Conventional wisdom largely restricts the topic of smart home devices to new construction and class A multifamily developments. But experts in the sector say residents at every income level are willing and eager to pay for technological upgrades. During a panel at the IMN Middle Market Multifamily Forum in Orlando, experts, operators, and analysts discussed “Apartments of the Future.” The discussions laid a heavy emphasis on the types of smart technology residents find appealing when making a leasing decision.
Do Renters Actually Care?
Debbie Kimball is the Senior Account Manager at Point Central. PointCentral is a smart-home technology provider specializing in services for vacation rentals and residential property managers. According to Kimball, over 60 percent of multifamily property residents desire technological amenities and would pay increased rent for them. Kimball cited company surveys across multiple property classes and age and income demographics. “The appeal is not so much utility savings [which are often heavily promoted by apartment managers].” Rather, it’s “the ability to see when the children come home from school or to let the dog-walker in when they arrive. Everyone values the data and history on their own house.”
Smart Technology Adds Value to Owners, Too
All panel members agreed on the value of leak detection technology. They agreed the ability to forestall a water-related disaster in a property can save the bottom line on that property. “I would absolutely emphasize water intrusion monitors as a necessity,” said Jeff Adler, Vice President at Yardi Matrix. “It is the non-sexy stuff that will make more impact.”
In addition to home-monitoring and leak detection, panelists mentioned the rising need for smart access to properties. “The key is the access and the locks,” Kimball said. This permits easier, more cost-effective turnover when a tenant’s lease is up.
David Namkoong, an account executive at Rently Keyless, agreed. “They are a low-cost solution that enables an owner to market units as smart-home ready. They allow residents to have an app for access during their lease but allow it to be revoked by management [when the lease is up],” he said.
Jay Roberts, CEO of short-term stay provider Domio, also agreed. Roberts’ company became the first short-term rental operator to be awarded a full hotel license. “You really need the tech to facilitate and manage everything,” he said.