Security systems aren’t the sexiest topic among homeowners (cameras and alarms don’t quite have the pizazz of a fancy kitchen upgrade or fresh new flooring). But they are trending. Americans’ fear of package theft spurred the rise of new door monitoring stars like Nest and Ring and breathed new life (or should we say, new AI) into home security legends like ADT.
In 2018, around 50 million home security camera systems flew off the shelves. Despite the decline of national crime rates in the past decade, the home security industry is rapidly growing. Research firms anticipate home security will be a $47.5 billion industry by 2020 — a staggering 8.7% annual growth rate from the $28.3 billion valuation in 2014.
The hype comes at a cost with home security systems ranging from $99 flat to $60 a month in operating charges. With this price, you improve the safety of your home by deterring crime and providing a first defense against break-ins, but does adding a security system increase home value? Let’s explore how home security systems impact the sale of your home along with their safety benefits so you can decide if the cost is worth it for your home.
Types of home security systems
Like any product en vogue, there’s an array of home security systems at all different price points to choose from.
Basic systems include DIY setups with a single camera at your front door which you monitor personally from your smartphone. On the other end of the spectrum, there are professionally installed, tested, and monitored super systems with cameras and alarm triggers at every entry point.
Consider your home security objectives and compare home security system features and pricing. Reviews.org provides an excellent, comprehensive comparison of the 13 best home security systems in 2020. Here’s an overview of the top five picks:
Pros: Top of the line equipment, 4K cameras, easy mobile control, wide selection of smart devices, professional installation
Cons: Expensive equipment, aggressive sales tactics
Operating cost: $29.99 – $44.99 a month
Pros: Fantastic customer service, easy DIY installation, frequent equipment discounts
Cons: Pricey professional monitoring plans
Operating cost: $44.99 – $49.99 a month
Pros: Multiple contract options, great customer service, diverse equipment selection, affordable pricing
Cons: Not the most attractive equipment
Operating cost: $30.99 – $44.99 a month
Pros: Free self-monitoring, easy DIY setup, innovative technology
Cons: Expensive equipment
Operating cost: $0 – $29 a month
Pros: Compatible with a range of third party devices, flexible monitoring, free self-monitoring
Cons: Lower quality cameras
Operating cost: $0 – $20 a month
Professionally monitored systems rank most effective
As we mentioned, the more expensive security plans are professionally monitored. When something triggers an alarm or camera, the system notifies a security professional in a monitoring center to review the footage. If there is suspicious activity, they will call you immediately and contact emergency responders on your behalf if you are unavailable. This layered approach adds a human element to home security and helps to catch errors smart systems might otherwise miss.
Smart home security systems allow you to control your home from anywhere
The latest home security systems pair with your smartphone so you can view cameras, lock doors, arm or disarm security points, and receive instant notifications on alarm triggers wherever you are.
Many smart home security systems integrate with your other smart devices such as light bulbs, thermostats, and door locks so you can trigger these remotely through your security system’s app. Home security systems including Frontpoint and Vivint, will pair with third party devices (i.e. devices from other manufacturers), while more exclusive systems like Nest and Ring limit pairings to their brand affiliated devices.
Home security systems increase your home’s marketability
Home security systems are no doubt a desirable feature which helps market your home. According to a survey conducted by Coldwell Banker, 28% of adults in the U.S. have smart home products including home security systems in their home. Millennials, currently the largest share of homebuyers, are the greatest adopters of smart home products with 47% claiming to have them in their home.
When you’re selling a house with an alarm system, appeal to tech lovers by highlighting these benefits in your marketing materials:
System features: Not all buyers are familiar with how home security systems work. Include details like these on how your system operates:
- System sends notifications to your smartphone when someone is at the door
- Cameras at all potential entry points protect your home from all angles
- This smart home security system is compatible with other smart home devices
- Cameras include professional monitoring for $30 a month
Home insurance discounts:
Home security systems may lower your homeowners insurance costs since they can reduce the likelihood of home invasion or theft. Home insurance companies grant the biggest discount, as high as 20%, for systems with professional monitoring. This discount may be substantial enough to cover or exceed the running costs of the home security system. For reference, 24/7 Home Security provides a list of the top insurance companies’ discounts as of 2018.
Research shows the visible presence of home security systems deter invasion and theft. If crime does occur, security camera footage provides evidence to identify perpetrators. Hang tight and we’ll share some facts on how home security systems prevent crime with you in a minute.
Don’t expect buyers to pay more for your home’s security systems
While home security systems help attract buyers, don’t expect these systems — or lack thereof — to make or break a buyer’s offer. Buyers see home security systems as an added bonus, not necessarily as a value adding factor they will pay more for.
This even applies to buyers in tech junkie regions like Northern California. Jay Friedman, a top real estate agent in Roseville who sells 75% more homes than the average agent, shares he recently decked out a luxury home with smart home security features including an August door lock, Ring doorbell, cameras, and televisions to entice buyers:
“Honestly, I thought and my client thought that the smart house features we put in there would add value. We spent some pretty good money on it, but it didn’t add to the value. It added a little bit of pizzazz, but nobody saw the value that it added, the expense that was spent to make it happen.”
Friedman explains that while prospective buyers verbally shared they liked the extra security features, it did not influence their offers. “When it came down to it, we still got grinded on the price,” he admits.
Home security systems may slightly increase your home’s appraised value
When it’s time for appraisal, home security systems may slightly impact your house’s value for the better. Appraisers determine your home’s value by comparing it’s features to those of recently sold comparatives, also known as “comps.” The appraisal weighs objective factors such as square footage, number of bedrooms, and location with subjective criteria like condition, views, and add-ons like including security features.
If your home is in excellent condition and includes the latest smart security features that other properties lack, appraisers may consider the technology as an influencing adjustment to secure a higher comparative price. However, this difference is typically minute since it is difficult to put a number on the value home security systems add, especially due to the rapidly improving nature of technology. Appraisers ask themselves, how much more should buyers pay for a house with a home security system that could grow outdated in 5 years’ time?
Improved safety features protect the value of your home
While it’s contestable whether home security systems add value to your property, there is substantial evidence that these systems protect your valuables in your home.
A notable survey of 422 incarcerated burglars by University of North Carolina at Charlotte reveals security cameras were the most effective deterrent to burglars. 60% of the burglars said they would only target a site without cameras and 50% said they would abort a burglary if security cameras were discovered.
If your home security system prevents a break in, you’ll save thousands of dollars in loss. The latest annual FBI crime report estimates that there were 1,230,149 burglaries in 2018. Victims of burglary offenses suffered an average loss of $2,799 ($3.4 billion in losses nationwide). The true impact burglary is even higher than this figure when considering the loss of irreplaceable items such as family heirlooms and the inestimable emotional damage to homeowners.
There are no guarantees against crime, but adding a home security system provides your house with a layer of protection that may compensate for the lack of return on investment when it’s time to sell. Cameras and point of entry alarms give you the ability to:
- Monitor your home if you’re selling remotely
- Contribute suspect identifying camera footage in the event of crime
- Defend against package theft
- Keep an eye on the house while your kids are home
- Help Airbnb guests and tenants feel safe (do follow Airbnb’s rules and local laws on camera placement)
- Deter home invasion
Home security systems are valuable, just don’t expect a full ROI
View adding a home security system as a personal decision: the system will have a greater impact on your experience living in your home than it will on the value of your home when you sell. If you do opt to install a home security system, highlight the system’s features and benefits when you list your home — buyers will remember a house decked out with bright and shiny safety tech.
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