3 Easy Smart Home Upgrades for Borrowers on a Budget
Chase Gilbert - President at Built
Zak Stoiber, Digital Marketing Specialist
Whether you’re in the process or have already helped your borrower secure their new home, you should consider suggesting these easy smart home upgrades for borrowers on a budget. In fact, some of these low-cost smart home upgrades may even save your borrowers money – and what kind of loan officer doesn’t want that?

Smart Speaker

If your borrower likes the idea of using their voice to do things they’d usually do on a smart phone or computer – like check the weather, set alarms, make calls, stream music, or online shop – then they should consider adding a smart speaker as the foundation of their smart home. A smart speaker is voice-controlled and acts as the “hub” of a smart home, which allows the homeowner to issue commands to other smart home products, such as adjusting a smart thermostat or smart light bulbs.

Deciding on a smart speaker is more than just going for what looks or sounds the best – each speaker also comes with an AI assistant. They are: Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google’s Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. They all have their pros and cons, but Alexa is the most popular and is compatible with more smart home products than the others. Amazon offers the Echo Dot for less than $50, perfect for borrowers on a budget.

For the borrower who wants to dip their toe into smart home technology at a low cost, establish a hub for future products, and would rather use their voice than their smart phone.

Cost: $39 or less for the Echo Dot

Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat may not have the “wow” factor other smart home products offer, but the subtle improvements to a traditional thermostat – including some neat advanced features – will save your borrower money while also keeping them comfortable all year round.

While many traditional thermostats already offer options for programming a schedule, a smart thermostat such as the Nest Thermostat E will automatically adjust to the homeowner’s routine after they set it normally for a few days in a row. Like most smart home devices, smart thermostats can be accessed via a phone app where additional features are available. One energy efficient feature will automatically adjust the temperature setting when no one is home, ensuring that energy isn’t wasted heating or cooling an empty home.

For the borrower who likes to save money, reduce waste and increase energy efficiency.

Cost: $139 for Nest E
Savings: Estimated $131 to $145 a year

Smart Light Bulbs

For a smart home upgrade that does have a “wow” factor, look no further than smart light bulbs. Your borrower will delight at the ability to instantly illuminate their home to one (or more) of 16 million colors via a smart phone app or voice command when paired with a smart speaker.

The leading smart bulb product is Philips Hue, and in addition to the official app that can control every smart light in the house, there are plenty of other apps that can provide your borrower with functionality straight out of a science fiction movie. For example, they can program the lights to flash when their favorite sports team wins a game or to simulate the effect of calming clouds passing overhead.

Smart bulbs use energy-efficient LED technology, which offers substantial savings over traditional incandescent bulbs over time. If your borrower’s home has already been rid of incandescent lights, however, switching to smart bulbs won’t save them money; they range from $15 to $50 per smart LED bulb compared to around $5 for a traditional white LED bulb. While smart bulbs are more of a luxury compared to the previous products, the investment will last your borrower up to 15 years.

For the borrower who enjoys impressing guests with one of the (literally) flashiest smart home upgrades and/or needs to upgrade from incandescent bulbs.

Cost of Philips Hue with hub: $89 for 4 white bulbs / $200 for 4 color bulbs
Savings: Varies. Use this calculator to determine if your borrower can save money by switching to smart bulbs.

Infographic: Anatomy of a Smart Home – 6 Clever Products


Zak Stoiber

Zak Stoiber

Digital Marketing Program Specialist

Zak Stoiber is a Digital Marketing Program Specialist at MGIC who focuses on writing, research, analytics and social media. Zak manages MGIC's social media accounts, and has delivered presentations to banks and credit unions around the country in an effort to help mortgage professionals improve their ability to connect with borrowers and referral partners.

In 2012 he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and has been with MGIC for more than 6 years. His writing can also be found on loanofficerhub.com, readynest.com and mgic-connects.com.

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