How Apartment Owners Are Bridging the Technology Gap

Article originally posted on Globe St. on May 14, 2019

Apartment owners are warming up to technology services and solutions. In the past, there, owners have been hesitant to integrate and invest in new technologies, creating a technology gap for renters. Now, apartment owners are seeing the benefits of technology—it can generate higher rents, create more efficiency and better service and actually save money by eliminating tedious and time-consuming tasks, like rent collection. Now, apartment owners have started to partner with technology companies like Google, IBM and Amazon to launch specialty services.

“Anytime technology can be implemented to streamline and improve the experience of prospects or residents, it creates an opportunity for communities to convert leads, increase revenue and retain residents,” Chase Harrington, president and chief operating officer at Entrata, tells GlobeSt.com. “These partnerships empower the industry to stay more current in the constantly changing technology environment.”

Consumer demand for more smart features has forced this hand. According to Harrington, a recent resident survey found that 57% of renters were willing to pay more in monthly rent to have smart features in-unit. “In order to fully capitalize on these renter preferences, industry tech players have entered into partnerships and integrations with major consumer technology providers,” he says. “These partnerships enable residents and onsite teams to have centralized control of their smart amenities. They allow apartment operators to expand their reach to future renters with tools like live chat features from IBM Watson. Residents, meanwhile, can make rental payments, check their account balances, verify office hours, and learn about upcoming community events through Amazon Alexa.”

Entrata, a property management software company based in Salt Lake City, has forged partnerships with leading technology companies to develop scalable smart apartment tools. Currently, the company has launched a live chat powered by IBM Watson. The tool features an intuitive bot that can answer property specific questions, provide real-time availability and schedule tours for prospects. “These technologies are designed for convenience and efficiency, which reduce costs and save time for onsite teams,” says Harrington. “Currently, about 25% of renters sign a lease without seeing the property in person, which underscores the emerging importance of virtual tours. Chat bots, meanwhile, will reduce the time leasing associates spend answering resident questions and will save the costs associated with large call centers.”

While there are benefits to taking on the challenge, developing technology into an asset is complicated, and the complexity explains why apartment owners have been slow to make the investment. “Incorporating technology into a physical asset is a bit more involved than on a consumer product,” explains Harrington. “It requires due diligence and a measured approach. Implementing the wrong technology into thousands of apartment homes can be costly if replacing that hardware is necessary in a few years. Constantly changing technology has made some apartment operators hesitant to select and implement hardware. But as smart-home technology begins to mature, adoption is becoming much more possible.”

Chase Harrington

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