The Next Ten Years in Property Management: Predicting Multifamily Tech in 2028
Chatbots, smart locks, artificial intelligence — HappyCo CEO Jindou Lee breaks down the buzzwords and predicts just where property management tech is heading over the next ten years.
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Just a decade ago, multifamily property managers were wrangling with fax machines, relying on office phones, and resorting to desktop computers just to navigate their day jobs. For the multifamily business leaders of 2008, it was unimaginable to gather apartment applications online or advertise units without physical signs — let alone to conduct inspections from internet-enabled devices that were perfectly palm-sized.
Technology has brought us a long way, but several pain points remain. Scheduling unit inspections and gaining access to apartments (while respecting privacy standards) are largely still manual processes. As online reviews hold more weight than ever, there’s a lot of pressure to get these tasks done quickly. Unfortunately, paper forms make it tough for technicians to have all of the information they need when making the rounds.
Luckily, hope is on the horizon! Considerable strides are being made in AI and machine learning. I predict that in the next ten years, these technologies will be able to automate the most burdensome property management tasks.
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By 2028, I believe chatbots will bear one of your biggest burdens: scheduling inspections. With these AI-powered personal assistants in your corner, coordinating unit visits will go from stressful to seamless.
As multifamily managers know well, this task can be incredibly draining. The best time for a resident might already be booked for a technician. Games of phone tag may go on and on, but it’s critical that multifamily managers respect the rules around privacy and security when it comes to entering an occupied unit. Fortunately, the future is happier!
Enter: chatbots. I believe there’s much to be gained (time and money) if the property management industry follows in the footsteps of companies using meeting assistant AI technology like X.ai or those getting help from Clara to speedily arrange hiring interviews. After conducting years of natural language research, Google is also a key contender in the chatbot arena. As this playful demo proves, virtual assistant Google Duplex manages to “handle the interaction gracefully” when a scheduling phone call faces a curveball.
It might come as a surprise, but chatbots are already being used on business websites in 195 countries; by 2020, they’re expected to support products for 50% of medium to large organizations. Needless to say, this kind of technology could fundamentally improve the multifamily experience. For example, property managers could program the chatbot to ask something like: “when are you available in x-date range for a technician to complete a fire safety inspection?” After securing the resident’s response, the chatbot would then discover the same information from the technician, and boom: the perfect inspection match is made. Should an emergency come up and unravel the chatbot’s efforts, another round of availability requests could follow with ease.
Skeptics in the multifamily business could reasonably worry: “will this chatbot sound anything like a person, let alone my brand voice?” Forbes reports a resounding: “yes!” A recent article notes that chatbots have already grown smart enough to reflect specific corporate cultures (and they’ve been known to imitate a wide range of personalities — from Albert Einstein to “How I Met Your Mother” characters).
Now’s the time to slash your stress and streamline your scheduling by embracing chatbots. Given such rapid advances in machine-learning technology, I’m confident these bots will be plenty savvy by 2028.
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By 2028, I bet the price will finally be right for multifamily managers to start embracing… smart locks! While hotels phased out metal keys decades ago, keycards have never really caught on in multifamily communities. Indifference wasn’t the issue, though — steep costs have simply been too much of a turn-off.
But Fortune suggests a promising trend in smart lock prices. August is just one top seller pushing to lower its operating costs so that smart locks can replace standard keys once and for all. The company has started dropping prices for popular models, and its CEO has grand plans to keep “going bigger, going wider,” expanding August’s scope beyond wealthy urban markets.
Combined with chatbots, this technology would make it much, much easier for multifamily technicians to address major problems quickly. From leaky ceilings to faulty heating, serious concerns could be tackled faster than ever — with chatbots and smart locks ensuring the most efficient path possible from request through repair. As PCMag roundup explains, smart lock administrators can take advantage of a growing range of features like voice activation or geofencing, as well as adding temporary users in a pinch. For multifamily executives, this would spell major savings in time and money, as well as prevent tragedies that can be avoided with timely inspections.
Smart lock technology also marries well with a growing trend in package delivery: direct-to-resident delivery, an option HappyCo has covered in previous blogs. With wifi-enabled smart locks, a resident could ensure an expensive package is delivered inside their unit instead of placed in a vulnerable spot within a bustling mailroom.
Finally, the switch to smart locks would bridge a growing gap between supply and demand. Some 61% of Gen Y-ers say they would rent an apartment precisely for its electronic access features. In fact, when combined with other smart home features like learning thermostats and motion-sensing lights, smart locks will spur ⅕ more in rent from interested residents. Given their potential to boost revenue and maximize convenience, smart locks will definitely be a worthwhile amenity as prices keep dropping.
Now’s the time for multifamily executives to monitor falling smart lock prices and decide the right moment to budget for this worthwhile amenity. There’s no doubt in my mind: with smart locks, the future is happier!
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