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Smart Home

Here's a whole community of Apple HomeKit-powered smart homes

California home builder KB Home wants to use Apple HomeKit's connected home controls to sell houses -- and it's unveiling the first "HomeKit-enabled community" to help make the sale.

Can smart-home tech help sell houses? One California homebuilder is betting that it can, with an entire neighborhood of new homes designed to play nice with Apple HomeKit.

The home builder is KB Home, and the neighborhood is the Promenade at Communications Hill in San Jose, California -- just 20 minutes southeast of Silicon Valley. KB now offers an Apple HomeKit package with every home in the neighborhood, and even features a model home filled with HomeKit-compatible lights, locks, thermostats and more.

In other words, welcome to the iNeighborhood.

First announced in 2014, HomeKit is Apple's iOS-based platform for the connected home. It's really just a set of rules and protocols programmed into the software that powers iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches. Smart home gadgets that follow those rules enjoy full compatibility with Apple's mobile devices, which lets users control them using Apple's Home app, or by using spoken Siri commands.

Houses in KB's Apple-friendly neighborhood start just north of $900K.

Screenshot by Ry Crist/CNET

And, if you're thinking of moving into the Promenade at Communications Hill, those HomeKit-friendly gadgets are now a big part of the sales pitch.

It's the first community built around HomeKit, but not the first time we've seen big real estate try and tap into smart home tech to help close sales. Earlier in 2016, real estate franchise Coldwell Banker started selling "smart home staging kits" to clients trying to sell their homes. With recent studies showing that more and more Americans associate smart home tech with a move-in ready house, the kits are aimed at helping sellers keep up.

KB Home is following a similar strategy here, and trying to stay ahead of the curve as analysts continue to project the potential for immense growth in the connected home.

KB's HomeKit-ready homes won't come cheap. Pricing for a three-story, four-bedroom townhouse starts in the low $900,000s. Of course, this is California we're talking about, where real estate is expensive to begin with.

A model house that's decked out with HomeKit-friendly tech is already open for tours, with several listings for the neighborhood live now. According to reports, the smart home packages will start at around $4,000, and include HomeKit-compatible lights, locks, thermostats, and ceiling fans, as well as an Apple TV and an iPad to control everything. A complimentary "concierge service" is also included for support needs.