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Smart-Home and Monitoring Devices Among Tech Priorities

2018 Tech Priorities
March 2018

One company is looking at ways to offer different smart-home packages at its A and B communities.

Pensam Residential has been offering smart-home features to its residents for a little while now, but in 2018, it plans to dive even deeper into that market.

“The expansion of the program is being driven by strong demand for integrated, smart-home solutions,” says Meggan Shaw-Butler, Pensam’s Vice President of Asset Management. “We are looking to take a step beyond the ‘entry level’ smart-tech solution of thermostat, locks and lights and expand packages to include video, security and voice-control via Google Home and Google Home Mini.”

Tiered Pricing for Smart Options

Pensam is not just eyeing the expansion of its smart-home program in the year ahead. The Miami-based apartment owner plans to create tiered smart-home packages for the various product types (A, B+, B) within its portfolio. 

Pensam will install “larger, more encompassing technology solutions,” such as thermostats, lights, door locks, USB outlets, cameras and voice control solutions at Class A communities.

“These features necessitate larger premiums to offset upfront product costs,” Shaw-Butler says. “These larger premiums tend to be well-received and accepted by this renter base.”

For residents in its B and B-plus assets, Pensam will offer thermostats, door locks and USB outlets, which require smaller rental premiums.

“Our goal is to provide all renters with easy access to connected-home technology,” Shaw-Butler says.

Pensam is not alone. Smart home features are a big priority for many owners this year, even smaller ones. Legacy Community Housing’s Brent Sobol is looking at smart-home features that can save money, such as intelligent thermostats and LED lights.

Gidi Cohen, founder and CEO of CGI Strategies, a multifamily investor and developer based in Los Angeles, is also keeping a close eye on smart-home technology.

“We are constantly assessing these tools to create more ease and convenience for our residents and to be more energy efficient and environmentally responsible with the use of Nest or EV stations at our communities,” he says.

Business Intelligence Gets Smarter

Connected devices are not the only tech priority for apartment owners. TruAmerica MultiFamily began using business intelligence in its platform in 2017 and plans to continue to expand it this year.

“We have a tool that gives us the ability to analyze in real time the performance of our assets and helps us make critical decisions, much faster,” says Lynn Owen, COO, TruAmerica. “We now have a complete picture of our portfolio performance. We can find the inefficiencies where we may never have even known they existed previously.”

Surveillance Tech is a Priority

For Sobol, technology offers a way to combat crime and save on energy and maintenance costs. He lists drones, surveillance cameras, security guard check-in stations, digital locks, metal heat barriers for attics, ultra-low-flow toilets and digital work order management as priorities in the year ahead.

Darby Development is working to improve its customer service by recording its employee calls and adding a feature where residents can text to its landline, giving them a way to communicate without talking on the phone.

“[Residents and prospects] can text the numbers they use to call our properties just like they text everyone else in their contacts lists,” says Victoria Cowart, CPM, Vice President of Property Management at Darby Development.

This proves that even one of the oldest technologies around—landline phones— can be improved on by using innovative technology.