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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

'Wired' Homes Appeal To Buyers

NEW YORK -- Michael Levine wanted what many people would in a new house, a safe neighborhood and low upkeep. But what really sold him on Centennial, a 900-home development north of Indianapolis, was the wiring - a ready-to-use, high-speed Internet connection and cable and telephone service provided by the builder.

For a growing number of home buyers, high-speed Internet connections are becoming as important as a two-car garage, prompting some developers and builders to jump into the telecom business. Either by building and owning neighborhood networks or by joining with telecom companies, they are offering Internet access, with cable and phone service, at up to $20 a month below the typical cost. Instead of different bills, people may pay one fee for Internet and cable through a homeowners' association.

Their efforts are in the early stages, most wired developments have sprouted just in the last year.

"What we began to see during the last couple of years was a huge explosion in demand" for these connections, said Glen Barnard, who runs the e-commerce business at Kaufman & Broad Home, a Los Angeles builder.

Builders also see a way to have continuing revenue from these services - perhaps 10 percent of total fees.

Broadband, or high-speed access, is already a must for some home buyers. Moving from Redmond, Washington, recently, Ed and Judy Bott looked at 40 developments in Arizona before settling on DC Ranch, a new wired community in Scottsdale.

"Not having high-speed access would have been a deal-breaker," said Bott, an author and magazine editor who telecommutes.