Keep it Simple, Stupid
Aside from the unsettling phrase, "We're not going to sell unless we get our price," the next not-so-wonderful statement on a Realtor's hit list is: "Everything in our house runs on an app!" (Ugh.)
Not that I don't appreciate technology; it's clearly here to stay, and Cliff and I have absolutely benefitted from solar panels, Tesla walls, Apple TVs, Ring doorbells, faster Internet, and our own share of "smart" upgrades, not to mention the proverbial iPhones and laptops that make it possible to travel the world while simultaneously keeping an eye on what's happening back at home. (That's both good and bad.) Next up: A.I.
Moreover, COMPASS has carved out its dominant market share in no small part, by offering more advanced technology to its Agents and their clients, which is all well and good when it comes to a "tech" company creating better online tools, but as it relates to our homes, there's a BIG GAP between technology that makes things easier and techno-gadgets for gadget's sake.
The problem with houses designed to run entirely and remotely via apps is that when the Sellers move out and disconnect the wifi, taking their phones with them, it's difficult for anyone else to easily work the mechanics of the house, including the Realtors® you've hired to sell it.
Agents most often run into these issues around irrigation, exterior lighting, sound systems, security systems, and interior thermostats - all of which we need to access when representing your WAY-too-smart home. A few weeks ago, we stood outside a house waiting for the Seller to engage his garage door from Los Angeles when a keypad would have done the job far more expediently. (It didn't work and we couldn't get in.)
Consequently, when updating your systems, we want to encourage you to make sure that the irrigation has a manual box to set the timer; that your lights can go on and off with the flick of a switch, and that your thermostat has a manual override so we can turn on the heat as needed . . . . Above all else, your technology should be easily transferable and operational to someone who didn't get a masters at MIT. (Maybe that's my problem; I went to City College.)
While putting in our garden lights several years ago, I got talked into a fancy program that stymies me to this day. It doesn't help that the enthusiastic electrician "switched us over" to a different app the last time he was adjusting the program. What I want (and all I want) and what I would still prefer is a separate switch for each lighting zone outside. Path lights, uplights, exterior chandeliers . . . Click, and the lights go on. Click, and the lights go off. What could be easier? Is an app really necessary? (No, it's not.)
At the risk of being politically incorrect: "Keep it simple, stupid," but then again, I'm from the generation that grew up with rotary phones (and people who classified things as "stupid"). Technology wasn't our mother tongue. We couldn't conceive how much "tech" would change the world, and while I certainly wouldn't suggest that ALL technology is "stupid," some of it seems to needlessly complicate a simple process.
So yes, I'll admit that I still prefer a checklist written out on a piece of paper rather than my phone, if only because it feels so satisfying to cross things off throughout the day. And while our real estate folders primarily live online, thanks to Sarah's tech-savvy daughter, Kate, I've discovered that I still need a couple of pieces of hard copy to better organize my day. What's concretely in front of me gets my attention; those things that live in the ether or have to be searched out in my thousands of emails, documents and reports, don't.
With all due respect to technology, the simpler things are, the easier they are to master, especially because your doorbell will still work when the electricity goes off - as will a good old-fashioned flashlight. Candle anyone?
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.