How Smart Home Technology Can Enhance the Appeal of Your Properties

Written by Posted On Friday, 14 December 2018 08:35

When it comes to home automation technology in rental properties, tenant expectations are rapidly evolving. Around a third of broadband-equipped households in the U.S. currently own at least one connected smart device, and half are planning to purchase a smart home device within a year. Considering that the average adult checks his or her phone every 12 minutes, it is no surprise that renters would want the comfort, convenience, and safety that a smart home offers.

But renters have been left out of the majority of this technological revolution thus far. Property managers and owners have a different set of challenges, and DIY hardware typically provides zero operational benefit or, many times, actually takes property management teams longer to maintain. For example, one brand of connected thermostat requires a factory reset every time a tenant leaves, which can be burdensome for property managers.

Still, there are numerous operational benefits to be gained from installing smart home technology.

Buying Into the Benefits

First of all, you might be wondering whether residents are really willing to pay for this. The answer is yes. A survey from Schlage and Wakefield Research found that 86 percent of Millennials would be willing to pay around one-fifth more for an apartment that includes smart features such as automated devices. Millennials especially want increased security, and 61 percent heavily consider properties with remote or electronic access features including keyless entry.

Millennials aren’t the only ones renting, though. More than 5 million Baby Boomers say they're going to be renting their next home by 2020, and 65 percent of them are willing to pay more for smart home technology.

So why are more people choosing to embrace smart home technology? Safety is one big driver. Keyless locks and doorbell cameras let residents know who is at their front door, control who gets access, and keep track of who was there and when.

Savings is another factor. In fact, the amount of money renters save by using smart home technology often covers a majority of the fee that a property manager might charge for a smart apartment. An apartment generally costs around $2,400 annually to heat, cool, and power, so residents appreciate energy-efficient appliances and smart devices that provide more sustainable housing and decrease these costs by an average of 15 percent, according to our findings.

The technology can also keep tenants in their homes, as well as keep them happier while there. Residents tend to enjoy their smart home, frequently interacting with the app to control things. This frequent engagement makes the app the perfect billboard to send community messages that get residents meeting one another (and make residents want to live in your unit longer). Voice assistants are also great at providing answers to basic questions (like "What time are the pool hours?" or "Where do I log in to pay my rent?"), but when it comes time to repair the kitchen sink, they’re far less useful. Fortunately, smart home technology can also allow renters to remotely let a maintenance technician in while they’re away at work.

For property managers and asset owners, home automation technology can augment your current operation from the very first interaction with prospects by allowing for online scheduling of unattended showings where they can tour a property at their own pace. You can also integrate work orders into new technology, making it easier for residents to have their needs met while removing the cost, hassle, and safety risks of managing mechanical keys.

Don't Wait Until It's Too Late

The coming years will see a significant change in terms of the technology that’s incorporated in the multi-housing market, but don't let that fool you into waiting.

Consumers are already demanding smart home technology as an amenity, and there is a clear ROI for property managers. The increased appeal of properties with smart apartment technology makes it easier to fill vacancies, and these properties command a higher price on the rental market. Still, you don’t want technology to eclipse the personal relationships residents want.

Automation is key in a multi-housing operation, but think of it as a way to augment the personal touch in properties by allowing on-the-ground personnel to do more of the things that make residents happy. Ultimately, a balanced approach to technology incorporation is key to long-term success in the multi-housing industry — one that carefully weighs the effects of various technologies on both resident value and operations value, maximizing your overall ROI.

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Sean Miller

Sean Miller is president of PointCentral, a subsidiary of and the leader in smart automation solutions for long-term and short-term managers of single-family and multi-family rental properties. Outside of having a lifelong passion for technology, Mr. Miller has almost 10 years of professional experience with B2B and B2C IoT/home automation technology, having previously led global sales and business development for Wemo, Belkin’s home automation business unit, and launched Mobile Link, a cellular-based internet connectivity service for generators, at Generac Power Systems.

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