Before the pandemic, in-unit smart technologies were considered an amenity, a way for property owners to attract and retain residents and even capture better rents. Three years later, multifamily owners are rapidly integrating new technology tools, finding tremendous operational benefits, like the ability to seamlessly change the locks when transitioning a unit, showing a unit without a property manager present or even simply adjusting the thermostat on a vacant unit.

As multifamily owners push to integrate more smart technology into the apartment experience, Brivo’s senior director of multifamily sales Lee Miller says they should pay heed to two key considerations to get the most out of the investment: ROI and ease of upgrade.

Lee Miller, Senior Director of Multifamily Sales, Brivo

Make Sure the Technology Offers a Return on Investment

Smart building technologies have major benefits for both property managers and tenants, but Miller says that the tool should provide the owner with a financial benefit as well. “The first step is choosing technologies that deliver the best ROI,” says Miller, adding that in particular, a smart building technology should reduce labor, create efficiencies and save on operational costs.

Smart lighting is a great example of a technology with a naturally lower ROI than a smart lock or managed WiFi. While smart lights are a great amenity, they don’t have a significant return because it costs pennies when a light is left on, so there is little trade off. Managed WiFi, on the other hand, can generate monthly revenue, providing a substantial value proposition.

Smart locks also have a higher ROI. They create efficiencies in property management by giving prospective tenants access to the unit without a leasing agent present, providing instant access to maintenance workers, and eliminating the need to change a physical lock when a tenant moves out. By considering the ROI, owners can make the best decisions about which technologies to pursue.

Go With a Cloud-Based Program for Easy Upgrades

Most on-premises systems generally need to be upgraded every five to seven years, which significantly increases the cost of the technology over time. “You want to look at products that are cloud-based, meaning that the smarts are in the cloud rather than on-site on a piece of hardware,” says Miller. “You want a system in place where you don’t have to have somebody out multiple times updating it.”

When an upgrade is available, it happens instantly and seamlessly. Cloud-based with an open API technology like Brivo’s, can update remotely and be integrated with other technologies. “When we come out with a new feature,” he adds. “We make the change within the cloud.”

Using a cloud-based technology insulates the investment by eliminating frequent upgrades or re-installations, creating a future-proof system at a lower investment cost. “If you’re making a majority of those changes within the cloud, you’re not constrained to the hardware on-site,” adds Brivo’s Miller. By investing in cloud-based tools, owners will maximize the value and return of a technology investment.

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