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"With the growth of reliance on technology, buyers are prepared to pay more for homes that save time and money."

The number of smart homes in South Africa is predicted to almost triple over the next five years as more homeowners look to incorporate the latest technologies into their home life. Market revenue is also expected to drastically increase by 2022.

A recent study by international statistics portal Statista reveals that 3.6% of the country’s residential property market is currently penetrated by smart home technologies. In five years’ time, this figure will climb to 9.8%.

The research also shows revenue in South Africa’s smart home market currently amounts to $202 million (about R2.4 billion), but is expected to show annual growth rates of 37.1% between 2018 and 2022.

This will take the market’s revenue to $714m. By comparison, smart home revenue in the US, which leads the global figures, is $18.877bn. Statistsa reveals the average technology spend per smart home in South Africa is just over R1900, with smart appliances accounting for the biggest portion of technological capabilities. 

This is followed by control and connectivity and security technologies. Home entertainment technology use is in fourth position. Energy management and comfort and lighting are the technologies least used in the country’s smart homes. Although all segments will drastically increase over the next five years, the proportions are predicted to remain more or less as they currently are, the data shows.

With the growth of reliance on technology, buyers are prepared to pay more for homes that save time and money, says bond originator ooba’s chief executive, Rhys Dyer. Cutting the costs of utility bills and enhancing security are the biggest incentives for the increased uptake in smart home technology. Fibre-optic cable, solar panels, smart security alarms, thermostats and sensor technology are the top tech capabilities they should look for, he says.

“In today’s homes it’s possible to control a host of systems, fixtures, fittings and appliances through an app. You can control your bed temperature, coffee machine, shower and kettle without going near them.”

In addition to almost everything becoming app-based, online real estate agency PropertyFox recently predicted that by 2025, smart home assistants will read people news, answer questions, take phone calls, control lights, open curtains and update shopping lists.

Chief executive Crispin Inglis says it is also possible helipads will be purpose-built on rooftops for air transport or drone landings. Driven by the rising demand for higher bandwidth and faster speed connections, fibre-optic transmission is becoming more common in modern homes, but Dyer advises prospective buyers to enquire about their suburb’s status with such technology. 

Solar panels, although a “hefty upfront investment”, are also a bonus for buyers. “If panels are new technology, show significant savings and are aesthetically acceptable, they may boost the value of a property.”

He warns buyers to be wary of being roped into contracts for panels that come with house sales. With safety top of mind for South African home buyers, a smart security system can also add to the attraction of a potential home. “These systems allow homeowners to arm, disarm, configure and control their system from their smartphone or tablet using an app.

They receive email alerts, push notifications or a text when the alarm is triggered,” Dyer says. He says smart home alarm kits can be extended to include power switches to remotely turn home appliances on or off, or smart locks to remotely gain access to the property. Sensor technologies can also significantly protect a home and its occupants, he says, because they include dire and carbon monoxide detectors, leak and moisture sensors, and wi-fi-connected smart garage doors.

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