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With Smart Homes, Start with the Locks

Smart home with keyless door

Keyless entry is a good starting point for smart home technology.

Apartment owners are left to navigate a sea of smart home technologies for what will give them the most bang for the buck.

The panelists on the at Bisnow’s Multifamily Annual Conference East agreed that keyless locks currently provide the best return on investment. Vicki Davis, president at Urban Atlantic, calls keyless entry a “no brainer” installation.

Flip Collins, vice president of Diversified, says that apartment owners can get a big band for the buck is with keyless entry that allows residents to access their units through their phones, even though they will still need to issue FOBs. “You are still going to have to have a FOB if your phone goes off,” he says.

But if a resident needs to allow a pet walker, for instance, enter their apartment, keyless access entry will provide a great advantage. And there is one other management benefit. “Key management is a pain,” Collins says.

Matt Greene, vice president of sales and marketing at IOTAS, whose company provides smart homes for renters, sees smart home technology becoming a huge differentiator for apartments. And it is not just new apartments. Out of the work he’s doing, there is a 50/50 split between new communities and existing ones among his clients. Right now, many of those projects are in the Midwest.

For new developments, Greene suggests open floorplans to allow the best connectivity. “A lot of technologies and a lot of signals are wireless,” he says.

If a builder is planning on adding smart home features for a project further down the road, Murray cautions them to be flexible because preferences can change fast. “We went from putting in iPhone docks to speakers that iPhone’s can pair with,” he says. “Now everyone has wireless speakers. That all changed in about six months.”

While technology moves fast, some developers are still trying to stay ahead of the curve.

“There is a building in Canada installing drone landing pads,” Greene says.