Also, some important things to note about selling a smart home…
When you show a home you are advertising it. That means buyers are entitled to rely on what is demonstrated/shown to them, As making an offer on your home might mean they don’t make an offer on someone else’s.
Although the law is still catching up with all of this, there are some important Factors to remember. Also note that some of the laws may differ from state to state.
In general, when selling any home in the US, anything which is screwed into the wall is supposed to stay. For example, curtain rods are supposed to stay. Fancy door knobs. Accessibility devices like automatic door openers. All built-in features.
Whether or not window coverings and plug in appliances are supposed to stay does vary by jurisdiction.
One of the problems with smart devices, however, is that the warranty may not transfer from the old owner to the new owner. This can make things a little more complicated, and again, the law hasn’t caught up with this yet.
The FTC just issued new guidance in January 2018. They are recommending that When you prepare a house to show, you prepare a list with every smart device And whether it is staying or not staying. You should also have a separate list which indicates whether the warranty transfers or not. (You don’t have to show that one to the potential buyers unless they ask for it, Because they can do their own homework on that one once they know what the brand and model numbers are of the smart devices that are staying. But it still good practice to have it.)
The FTC is recommending that every device be factory reset and that the new owner set up their own new accounts, for privacy reasons. That makes sense, but it does mean you need to make it clear that that’s the condition that you are transferring the home in.
Real estate brokers are starting to adopt the FTC’s new guidance. Here’s a typical blog entry:
If you or the agent at anytime demonstrated specific automations like “when you come home the lights come on,” then you have advertised a feature that you need to transfer to the new owner, as it might have affected their buying decision. That’s when it gets complicated when a hub is required To support that feature.
Just remember to think of all your pre-contract conversations as advertisement for the thing you were selling, and it will help you understand why it matters. It’s not just that the person might have to go out and buy their own $99 hub. It’s that they might have chosen your house over a different one because they thought it was “move-in ready.” So you need to make clear that you are leaving behind the hardware, not the automations and that you are not providing tech-support. They need to set up their own rules.
So language like “for example, on our account we set up rules to turn on the lights when we came home“ would probably be a legitimate pre-sale conversation. Language like “and the lights will come on when you come home“ are promising a feature you might not be delivering. And that’s problematic.
The pre-2018 advice used to be to set up a new account with everything on it. But now with all the privacy concerns, the new advice is just to factory reset everything like it just came home from the store. That way the old owner doesn’t have any information about the accounts that the new owner will be using. So you want to have a statement at the bottom of your inventory list of the devices that are being left behind that says Something like “all devices Will be reset to factory defaults before transfer.”
Here’s a blog entry with links to some of the more common devices on how to get them reset for this kind of transfer:
The most important thing legally is that there is a written agreement as to what is staying and what is not. That’s where your original list would come in handy. Otherwise make sure you include one as part of the sales contract.
Talk to your agent about the appropriate verbiage For your location. If they don’t know, they should be able to find out.
If you have $1000 of nest protects that you don’t want to leave behind when you move, it’s better to remove those before the house is shown and replace them with less expensive smoke detectors, for example. The same thing with smart locks, smart thermostats, smart sprinkler systems: all the expensive stuff that a buyer might consider a “fixture“ because it’s not just a plug-in.
It’s not your job to demonstrate to potential buyers how smart a house can be. your job is to be truthful in the advertisements for the specific property that you are selling. If that means dumbing the house down before you start inviting people in to see it, then that’s what you do.