When Entrata unveiled Connect two years ago, the virtual event quickly resonated with a broad multifamily audience and created more engagement than we ever could have imagined. Over the past two years, we’ve enjoyed interacting with thousands of Connect attendees, and sharing messages from notable keynotes like Matthew McConaughey and Daniel Levy, musical artists Rachel Platten and Gavin DeGraw. Now, Connect is back for a third year—albeit scaled-back for a post-lockdown world. continue
A prospect arrives at an apartment community where he encounters a self-serve kiosk. He types in his parameters for the type of home he is seeking. A mobile, humanoid-type robot arrives at his side, asking if he has any follow-up questions.
The robot scans his ID to make sure he is who he says he is, then produces a key fob. The prospect is free to visit the apartment that fits his parameters and take a look. An iPad equipped with chatbot technology will be in the apartment home, the robot explains, in case he has any further questions while exploring the unit.
He can also use the tablet if he chooses to sign a lease on the spot via a fully automated process. Sounds like the perfect modern-day leasing process, right?
Not really. continue
In recent years, the multifamily industry has dealt with widespread lockdowns, increased housing regulations and eviction moratoriums, and a fair amount of upheaval. By and large, the industry has weathered each change with resilience. Apartment communities have adapted quickly to keep residents safe and businesses secure, implementing time-saving technologies faster than ever before.
As we settle into a new dynamic “normal” across the industry, the need for speed and efficiency remain top priorities for many property professionals. And at every level, from property to portfolio, the demand for easy-to-use, secure digital transactions is growing.
Rikki Dolor, a property manager at Capano Management breaks it down like this: “With new construction we’re filling up an entire building. We could have 40 people moving in on one weekend. A 30 page lease may take an hour to complete on a good day. That’s a whole work-week right there.”
Traditional, in-person, and paper based workflows are giving way to faster, online experiences. Capano uses Entrata’s ResidentPortal and the ResidentPortal app to keep things moving quickly at lease-signing and beyond. Prospective residents begin interacting with the community online from the moment they submit a guest card, and that online relationship continues after they move in. continue
For all of the positive elements offered by the apartment world, the industry sometimes makes national headlines for dubious reasons. Most often it’s due to the issue of housing affordability, and traditional security deposits can be a major accomplice to the problem.
Paying hefty rent prices is challenging enough for many renters. And with the national average rent hovering in the $1,500 range, asking residents to pay first and last months’ rent as part of a security deposit sometimes isn’t feasible. A recent Renter Sentiment Report from Jetty indicated an even split between renters able and unable to afford a security deposit.
In the past, a security deposit was simply part of the territory if you wanted to rent an apartment. But that practice has become such a problem for both renters and operators—who lose out on many potential renters because they can’t pay the exorbitant upfront costs—that many property managers are opting to break the mold. continue
With virtually any tech innovation, a primary objective is to make it as universally accessible as possible. A cellphone provider that only has service on coastal markets or smart locks that only work with iPhones probably won’t have widespread impact.
The same holds true for property management systems. In order to be a truly comprehensive operating system, the platform can’t contain an abundance of niche features that only work in limited locales or for certain types of properties. While it’s OK to have a few niche features of the add-on variety, the primary components of a successful operating system should be more universal.
Most of the industry’s leading providers are keenly aware of this concept and diligently work to make their platforms accessible to all reaches of the U.S. But few have looked beyond our borders to expand the product internationally.
That’s what makes Entrata’s recent expansion into Canada unique, but it wasn’t done without a measured approach and, naturally, a bevy of data crunching. The pandemic reshaped living and working habits across the globe, and while many took note of the ever-shifting landscape in the U.S., Entrata also intensely analyzed Canadian renter trends. continue
While 2020 can still lay claim to the most chaotic year the apartment industry (and perhaps everybody else) has ever experienced, we didn’t exactly get back to business-as-usual in 2021.
Sure, some semblance of normalcy returned, but 2021 also was a year of continued adjustments, ever-changing protocols, and prolonged staff shortages—all while the industry continued to push the envelope from a technology perspective.
Here is a look at some of the major multifamily storylines from the year: continue
Artificial intelligence and automation were gradually adopted by the multifamily industry in recent years due to their assist value. While they weren’t designed to replace associates, AI and automation can handle an abundance of tedious day-to-day tasks and enable associates to concentrate on higher-level initiatives.
One of the telling side effects of the pandemic, however, has been the labor shortage—a trend that has transcended multifamily and affected virtually every industry. Now, apartment operators are leaning on AI and automation not only for their assist value, but also to help compensate for the dearth of associates.
That was one of the primary takeaways of the National Multifamily Housing Council’s OPTECH conference last month in National Harbor, Maryland. Experts at the event discussed many of the industry’s pressing issues that have arisen in an unprecedented environment for both consumers and associates.
Here is a look at some of the additional topics discussed: continue
On the business side, multifamily and single-family rentals had always been distinct entities. An operator either managed one or the other with very little crossover.
But that is changing. As the single-family market becomes increasingly popular, many of the big players in the multifamily space are beginning to develop single-family, build-to-rent divisions. A measured approach is required, however, as panelists discussed at the 2021 OPTECH session Opportunities and Risks in the Single-Family Rental Market. continue
The apartment industry has always utilized data to some degree. But the metrics used in the past were often those of a general variety that nearly anyone could access, including broad regional trends and basic submarket data.
While helpful on the surface, those data points didn’t help operators answer higher-level questions, such as whether certain amenities or upgraded finishes would help command premiums in a given submarket, or whether the psychographics of a specific area pointed to an uptick in potential renters. continue
Before the tech revolution, the user experience in multifamily was always collaborative. The user—the person searching for an apartment home—would meet with members from the property team, or at the very least connect with them over the phone.
Tech has shown us that many leasing functions, from the home search and application processes to the tour itself, can be done digitally. But in the quest to provide a wide array of expedient digital options, some property teams have drifted too far from the original roots of the renter journey. In some cases, the journey is entirely bereft of human contact.
And while an interaction-free option might appeal to some renters, the best user experience typically occurs with a mix of tech and old-fashioned human contact.
Here are some ways to strike that balance: continue