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Posted by on in Property Management
Dear Gabby: The Future of Apartments: Smart Home Tech

Dear Gabby,

 

I guess I’m getting old. My daughter just had to show me how to download an app on my new smart phone. Technology is advancing so rapidly, and I’m having a hard time keeping up, especially when it comes to smart home technology.

 

All of the young property managers are talking about it and I feel out of the loop. What should I be focusing on when it comes to new technology at my multifamily housing community?

 

- #NotTheNextSteveJobs

 


 

Dear #NotTheNextSteveJobs,

 

It’s okay, I think my teenage son knows more about technology than me too. Kids these days! The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to understand how technology works in order to start capitalizing on the benefits it can provide to your apartment.

 

Smart home tech is one of the hottest trends in the multifamily industry right now. Why? Smart-home features such as smartphone-managed lighting and security are giving renters a greater sense of control.

 

Millennial renters aren’t going to be scared off by technology -- they already know how it works… and they like it. In fact, according to a new study from Bailey Brand Consulting, 74% of them believe technology makes their lives easier. And since millennials currently make up the largest group of renters, it’s a good idea to focus your efforts on appealing to them.

 

Okay, now that you understand the “whys” of smart technology, let’s focus on the “what.” Here’s a list of some of the most desirable technology that will boost the IQ of your apartment building and attract renters:

 

Smart Locks

How many times have you gotten calls from your renters saying they’ve locked themselves out of their apartment? Too many times, am I right? Smart locks will eliminate that. They let renters receive alerts and track who's entering and leaving their unit; email limited-access digital passcodes to guests when they’re not home; and remotely lock and unlock their door when they’re away. They also have a low upfront cost and help you reduce your costs of rekeying units during turnover.

 

Smart Thermostats

Smart thermostats offer remote monitoring and control. Some systems even use infrared detection to determine whether anyone is in the unit. Based on the information it collects, the thermostat can either reduce or raise the temperature. Say goodbye to frozen pipes and hello to big savings!

 

Light Programming and Control

Smart bulbs are the perfect place to start if you're looking to haul your multifamily community into the smart home revolution. Not to mention, they're getting cheaper and easier to set up. Smart bulbs let renters control all the lights from their smartphone. Gone are the days of wondering if you forgot to turn all the lights off. Side note: these systems also let renters change the color and brightness of the light -- who knew light bulbs could be so fun?!  

 

Voice Control Smart Home Hubs

And one of the coolest advancements in home automation is the growing integration of voice control. With this technology, it’s now possible for renters to start brewing coffee or shut window blinds with a single voice command. These devices link all of your smart home technology together and allow them to control it with the sound of their voice. There are a number of options out there -- explore them here.

 

I recommend starting with the above devices, but here are a few others you might want to consider investigating:

 

  • Smart CO2 detectors and alarms that send alerts to smartphones

  • Security systems with remote monitoring and viewing

  • Smart TVs and home entertainment systems

  • Remote controlled window blinds

  • Smart Kitchen Appliances

Incorporating smart technology will help your renters live like the Jetsons. Don’t feel like you have to go all in at once -- start small. Your investment will surely pay off in the long run! And who knows, maybe you’ll even become a technology expert in the process!

Signing off!

 

- Gabby

With 17+ years of experience in the multifamily industry, I'm here to chew bubble gum and kick multifamily topics' butts...and I'm all outta bubble gum #DearGabby
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  • Dear Gabby,
    I'm surprised that you didn't mention connectivity as necessary for smart home technology. We already seem to take wireless high speed internet access for granted, but it is important to remember that an NMHC Kingsley Associates survey showed High Speed internet as the top requested in home amenity in 2016 (nmhc.org/residents). Look at leveraging a reliable robust WiFi amenity into a complete technology package has been proven to promote lease up and reduce churn, with a positive impact on NOI.

  • I agree with you, Jacki. It is absolutely amazing to me that more operators are not looking to connectivity as an absolutely MASSIVE competitive advantage over single family. The reality is that many millennials came from dorm situations that had incredibly fast Internet speeds. And then fast forwarding to single family, they are often stuck in monopolistic conditions with few choices and (relatively) very slow speeds. Apartment communities, however, have the ability to offer gigabit speeds to their residents, which is an incredible amenity to those who download and stream as much as millennials do. I realize that it doesn't fit exactly into the smart appliance theme of this post, but I agree that it is a huge opportunity for communities.

  • Hi Gabby,

    Thanks for sharing this blog post! Your response offers great insight on smart home technology and how multi-family professionals can incorporate new technology in their communities.

    As you mentioned, smart home technology is one of the hottest trends in the space and Millennials are quickly embracing all of its offerings. A recent Schlage survey found that on average, millennial renters would pay around a fifth more for smart home technology and 61 percent are likely to rent an apartment because of its electronic access features. These survey findings demonstrate a significant shift among potential renters, and facility managers must adapt to meet this new demand to remain competitive within the space.

    While updating a facility to meet this demand may seem daunting at first, there are many long-term benefits, such as ROI and better key management. An electronic access control system offers better key management because facility managers can spend less time and money rekeying. They can manage the system electronically, allowing them to assign or revoke access as needed. In turn, these managers can spend more time focusing on other aspects of the property.

    Gabby, do you think connectivity of devices will also impact the industry?