Smart Home Tech: Is It Real Property or Personal Belongings in a Home Sale?

March 29, 2024

Many of today’s homeowners have accumulated multiple high-tech “smart” devices to make their home more convenient, economical, and fun to operate.  When they decide to sell the home, they need to make the listing agent completely aware of whether they will be included in the sale of the home. 

Some of these things easily meet the definition of real property because they are permanently installed like thermostats, doorbells, cameras, garage door openers, and pool equipment monitors.  A rule of thumb mentioned frequently is that if it were removed, the functionality would cease or if there would be evidence of where it had been, it is probably real property and is included in the sale.

Other devices like virtual assistants made by Amazon, Apple, or Google, may not specifically meet that criteria but they are needed to operate things like electrical switches and plugs, or lamps.  It becomes a grey area of whether it is real property when TV’s, doorbells, garage door openers, and other devices are dependent on the virtual assistants.

Door locks, as well as some other devices, have a master code written on them that allows the new owner to reset the combination ensuring not only their safety but potential liability for the seller.  In some cases, the seller will need to do this using the app on their computer or phone while it is still connected to their home network.  It may be prudent to arrange a time for the seller to reset the devices in question for the buyers’ convenience and security.

Smart home additions could easily be a selling point for potential buyers and sellers need to weigh the benefits of promoting the advantages of such and including those items in the sale of the home.

Make an inventory of what devices stay with the home and what needs to be done to reset them for the new owner.  This could be done at the time of listing the home and given to the listing agent at the same time the listing agreement is signed. Your listing agent will know how to handle it, but decisions must be made before the home is put on the market or it is shown to any prospective purchasers.

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