This summer real estate software company AppFolio introduced Lisa, a digital assistant designed to take potential apartment tenants through initial questions they might have about a particular apartment or property.  Because it was built using conversational artificial intelligence, Lisa can carry on a simple text-based conversation in real time, not only answering questions but also asking them in order to vet the prospects. It is, to state the obvious, an immense time saver for brokers and property owners. “The immediacy of responses that Lisa provides helps meet prospect expectations and gives time back to leasing agents and property management businesses to focus more on business strategy,” says Elliott Burris, VP at AppFolio.

Lisa, though, is more than a convenience—it also is representative of the great strides apartment tech has made over the last year or so. Perhaps more to the point, Lisa also symbolizes the growing number of tools that multifamily owners now have at their disposal. These tools are not limited to just technology, however. There have been a number of changes, ranging from investment focus to new thinking about demographics to changes in design, that have come online that are changing the way apartment owners and developers conduct business and manage operating expenses.

Apartments, of course, are among the top-performing asset classes; hardly—it would seem—in need of such improvements. Emerging trends, though, may change that narrative as the cycle nears its end. Some product types, such as luxury development, are not so easy to pencil anymore. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are undergoing change as the Trump Administration pushes for their privatization. Affordable housing has become a big focus, not only by developers interested in this product type, but also by voters who are irate about rising rental rates. Already, the resulting rent control measures that are being put in place around the country are starting to have wider ramifications.

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Natalie Dolce

Natalie Dolce, editor-in-chief of and GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum, is responsible for working with editorial staff, freelancers and senior management to help plan the overarching vision that encompasses, including short-term and long-term goals for the website, how content integrates through the company’s other product lines and the overall quality of content. Previously she served as national executive editor and editor of the West Coast region for and Real Estate Forum, and was responsible for coverage of news and information pertaining to that vital real estate region. Prior to moving out to the Southern California office, she was Northeast bureau chief, covering New York City for Her background includes a stint at InStyle Magazine, and as managing editor with New York Press, an alternative weekly New York City paper. In her career, she has also covered a variety of beats for M magazine, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel,, and Co-Ed magazine. Dolce has also freelanced for a number of publications, including and Museums New York magazine.

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