The pandemic did a lot to remind the multifamily sector about the vital importance of property management and residential experience. It also changed attitudes towards technology, as potential tenants have placed a higher priority on smart features in the unit: 86% of millennials and 65% of baby boomers are willing to pay 20% more for a smart apartment.

That’s according to Brivo’s VP of marketing Kerstin Demko, who adds that security and smart or IoT features rank in the top ten of most desired amenities.  It’s an addition that can also benefit the property manager.

“With an increasingly competitive market for finding new tenants and retaining current ones, property managers are striving to enhance the tenant experience with add-on amenities and conveniences,” says Demko. These features can be common-room rentals and gym reservations to smart thermostats. Another big item on the list, with benefits for both tenants and property managers: cloud-based access control.

Better Security Resides in the Cloud

Cloud-based access control, with its convenient remote management capabilities, allows easy integration of daily operational functions, including mobile access, visitor management and delivery scheduling, as well as security features such as video surveillance and alarms. Feature additions, vulnerability patches and other software updates are quick, transparent and seamless with the technology.

Compare this to legacy premises-based systems, which can be clunky, with manual new tenant enrollment and other basic system management duties that can cause delays and higher costs.

Demko points to VITA Residential, a manager of properties in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri. They wanted to integrate property security and smart apartment automation while still working with the company’s existing property management software. With the new cloud-based access control platform, VITA deployed access control panels with cellular capability throughout the properties and implemented real-time video of common areas and access points.

The results? Residents now use a convenient mobile app for property access, smart lighting and other apartment automation features. They pay from $35 to $55 more per month and VITA has realized a 40% return on investment from smart unit technology and rent-price adjustments.

Proptech Makes a Property (and Property Manager) “Smarter”

Apartment owners and managers have long relied on smart features in residential properties to reduce costs and gain efficiencies, an especially “smart” move in today’s inflationary environment. Demko, who lists lighting and thermostat controls, water-use monitors and leak detectors as key money-savers for both lessor and tenant, reports that smart access control commands up to a $33.52 monthly rent premium.

“What we are most excited about is that, with cloud-based access control at its core, building managers and owners are amassing a trove of data that provide amazing, monetizable insights,” Demko added. “For example, data on the number of grocery deliveries and the use of storage space might show that a little-used storage room could be converted into a convenience store that brings in extra rent. Property owners and managers can use this information to enhance the tenant experience and gain efficiencies by analyzing individual facilities, groups of properties or their entire portfolio.”