Top 5 smart home investments
Invest in these smart home device upgrades to make your job easier and attract more tenants in your rental property.
1. Smart Locks
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 definitely useful for short-term or airbnb rentals – basically anything with a lot of turnovers.
They range from roughly $50 to $500. Here is an example of a solid mid-range model.
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.
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.
If that’s not your cup of tea, here is a more basic model. It has a pin code and a regular key backup.
That way you can maintain the master key and give contractors and tenants the pin.
Obviously, it isn’t going to do any of the more advanced things the more expensive ones do, but it’s also 1/10 the price.
I’ve personally been to a lot of AirBnB rentals that use this exact same lock. Clearly, it’s very popular. Personally, I’d use it if I was local to the rentals so I’m not as worried about people coming and going.
If I’m managing it from a distance, I’d definitely get something higher quality.
Smart thermostats are exactly what you need as a remote landlord. Not only are they energy-efficient and also cost-effective, but you’ll reduce the chances of a tenant turning the heat way down and causing your pipes to freeze.
Honestly, it’s not even something I thought about until I had a tenant do exactly that – they left on vacation and turned the heat OFF.
Another time, I turned my heat down and went on vacation. When I got back, it took several hours for the heat to warm the house back up. It would have been nice if I could have turned it on a few hours before getting there to make it nice and warm for our arrival.
These go above and beyond a programmable thermostat because you have remote access to them. As a landlord operating a short-term rental, you can turn the heat way down or AC way up on days you know it will be vacant.
Also, if someone likes it a toasty 80 degrees, you can simply go in and drop it back down to something more reasonable, since you’re paying the bill anyhow.
3. Irrigation systems
If your rental property has a lawn, garden, or if you need to leave a drop on 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.
4. Moisture sensors
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, but a good and affordable option is the Samsung Smart Things leak detectors.
This will remotely detect leaks just about anywhere, and notify you immediately.
Additionally, you can connect additional hardware like this Dome Home Automation Water Shut-Off Valve which connects with your leak detector and shuts off the water immediately to prevent further damage.
If that doesn’t get you excited, then check out LeakSmart, which is just under $300 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.
Smart Home Devices For Airbnb and Vacation Rentals
You may not want or even need all of these smart devices for your home.
And that’s great!
But, if you really consider the cost/benefit of these items, especially for absentee landlords or people who won’t be at the property multiple times a week, it’s really a no-brainer.
Plus, your tenants will notice how much you are focused on the rental and they’ll take pride in it as well.
…well, maybe the won’t but at least they’ll know you are paying attention and maybe they won’t break as many of your things.
Eric Bowlin has 15 years of experience in the real estate industry and is a real estate investor, author, speaker, real estate agent, and coach. He focuses on multifamily, house flipping. and wholesaling and has owned over 470 units of multifamily.
Eric spends his time with his family, growing his businesses, diversifying his income, and teaching others how to achieve financial independence through real estate.
You may have seen Eric on Forbes, Bigger Pockets, Trulia, WiseBread, TheStreet, Inc, The Texan, Dallas Morning News, dozens of podcasts, and many others.