Tech Trends in Multi-Family Housing

April 5, 2017
by Mac Mischke

What sets your property apart?

For some, it’s location. No matter what amenities the competition offers, prime location draws prospects to the leasing office day in and day out.

Other properties beat the competition with luxurious amenities. Resort-style pools and 24-hour fitness centers provide residents with an area to hang out or work out in their own community.

Still other properties might woo prospects with bigger, better floor plans than the competition. Lots of prospects decide to move simply because they want to upgrade to a larger living space.

The point is, every property has a differentiating factor. Today’s blog post is about another differentiator: technology. Properties that take advantage of modern technology offer a more convenient lifestyle, and sometimes that can make all the difference.

Differentiators are important because prospects have no shortage of properties to choose from these days. Multifamily housing construction increased 43% from 2012-2014, compared to a 20% growth rate for single-family home construction during that time. Much of this growth has been propelled by a young population renting to take advantage of luxury amenities they can’t get with single family homes.

Here’s another statistic showing the demand for amenities only found in larger communities: In 2004, 24% of new multifamily units were located in large buildings with 50 or more units. In 2014, that number grew to 48%. With rent prices only going up, renters expect large communities to meet their wants and needs in terms of amenities.

One “want” that has become a “need” is high-speed internet. A fast Wi-Fi connection is the No. 1 desired amenity for multifamily properties according to Richard Holtz, CEO of Infinisys Electronic Architects. People want internet access in their apartments, at the pool, in the gym and in common areas. Today’s connected residents need Wi-Fi like they need air to breathe, and the industry must conform.

Technology can help bring in revenue too. A recent study by PayPal and Koski Research revealed that millennials enjoy paying digitally and are more than willing to try out emerging payment options. The study also reported that more than 30% of millennials consider credit cards to be “old school.” If credit cards are old school, what does that make monthly rent checks? The days of collecting rent payments in person are long gone, and online rent and utility payment portals should be the new industry standard. Online payment options not only help residents submit payments on time, but also helps them feel like their property management team is working with them rather than against them.

Smart home automation is the leading edge technology popping up in new properties these days. Nest Thermostats and smart lightbulbs work with mobile apps to help residents stay comfortable and reduce energy costs. These devices learn and adapt to resident preferences, giving your property an extra “wow” factor to mention in your multifamily marketing materials. Even low-cost smart home offerings like built-in USB ports let residents know your property is tech-savvy.

One new technology we’re extra excited about is Beacon technology. Apple’s iBeacon allows mobile apps to scan for signals from physical Beacons in the real world and react with push notifications. The opportunities to use Beacons with current residents and prospects are endless. For instance, when leasing agents are giving tours, Beacon technology can be used to highlight key features as residents make their way through the property. A finishing touch here, a spectacular view there, calling attention to the little things that residents might otherwise miss.

Current residents can receive alerts about special promotions at your property’s spa or snack bar when they walk by. Beacon technology could also remind residents about renewal specials when they’re passing your leasing office. Beacons are truly a next-level opportunity for apartment marketing.

At Threshold, we spend a lot of time coming up with marketing ideas for apartments that harness the power of emerging technology. We know that the faster property’s implement new technology, the more impressed future residents tend to be.