

Amy Guettler is a freelance writing, editing, marketing and communications professional. An expert in content development and management, Amy can be reached at [email protected].

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