Questions regarding moving to a new home

We are thinking about moving to a new home, and I have some questions regarding our smart home setup during showings and when we move.

Most of the setup I plan to take with. SmartThings Hub, lights, buttons, sensors, etc. that are not hard wired into anything (I tried installing some smart switches but there are too many wires in the boxes and I could not get any to fit and still work) will definitely go with. However, I do not necessary want to switch out all of my smart bulbs for regular while going through this process, but want to make certain that potential buyers can turn on the lights when touring our home. Because my wife was a bit reluctant about using an app or talking to the Google speakers to work the lights, I made a point that each room that has smart light bulbs also has at least one light fixture that still works by the switch (except the deck actually, I just realized all of those are now smart bulbs), but I’ve placed covers over other switches to make sure they stay in the “on” position for smart bulbs. What have others here done with your SmartThings setup when showing your home to potential buyers? Is it as simple as explaining to your realtor that’s why some of the switches are covered or do you maybe provide instructions on how to turn them on?

On a related note, but not SmartThings specific, I also have a couple things hard wired into the house; my Ecobee thermostat and Nest Hello doorbell/camera. I figure that some people may like those things to remain, and they may not even be compatible with the wiring in the home we ultimately move to (we are looking at homes that were built in the 20s/30s or earlier). I’m leaning toward leaving them and then determining what will and will not work in the new home and simply buy new. But, if I do that, are there any potential security issues with leaving the doorbell/camera and/or thermostat behind? Will doing a factory reset and removing those devices from my account be enough to protect both us and the folks that buy our house?

I don’t think you need to instruct or explain very much. Just say “we are using a lot of smart devices but don’t worry, all the original switches are still here and will work normally if you move in”

We sold and moved in 2017.

I completely removed all smart tech from the house and we went back to the “stone age” while it was for sale. Smart tech would not have helped sell our home. I even put the old “dumb” thermostat back in.

FWIW, In my opinion, not being able to physically turn on lights is going to be a detriment. You want your house to be as bright and inviting as possible.

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This is actually a much bigger deal than you may think, depending on where you live.

In many jurisdictions, if you show smart home features in the home you legally have to leave them behind when you leave. Otherwise it becomes a form of false advertising.

Consequently, current advice in most parts of the US is that you remove anything from your home automation system that you intend to take with you before you show the house. (The exception is home theatre equipment that operates the TV itself.)

At the very least you should turn off all automations before a showing, so that the house looks like a dumb house again.

One specific example is that if you have motion sensor triggered lights set up, those need to stay. They are considered a feature of the house, not removeable items.

But talk to your realtor. They should know what’s required both by law and for a quick sale in your area. :sunglasses:

(BTW, I’m more familiar with this issue than more because it’s affected the wheelchair user community for years. Friends of mine sold their home 4 years ago and were very surprised to find that the buyers insisted the automatic door openers remain—and that the law backed them up. :disappointed_relieved:)

For previous discussions on selling your home a after installing smart features, go to the quick browse lists in the community-created wiki, look down near the bottom of that page for the “project report” section, then look for the list on selling a smart home.

https://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=How_to_Quick_Browse_the_Community-Created_SmartApps_Forum_Section

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Well who is showing the buyers around? I have moved house a few times and if I am showing them around I have the whole house lit to look its best before they arrive. I don’t think a home viewer has ever felt the need to touch a light switch. If you are using an agent then instruct the agent on how to operate the lights. Sometimes a house takes more than a year to sell, I wouldn’t want to be without all my conveniences for all that time. As for rules about what you have to leave in the UK you can leave or take what you like as long as it is itemised and clear before contracts are exchanged

In the US, whatever way the lights are operated when the house is shown is the way they have to operate after the house is sold. It can’t be something that only works for you.

Walking a buyer through a house is an advertisement of an item for sale. So the buyers have to see what they will actually be making an offer on. It’s just the way the law works.

They understand that personal items, such as furniture and clothing, will be removed. But light switches, the thermostat, light fixtures, even curtain rods: anything which is screwed into the walls, legally has to be left behind In most places in the US.

