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MAHOMET — When someone rings the doorbell at Carl Hill’s sister-in-law’s home in Arizona, he can see who’s knocking from his phone in Urbana.

“It works very well,” he said. “I can answer the doorbell right here. I can see in the living room.”

Hill uses the smart doorbell because he helps take care of his sister-in-law’s husband and lives there in the winter.

This kind of smart technology is becoming more popular, and Hill, the owner of Hillshire Development, said it’s becoming expected in the new homes he’s developing.

Keith Harris, the owner of Hearthstone Homes, helped build one of Hill’s homes in the South Ridge subdivision in Urbana on display for the Showcase Parade of Homes going on this weekend and next.

He said the smart-home technology is becoming popular but said it doesn’t always have to be built in as the house is constructed.

“We can do so much wirelessly,” he said. “They can go in after the fact and do that. But it’s always available, and I think in the next few homes we’ll incorporate it here in Urbana.”

The Parade of Homes is also showcasing homes and apartments in the Conway Farms subdivision in Mahomet developed by Tabeling Development.

Project manager Austin Tabeling agreed that smart technology is becoming more common in homes, but he said there’s “lots of variations.”

“As technology is becoming bigger and bigger, it is expected, but I think people are looking toward what does that entail,” he said.

At Tabeling’s homes and apartments in Mahomet, they’ll have smart doorbells and smart light fixtures on display.

“The Showcase of Homes provides a good avenue for consumers to check out some of the features,” he said. “We’re assuming that it will become a lot more standard in more houses, even older ones.”

Tabeling and Hill also said homes are becoming more energy-efficient, as building standards are requiring it.

Seven years ago, Hill featured a home with all kinds of green technologies, such as foot-thick walls and geothermal heat pumps.

“It was the only place in the county at the time,” Hill said. “We kind of went to the extreme.”

While not all of those technologies have become more common, Hill said the standard building materials are more energy-efficient than they used to be.

“The materials have advanced,” he said. “You can make a very energy-efficient home out of what we now call standard material.”

And Tabeling said the Mahomet homes on display use a special type of insulation to save energy heating and cooling the homes, for example.

“It saves money on heating bills, and it’s good for the environment,” Tabeling said.

If you missed the Showcase Parade of Homes this weekend, it continues next weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday to Sunday.

Tickets cost $5 and are available online at showcaseparadeofhomes.com and in person at the event.

August 2019 Champaign County housing report

Champaign County saw another drop in home sales in August, with sales down more than 12 percent compared with the same month a year ago.

But Eric Porter, the president of the Champaign County Association of Realtors, remains cautiously optimistic.

“Consumer optimism in the market should remain steady in the fall as low mortgage rates persist,” he said.

However, he said “while consumers remain confident in the market, domestic and global economic issues and potential uncertainty may continue to cloud the market this fall.”

Source: Champaign County Association of Realtors

Metric August 2018 August 2019 Change
Homes sold 298 260 -12.75%
Median sale price $145,000 $165,500 +14.14%
Average sale price $171,853 $191,651 +11.52%
New listings 288 303 +5.21%
Average days on market 76 75 -1.32%
Pending sales 203 213 +4.93%
Average mortgage rate 4.55% 3.62% -20.45%