August 27, 2018

I've always loved technology. Computer science was actually my first major in college, before I jumped ship and found my way over to the Economics department.

But, my love of technology never went away.

While there are a lot of positive and negative aspects to "smart" devices in your home or rental property, there are a lot of reasons to have them.

Especially for rental property, vacation rentals, etc.

Whether you live in Chicago — a city where the rent prices rank on the top-10 most expensive list — or Fargo, North Dakota where you can find an apartment for less than $500, you want to find ways to add value to your rental properties, protect the occupants, and keep your investment safe.

As you know, simply adding things to your property does not guarantee respective value increases. 

Think of your favorite client and his flawed formula for estimating a property’s selling price. 

He would keep track of every dollar he put into a property, added that to his purchase price, and decided that he wasn’t selling the property unless he “got all of his money out.” Needless to say, his properties stayed on the market for a long time.

That being understood, how can you be sure to add value to your rental property? One place to start is with smart technology.

By keeping your costs low and rents high, you'll inevitably add value and earn more money.

Here are our favorite smart-home technologies for your rental property!

Adding a Smart Thermostat to Your Rental

Opening an August electric bill in McAllen, TX can be a shocker, especially after this summer’s endless 100 plus degree days. Also, an electric bill in Central Massachusetts is an eye opener.

The tenants that are responsible for utility bills would love to have their unit outfitted with a smart thermostat that would not only help them control their HVAC system from their phones but would record and anticipate their temperature needs.

One cooling degree consistently saved can in turn save three percent on a utility bill. Being able to offer a way to save on cooling costs can bring higher rents and that enhances property value.

One thing I recently bought for my own home is the Nest. I must say that I really love it! It has definitely cut down on my electric bill this summer here in North Texas, and I can see it's value for rentals.

A great use could be for any property that has one central heating/cooling system. This is common in older buildings especially.

If you have one central heating system, even if there are multiple zones, consider installing these thermostats.

You can monitor it electronically, set overrides, and control it from an app on your phone.

So, no more allowing tenants to bump the heat up to 90 degrees!

Smart Lights in Your Rental

We are again talking energy here, as LEDs have taken the lead for efficiency, and are quickly coming down in cost.

Smart apps coupled with LEDs save significant energy dollars, contribute to sustainability and make millennial renters very happy. LEDs are now made to fit in many fixtures, and they can now even be dimmed if the proper switches are purchased.

There are also smart systems that work with the outside environment and accordingly adjust interior lighting. Smart lights and apps simply add value for obvious reasons.

Smart Locks for Your Rental Property

Imagine installing a smart doorbell along with a camera security system. A would-be burglar came to your door and you were alerted to motion at his front door by the app.

Then, you were able to talk to the intruder through the front door lock/doorbell system and scare him away.

Parents of college age tenants in their first apartment sleep better at night if they know these systems are in place, and those looking to purchase rental properties will pay more for locations with smart security systems already installed.

Not only can you get an extra layer of security for your property, but you can get an extra layer of convenience. Some are as advanced as having biometric scans, bluetooth connectivity, and more. The fact is, they cannot physically be lockpicked (though, they are open to more advanced hacking capabilities).

Additionally, they can often be monitored and managed from anywhere using your smartphone app.

There are a number of types of smart locks to choose from and all of them are good. The best part is you won’t have to deal with physical keys or meeting with contractors at 7am to grant them entry.

Smart Locks are Good For Short Term Rentals Too

Smart locks are definitely useful for short-term or airbnb rentals – basically anything with a lot of turnovers.

A great example of an awesome smartlock is this one. You have an App that allows you to set codes so someone can access it and it tracks entries. If you give everyone a unique code, you can track who comes and goes and when, thus avoiding problems in the future.

This is really perfect for an AirBnB or vacation rental because you can give a unique access code to every new tenant and erase them when they leave. That way they can’t give away the code to everyone in the area and allow strangers to constantly come and go.

If you’re operating a nice single family rental, beach rental or beach condo, or other high-end and short-term rental, you might want something a bit more sophisticated.

High End Smart Lock

If that’s the case, then you need something like this Toledo smart lock with a built-in camera, keyless access from your smartphone, touchpad, remote entry, or touchpad entry.

Think about this, you get a call from a contractor who is at your house and needs access. You pull up your app and look at the video feed. Sure enough, he’s there. So you allow access.

A few hours later you check and see he left the door unlocked when he left. You simply lock it and go about your day.

This beast literally does it all. Honestly, I’m going to be installing this one in my next AirBnB rental.

These higher-end locks are more secure than those that just require proximity or a fingerprint and they are a bit more difficult to trick.

They’ll allow you to unlock or lock from a distance as well, so you won’t have to be onsite for every maintenance issue.

I’ve personally been to a lot of AirBnB rentals that use smart locks so they are clearly very popular. 

Smart Irrigation Systems

If your rental property has a lawn, garden, or if you need to leave a drip line for the foundation, you might want a smart irrigation system.

Good smart irrigation systems will integrate weather forecasts as well as sensors to manage the watering schedule. Have you ever seen an irrigation system running during the rain and thought “what a waste?”

This is the solution.

They are very reasonably priced as well and cheap once you consider the water savings.

Moisture Sensors and Smart Water Shutoffs 

I’ve had my share of water leaks, and you will too. It’s just part of the business. 

Honestly, it’s the one thing that keeps me up at night, especially in the winter.

But, I recently discovered there is something known as a smart leak detector. These leak detectors can tell when there is excess moisture in an area and notify you immediately.

There are a lot of options out there which range from about $30 to $600.

This one below is really cool because it actually shuts off your water line to prevent damage. You will need to integrate it with other sensors though.

Dome Home Automation Water Shut-Off Valve - for Pipes up to 1 1/2", White (DMWV1)
Click here for more information about Dome Automation Water Shut Off

Just imagine, water heater leaks, moisture is detected, this handy thing shuts it down. Sure, there is a little water damage but you've avoided a major loss!

I've had so many water leaks and I've lost so much to water bills. So, finding a way to protect my properties is a must!

If that doesn’t get you excited, then check out LeakSmart, which is over $400 but is an all in one solution, so you don’t have to worry about messing around and configuring different brands and getting them to work together.

Imagine, a pipe bursts, a sump pump fails, or a toilet floods. Your sensor detects it within a minute or two and sends a signal to your monitoring base, or hub. Once it’s received, you receive an email or other alert letting you know there is a leak.

Simultaneously, it has shut down the water within a few seconds of being notified and prevented a catastrophic $20,000 loss.

You don’t have to tell me twice. I’m sold.

Wrapping Up

Again, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly the amount that any improvement will add to your property since, as you know, there are many factors that affect price.

But, anything that reduces costs, increases rents, and improves your operating efficiency will ultimately add dollars to your bottom line. More dollars means more value to the next investor.

Either way, you can benefit from adding value to your real estate through the use of smart tech! Just give it a try.

Do you currently use any smart devices in your home or rental property? Comment below!

About the author 

Eric Bowlin

Eric is an investor that achieved financial independence at the age of 30. He started in 2009 with the purchase of his first triplex and now owns over 470 rental units. He spends his time with his family, growing his businesses, diversifying his income, and teaching others how to achieve financial independence through real estate. Eric has been seen on Forbes, Trulia, WiseBread, TheStreet, Yahoo Finance and other financial publications. You can contact Eric by emailing him at [email protected] or with this contact form

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