Smart bulbs represent a more complicated question, but in general rulings have been in favor of the buyers if the features were demonstrated during the showing.

Yeah but the OP did say they are all accessories, bulbs etc, not fixtures and fittings. They’re more like curtains than curtain rods, if you see what I mean

As for this, many people with physical challenges, including just arthritis, will indeed test the physical operation of light switches and faucet handles and interior door handles before buying a home, and the way they operate can influence their decision to make an offer or not. They are entitled to consider whether a place will be “move-in ready” or will require modifications at the time they make their offer.

The law isn’t based on what’s most probable, but also protects those of us in smaller groups.

Light switches, like most other items that screw into the walls, are considered a “feature of the home” in most places in the US. “Features” that are present at the showing must remain after the sale. (You aren’t allowed to dig up the rose bushes and take them with you, either. :wink: :rose: )

As far as I know, smart bulbs are still a gray area in the law. If the house is operating like a dumb house when it is shown, it shouldn’t be an issue, but there are definitely some buyers who will want to see and test the switches.

The OP also mentioned a thermostat and a video doorbell, and those are in the “curtain rod” category. :sunglasses:.

I was not really considering any legal requirements that something should remain, so thanks for pointing that out to me. I’ll talk to our agent about it more.

Yes I did mention the doorbell and thermostat, which I figure would be best left as I’m worried wiring in whatever new house we move into won’t be compatible anyway. My main concern about those is security issues when leaving them. I don’t want them messing up anything with my account, and I’m sure they don’t want me being able to be able to mess with them after we’re out. Not mentioned in my original post is the Nest Yale lock on the front door that I do plan to take. So I’m guessing I’d need to replace that with the old deadbolt before showing the house, then?

As far as lighting, most of the smart bulbs are in table lamps or floor lamps and not in hard wired fixtures. For the ones that are in fixtures, the wired switches are all dumb; I just have the clear plastic covers over the switches so my wife or kids don’t accidentally turn them off. I could remove the covers for showings and when someone flips the switch, the smart bulbs will still turn on to their default setting and off again via the switch, essentially turning them into dumb bulbs temporarily.

I have two lightify buttons that fit over the top of the standard dumb light switch which is easy to remove so the dumb switch will work. The rest of the buttons are the newer SmartThings buttons that are just magnetically stuck to a metal surface or sitting loose on a table (I’m actually missing one I suspect the cat knocked behind something). All of the lights tied to those buttons are in table lamps or floor lamps, not fixed fixtures.

Water leak sensors aren’t even visible except the one by the sump in the basement, and I can simply pick that up. I do have multi-use sensors on two doors and one on the overhead garage door that would not be as easy to simply remover and replace when showing the house.

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I sold my flat a few years ago. I’ve had a 1st gen Nest thermostat and a Nest Smoke detector installed about 5-6 years ago. When I sold, that was one of the selling feature just to make it more attractive for the buyer.
And I removed the device from my account and reseted it before moving out. That was it.
My Nest account is still working. No issues there. And never had any complaints about it.

Both the thermostat and the doorbell works well with a Google Home Hub. You might want to ask the possible buyers, are they a Google Home or Amazon Alexa people. :wink:

Update: I would add the Nest Yale lock to the list of features together with the doorbell and the thermostat. If you throw a 100 bucks more in, buy a new Home Hub to display on the screen the doorbell’s view and the temperature. Depends on the buyer, you can negotiate the price higher with those features. Definitely use it as a selling point!

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I live in the US and sold most recently in July 2016. I discussed this with my realtor about - specifically the hard-wired switches, power outlets and visible sensors. The law in this area (very upstate NY) specifically says that anything attached to the house needs to stay UNLESS you specifically state item by item what things are not included in the sale of the house. I also asked if doing that would be detrimental to selling the house. She said, it might or might not. In the end, we:

  • listed all items I was planning on taking with me (i.e., not included in the sale)
  • my commitment to replace everything that I would take with me with it’s original (switches outlets) - and that the replacements - and any repairs required due to my removal efforts would be part of the closing inspection
  • Even with the above, selling the home automation items with the house remained negotiable

We listed the house and had three, well above list-price offers during the first day (we took the best one). Each of the potential buyers was appraised of the above details as they toured the home and each was very happy to have everything removed and replaced with the original switch, outlet etc.

