Friday, 9 March 2012

Universal Access to Information About a Home Will Change the Way Consumers Buy & Sell Homes

This article first appeared in the Toronto Sun - Homes-Extra on March 9, 2012.

We have all heard the expression, “in the cloud.” From email to banking, a fundamental shift away from software to remote, cloud-based connectivity is making access to our vital information easier than ever before. So what does cloud computing have to do with the home building industry? A lot, actually.

Lowe’s Home Improvement recently launched “MyLowe’s,” a cloud-based portal for homeowners which will allow their customers to store information on purchases they make for their homes such as model numbers, owner's manuals, warranties, and paint formulas. No longer will important documentation be relegated to a box, lost or misplaced in that urgent time of need. Purchase products, install and enjoy; when you need to do maintenance, troubleshoot or reference the warranty terms, simply login and access the information.

As valuable as a cloud-based portal is to a homeowner, the most exciting aspect of this technology goes well beyond the basic convenience of the tool. Universal access to the home’s information and transferability will change the way consumers buy and sell homes.

Imagine having access to a service history when buying a home, similar to CarFax in the automotive industry. Home inspectors would be able to provide a detailed report as to how the upkeep of the home’s components has been done based on the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations, as well as inform the purchaser as to what extended warranties are still intact. Insurance companies will be able to calculate replacement & repair costs far more accurately based on the records kept in the portal.

In the modern age of real estate, property changes hands more than it use to. Most homeowner’s now have to use their first and often second homes as stepping stones. Each home purchase represents a significant investment and as such, anything a seller can do to reduce the risk and add more value will become increasingly important. After all, when buying a used car, don’t we all want low kilometres and an impeccable service history? Until recently, the only peace of mind we had when buying a resale home was the word of a qualified home inspector.

Convenience, transferability and universal access to important information; when you combine these attributes, it is easy to see how “in the cloud” technology can change an entire industry. For residential construction, the question is no longer how, but when.

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