At the end of 2019, Multifamily was on the rise in growth as more people wanted to live near where they worked and played–in fast-paced cities bustling with activity and nightlife. However, things changed quickly with the introduction of COVID and there was a shift toward outer-suburban single-family home ownership.
What impact will this have on multifamily developments moving forward? It will be critical for Multifamily operators and developers to lean into technology that will balance health and convenience for both residence and staff.
Here are a few key tech plays that will make an impact for your property in 2021:
Indoor Air Quality:
HVAC air quality control that will ensure clean healthy air throughout the property will be a must. “All the studies and surveys are showing that consumers are looking at indoor air quality as a necessity” says Michael D. Ham of Pure 365. Last year, a Harvard JHCS Survey found that 65% of households felt the top concern for healthy homes was indoor air quality. “Everything has up ticked post COVID and it’s clearly in strong demand”. Having air filtration units installed that will filter ultrafine particles and constantly refresh units with clean air is going to be very important.
Work from home was on the rise before the pandemic with 43% of Americans telecommuting some portion of their work week, according to Gallop. Now that companies have had a crash course in operating with a telecommuting workforce, many are making their generous work-from-home policies permanent. For renters, this makes good cell phone reception and high-speed internet a top priority.
Beyond basic connectivity, Millennial and Gen Z cohorts expect smart-home capabilities and are accustomed to being able to connect to nearly everything via mobile services. Multifamily developers will need to think about how their residents will connect to the community itself whether that be maintenance requests, rent payment, or access schedules for community common rooms.
Access control has been increasingly important to residents and property owners. With the rise of app services like Door dash and Instacart, the need for temporary allowances for grocery deliveries, takeout, or dog walkers has made access management and onsite security tricky. We caught up with Mariam Rogers of Brivo & Brigitte Daniel of Wilco at the TecHome Builder Online Summit where they talked about how mobile management solutions are a great option in these instances. “It allows for property operators to grant access to these “pre-screened” people who are allowed to be on the property”, says Rogers. These solutions let property management to see who is coming in and out, why they are there and where they are going at just a glance.
Mobile Management also allows extended operating hours for prospects who are given temporary access for self-guided tours. Data from these visits, including how long a prospect stayed and what amenities were accessed or missed, allows for detailed and personal follow-up which increases new resident closings.
“We saw an acceleration in mobile management from the pandemic when operators could only allow for a skeleton crew on property sites for a solid three months,” says Daniel, “the ability to remotely manage your facility from a device in your pocket–from anywhere in the world–was not only useful but critical and you are going to see managers continue to adopt these technologies moving forward.”
Develop Good Vender Partnerships:
One take-away that repeated in all of our Multifamily sessions at the TecHome Builder Online Summit, was for property managers to branch out and seek vender partnerships that can help create full tech solutions from mobile management to HVAC and smart apartment automation. “Partner with someone who has longevity in the space who are experienced,” suggests Rogers, “they have gone through the process so many times– they will make it easier for you”.
There is no denying the rise of the pandemic created unique challenges for multifamily but planning ahead and investing in tech plays can help retain and attract community residents.