Now, here’s my personal opinion: The above discussion concentrates on legalities and fairness. I’m good with that. However, I believe that Home Automation ends up being a series of personal choices based on my imagination, skills and their application to my desires, sechedules, likes and dislikes. Those will never match anyone else. Leaving my ‘tailored-for-me’ system for the next buyer would be confusing and a big pain for them. I can’t imagine why that would be desirable. Now security systems and camera systems would certainly be easily transferred to a new buyer. Home-automation, no.

Now, if the above makes someone nervous (‘my’ rules might confuse some buyers I guess), you can take everything out before listing the house. But, as has been said, listing/selling can take a while and being without automation for extended periods of time might not be very desirable. I chose not to do that - and it worked out fine.

Just MHO. YMMV :smiley:

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We haven’t sold yet, but received similar advice; but, builders in our neighborhood are adding smart “stuff” to homes right now.

In fact, my builder and another have visited my home several times on devices and setup. Their listing agent has also stopped over and has told me she’s seeing smart stuff more and more, and her clients are actually looking for it. Her advice to me was to keep it, make it simple, supportable, and don’t do anything people need to “code” or learn; hence my push to no custom DTH’s, no webcore or action tiles, just plain old out of the box ST capabilities and very reliable devices. Then again, she’s chomping at the bit to sell my home too :wink:

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I must be the exception. :face_with_monocle: I tested everything in every house I was seriously considering. I wanted to know what worked, what didn’t. If their were issues with the light switches, receepticles, shower and faucets, etc. I want to know what I’m walking into and what I can get current owners to fix or give credit for.

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Um, a good home inspector will do that for you. “Good” being the operative word here.

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A good home inspector will look for safety and standard function. But they won’t be able to tell someone with limited use of their hands whether the bathroom faucets will be usable for them. You can hire an occupational therapist to go through the house and check for usability for a specific person, but a lot of people prefer to do that themselves. :sunglasses:

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I think I would prefer our new home to not have smart stuff already in it for that reason. I’d want to set it up myself. The one we want (yeah, we’ve already found one we want and are working our butts off trying to get ours ready to list before it sells) has security cameras that are staying. Part of me likes that, part of me is thinking, “what brand are they, what system is it, will it work with my stuff, can I use the existing wiring to replace them with cameras I want?” Now if we can just get the kids to help purge all of the excess stuff in our house to make it more presentable…

And I know the switches and outlets all work. We have had a mix of white and cream throughout our house when we bought it. Since we decided to try and do this, I’ve been going through the house replacing all of the cream colored ones with new white ones, as well as telephone and cable jacks.

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And several months later we are actually doing it. Assuming nothing goes south at the last minute, the latest we move in to the new house is the end of the month. In preparing our house for listing, I did the following (I also talked with our agent about this who had a little bit of input). We decided to leave the Ecobee Thermostat and the Nest Hello doorbell. I removed all smart lights that were in permanent fixtures, I removed the covers I had over the switches for those smart lights, I removed the two Osram buttons that fit over switches I had, removed the door sensors and motion sensors, replaced the battery operated Nest Protects with regular battery operated smoke alarms, and replaced the smart locks with new regular locks. So the only smart things left for showing the house; the thermostat and doorbell camera that are staying with the house, and some smart bulbs in table/ desk/floor lamps, none of which are connected in any way to a switch. Was all of that necessary? I don’t know, but I did want to avoid any confusion as much as possible. Going without the automation for a few weeks, but that’s ok.

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IMHO - Most of it was. With the Ecobee and the Nest you also should consult documentation for both and get instructions to factory reset them and prep them to move to the new owner’s account. (Read: Not your renamed account with a new password)

Because:

  • You don’t want to be the new owner’s tech support
  • You don’t want the liability of passing over any accounts
  • You shouldn’t show things in the home that won’t be there after the sale.

(read: sounds like your realtor gave good advice)

Congrats on your pending move and enjoy setting everything up in the new place :slight_smile:

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