The Not-to-Miss Property Management Tech Trends for 2018
The most important tech trends for property management in 2018 will be centered around easing resident pain points to improve the quality of life within apartment communities. These trends will build upon the technology developed over the past year. While many properties already employ the first iteration of these trends, their growth and implementation will increase greatly in 2018.
In the past, property managers have gotten away with waiting to adopt certain tech trends. But, as technology continues to shape our industry, the longer a property waits to adapt, the costlier it becomes.
With so many trends vying for the attention of property managers, it’s hard to separate the noise from the game changers. With that in mind, here are a few of the property management apps, technologies, and overall trends primed to go mainstream in 2018.
2018 is the year of the app
Forget the year of the dog. For property management, 2018 is the year of the app.
Properties are now learning from apps what they once learned from creating websites. Just as property managers saw the evolution of the website and its impact on their business, the same will soon be true for property management apps. Apps that once started as luxuries will now become necessities.
It’s difficult to imagine a property not having a website, right? Soon it will be difficult to imagine a property not have an app. Though there’s a lot of advice about improving your property management website design, where does a property manager go to find information about app design? Well, we’ve done the legwork for you! Going into 2018, the app is king. Here’s a little of what you should know:
Based off of the evolution of the website, here are some safe bets on what a property management app should feature:
A clean and intuitive navigation
Tools for both prospective and current residents — providing direct marketing exposure to residents and allowing for guest authorization (without a written binder)
Ability to check apartment availability and book tours
Instant messaging for residents to communicate directly with staff
A hub for maintenance requests and emergency alerts
Think of it this way: While all of the features above can make your property more efficient, a property management app takes things a step further by becoming a marketable amenity itself.
Just as residents come to expect physical amenities like communal outdoor space, they will also come to expect a useful, time-saving app. The industry is seeing a shift from physical to service-based amenities and an app will become both a recruiting tool and a selling point. Residents continue to spend a great percentage of time on their smartphones as opposed to their computer. It’s much more effective to reach a resident on a platform they’re using more often.
Getting started with virtual amenities
Just in case you were wondering (we know you were), you don’t need a development team in order to create a great app. Companies that specialize in property app design are great ways to get in on the app game. While your team considers your future user engagement, here are a few of our favorite services that build intuitive property apps.
Intrigued? Here are a few of the property apps they’ve created.
Designed by My Resident Linc.
One last thing to consider, amenities are now laser-focused toward improving the resident experience. Since one of the most painful tasks for residents has always been the moving process, 2018 will see a push toward easing this burden through technology.
We might be biased, but Updater is the only app that benefits site teams as much as their residents. Updater helps streamlines the moving process for residents and saves site teams valuable time when processing these moves. A property management company that’s making the effort to ease the pain of moving is way ahead of the curve. Making this change via technology will help them futureproof their business by staying a step ahead of the competition.
The wave of the smart locker
Tech trends of 2018 will not only focus on software, such as apps, but on physical infrastructure as well. Property managers need to support their tech with smart physical amenities. In the coming year, properties will again face the growing challenge of package deliveries. UPS alone delivered more than 19 millions packages last year and this number is increasing every year.
Smart lockers are a physical solution to an ever-growing issue. They’re an example of how properties will adapt to the age of online shopping. For some properties, deliveries are straightforward, but for gated communities and those with a single drop-off point, lockers have become a necessity. Site teams need a new way to prioritize deliveries.
A digital locker system is an intuitive, marketable amenity. A package goes into a locker, the resident then receives a code and locker number and retrieves the package on their own time. A member of a site team does not need to be present. When the locker is emptied, it is then free to be used for the next delivery.
Smart lockers will coincide with another trend of 2018, the rise of non-traditional deliverers. USPS, FedEx, and UPS are already competing with companies like Uber and Amazon. It’s one thing to coordinate with a seasoned USPS driver, but when packages start arriving by drones, properties need to be prepared.
Amazon has also released a smart home lock system. The lock, featuring a camera and number pad, allows a delivery person to unlock the door using an app on their phone and then leave a package inside. While this is not yet competitive with smart lockers, it’s important to consider if the service proves viable.
Generation Z is near. What will they demand?
The industry has been talking about millennials for years. While they will continue to be a focus in 2018, the next generation — Gen Z — is on the horizon. So, what do millennials and Gen Zers need?
Two major problems millennials face today are building their credit and protecting against fraud. If rental payments are not reported to the credit bureau, they don’t count toward a resident’s credit score. Residents need a reliable way to build their credit and be rewarded for making timely payments on their rent.
Trends are showing that 2018 will have more renters than in 2017 and millennials will make up an even larger portion of that market. Whether renting or buying, millennials and Gen Zers will need to protect themselves from the growing threat of identity theft and credit fraud. This is where property management companies can truly help out their residents in the coming year.
A solution that addresses both of the above concerns are services like Resident-Link. Resident-Link offers fraud protection through credit monitoring and will report resident rental payments to the credit bureaus. So, while it safeguards residents against credit fraud, it also reports their rental payments to assist them in building their credit.
Currently, millennials are more likely to fall victim to tax and fraud scams than senior citizens. With the growing trend of identity theft and fraud, residents are more aware of the problem and will appreciate the added protection offered by their property management company.
New year, new opportunities
Changing technology is nothing new for the property management industry. However, the speed at which technology impacts resident experience is increasing every year.
It’s important for a property to look at the big picture when choosing where to invest. Implementing every new piece of technology doesn’t define a great property management company. What will determine their success, however, is how a company adapts to changing technology. Tech trends will be most beneficial to the properties who understand their value and integrate them intelligently.
Have additional property management technology trends that you are interested in learning about in 2018? Leave your content requests in the comments below!
Ash is the EVP of Real Estate for Updater's Insurance Division. He is responsible for all insurance initiatives and partnerships related to Real Estate. Ash has worked in the Property Management Industry for over 20 years. You'll be hard-pressed to hold a conversation with him without hearing about Updater, Apple, and CrossFit.