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Inside the Homebuilder’s Tech Playbook

Interpret research reveals homebuilders’ views on smart home technology.

Today’s housing game plays on a constantly changing field where technology provides an increasingly influential strategy for how builders win the most and best buyers. After offering entertainment and smart home technologies as homebuyer upgrades for years, a few of the biggest builders like DR Horton and Lennar began standardizing technology packages about three years ago. Today, the top ten builders have set a pace for standardization that the rest of the industry is working to catch up with.

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From smart thermostats, lighting, and access control to smart appliances, kitchens, and baths, builders are differentiating their homes with technology-enabled features that fulfill homebuyers’ desires for more convenience, comfort, security, and savings. Market research firm Interpret finds that 41 percent of U.S. adults desire smart home technology in their next home, and an even greater percentage expect tech in a newly constructed home.

Brad Russell, vice president at Interpret
Brad Russell, vice president at Interpret

According to Brad Russell, vice president at Interpret, “Buying a home with standardized technology is particularly attractive to consumers because not only do they get the convenience of pre-installed tech that avoids having to pull out basic technology, but the costs of the features are rolled into the mortgage.” Interpret also finds that half of smart home device owners plan to bring devices they currently own to their new home, which has implications for how these BYOD products are supported in the new home.

Builders have found that investing in smart technology complements their historic commitments to marketing messages around energy efficiency. Along with HVAC SEER ratings, energy-efficient appliances, and insulation, builders tout smart products from lighting to blinds and fans for creating even more energy efficiency and savings. On this side of the pandemic, other builders such as Taylor Morrison are charting a new course with an emphasis on healthy homes, leveraging smart technologies to elevate indoor air quality, water quality, touch-free controls, and bacteria-resistant surfaces. Regardless of the use cases emphasized, builders have implemented marketing and branding programs that put smart home center stage to differentiate properties from competitors.

Interpret Homebuilder Data

System integrators have long played a critical role in the value chain of specifying, vetting, purchasing, installing, and supporting the smart home experience for builders and homebuyers alike. However, that value chain has become increasingly complex and varied, as non-traditional players have entered the channel, including tech giants, retailers, internet service providers, and utilities. Integrators need to understand the business strategy driving investment in tech, the device and system strategy, and the partner strategy and procurement process, which can be unique to each builder. Custom integrations with preferred brands may be required of integrators, as well as adaptions to the building process. Increasingly, builders are also asking for more in terms of vendor support and training for the builder’s sales and marketing teams.

Related: Talking to the Trades

To help builders and their technology partners be more successful, Interpret has partnered with AE Ventures, hosts of the annual TecHome Builder Summit event series. They have teamed up to conduct fresh builder market research that provides a first-of-its-kind look inside the homebuilder’s tech playbook. The research report, Inside the Builder’s Tech Playbook 2022, was released at TecHome Builder Fall Summit in October. The research is co-sponsored by General Electric Appliances and Nice/Nortek Control, leaders in solutions for the homebuilder channel.

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