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Colorado's smart cities are labs for both tech and real estate

Are smart cities the way of the future? Tech companies think they may be and have already started pumping millions of dollars into developing them.

Two of these smart cities have already taken shape outside of Denver. As The Denver Post recently reported, Sterling Ranch and Peña Station Next are serving as labs for the ways smart technologies may help communities prepare for the future. They'll also give business owners a better idea of the real value of doing business in these communities that aspire to be "future proof."

The pros and cons of smart communities

Every day, the human population grows and skews toward large urban areas. We face future crises with nearly all our resources--including food, water and physical space for all our trash. At the same time, the internet continues to grow, and tech companies find more and more ways for devices to communicate with each other and with us.  So, the marketing pitch for the smart city revolution goes something like this:

  • Smart cities will make us more efficient
  • High-speed networks and countless sensors keep us connected to the Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Data gathered by the IoT help us conserve resources and manage our assets more effectively
  • We'll enjoy transformations in our schools, neighborhoods and government

These are exciting ideas, and they lead much of the smart city discussion to read like utopian fiction. They have also led thousands of early adapters to express interest in the growing communities, but it hasn't always been easy to recognize how much of the huge demand for property in communities like Sterling Ranch owes to smart design versus the larger demand for urban or suburban property.

As these smart communities mature and struggle with some of their unique challenges, business owners are likely to get a better idea of their true potential. Things to look for include:

  • How well the cities can develop and keep up the extra infrastructure necessary
  • What the infrastructure demands will mean for property taxes and livability
  • How cities will secure their IoT infrastructure from hacking and privacy concerns
  • What new laws such cities will need to draft and enforce
  • How well the promised changes to schools, traffic and government will be realized

Is it smart to invest in smart communities?

While the Colorado realty market recently hit record highs, its growth has been cooling off in terms of year-over-year results. Inventory has risen, and properties have taken longer to sell. The state's smart communities may present an intriguing chance for entrepreneurs to tap into a truly buzz-worthy market, but their challenges introduce new uncertainties. An experienced real estate attorney can help you do your due diligence.

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