Proptech Musts

So, you’ve decided to invest in more robust property management software to navigate the challenges of remote work and social distancing. One look around the proptech marketplace reveals that there are dozens of options available, many of which seem to offer similar services. With so many options on the market, what should you look for? Discover five key features to look for when choosing property management software. Truly seamless integration There are plenty of property management systems that are compatible with ancillary services by a different brand. There are, however, a few problems with integration between different brands and different platforms: Primarily, there is no guarantee of long-term integration. When you’re dealing with two separate companies, there are opportunities for acquisitions and other changes that may affect long-term compatibility and availability of either product. Secondly, there are two software systems that need regular updates. That means more maintenance and headaches for your staff. When those systems are updated, you can only hope that they will update in unison. If not, you may experience delays, lose functionality or accuracy. That’s wasted time for your staff and potentially costly errors for you. Seamless integration occurs when both the property management software and ancillary products function on a single platform by a single company. With seamless integration, you can ensure optimal efficiency in the long-term with less work for your staff to keep products in sync. Mobile ready and browser agnostic A web-based property management solution is essential as organizations honor social distancing protocols. Web-based and mobile-ready software allows you and your team to work without being tethered to the leasing office. When working from home, out in the field or travelling, you can securely access the information you need. Your office staff will be empowered to...

COVID Communication

For the loved ones of residents in senior living, concerns about the coronavirus have not yet abated, even as states reopen and life gradually returns to “normal.” Residents in communities are at a higher risk for COVID, and restrictions on visits remain in place to protect them. So it’s not hard to see why family members would want transparency from senior living providers. Has anyone there caught it? What protocols are in place to help? How is everyone holding up? Since the start of the outbreak, dozens of states have instituted reporting guidelines that require assisted living and skilled nursing facilities to report their COVID numbers to public health authorities. But some states have gone even further by asking providers to share those same numbers with the family members directly on a daily basis. Of course, many providers have already taken great steps to expand their communications. They’ve added FAQs to their website, posted notices to their online resident portal, and have sent plenty of emails to loved ones, residents, staff and vendors. At Yardi, we’ve had clients reach out for help setting up email campaigns like these, so we’ve put together a quick tutorial video that covers how you can create emails that can be sent in bulk to a customized list of contacts. Senior living email correspondence in Yardi Both Yardi Voyager Senior Housing and RENTCafé Senior CRM offer email correspondence. Whichever you choose to use, you can leverage templates to pull in information like the recipient’s first name, today’s date and facility name from your database. That way, you can easily customize your emails in bulk. The video will walk you through how you can choose your information categories, format your text and then filter your contact list. It also explains...

Aspiring to New Heights...

This is an exciting time for the team behind Yardi’s learning management software platform. Formerly known as Yardi eLearning, the product is now called Yardi Aspire, a name which showcases the software’s potentially exceptional benefits for users. At the same time, the features of Yardi Aspire have increased in demand as clients find creative uses for the software to solve 2020’s unique challenges At the helm of the Yardi Aspire team is Patty Evans, director of Yardi Aspire content and support and Yardi corporate training, as well as Yves Hajjar, director of Yardi Aspire product development. Read on to learn more about Evans’ outlook on the recent product changes. Q: Tell us about the change to Yardi Aspire? Evans: Yardi Aspire has evolved over the past several years. It was time for the product’s name to truly reflect the scope of the solution, including all the forward-thinking features designed specifically for the property management industry’s leading learning and content management system. Q: Describe the recent developments that led to the rebrand? Evans: The Yardi Aspire catalog inspires a higher level of engagement than simple “training” videos. We feel that videos can be helpful in quickly transferring information to a student who is already familiar with a concept or for basic topics. I think many would agree when I say that video-based training is a learning style that may not work for everyone. Additionally, the Yardi Aspire catalog contains much more than Yardi software product training content. Approximately 25% of the 1,200+ course library is not about Yardi software at all. We offer nearly 400 courses on compliance, human resources, professional development, safety, leadership, leasing, personal development topics and more. Q: What other features may be important for new users? Evans: We’ve spent time carefully...

Rollouts That Rock

For senior living communities, rolling out a new system interface is no simple feat, especially for a service as crucial as electronic medication management. And when you consider that pharmacy partners must be involved too, it’s not hard to see why implementations are often tricky. But that doesn’t mean they can’t go smoothly. Our Yardi eMAR team has years of hands-on experience in software implementation and building close relationships with both community and pharmacy staff. Where other software vendors may cut the pharmacy out of the process, we prefer to show caregivers how things work with a representative from the pharmacy right there with us. Implementation collaboration We’ve found that bringing everyone on site for the initial implementation helps the communities and pharmacies understand the workflow better. Since they can walk through the processes together, they get a clearer view of how the other side handles a medication order. Of course, if issues crop up down the road, we’re always happy to help out. “Yardi is always extremely responsive. I get answers very quickly and action very quickly,” said Taylor Smalling, manager of account support and enterprise projects at Guardian Pharmacy Services. “That enhances the quality of the relationship and helps build trust.” Guardian, the nation’s third-largest long-term care pharmacy, is part of the Yardi Pharmacy Network. We’ve integrated their pharmacy software with Yardi eMAR for real-time medication information sharing and automated prescription fulfillment. So when it comes time to implement the interface at a new community, the setup is much simpler. “With Yardi, we are usually in touch with one or two people. We can work with them directly to get all of the interface components set up,” said Taylor. “It’s a really efficient process, and I think it pulls in the right...

Foldable Phones

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold was first introduced in London last year during the company’s Unpacked event as being one of Samsung’s most innovative designs in years. Since then, the company has released a newer folding phone called Galaxy Z Flip and reviews say that it tops the previews Fold version. The $1,380 device has a plus compared to the Galaxy Fold: it can fit into your pocket when closed, which wasn’t the case with last year’s released. The Z Flip opens vertically and revels a 6.7-inch screen with a layer of ultra-thin glass. Galaxy Z Flip Design This phone design brings us back to the memory lane when the old flip phones where stylish and everybody wanted one, except this is a way more modern and technology-advanced version of the old one. Samsung says the phone can flip open to up to 200,000 times, which makes it a pretty durable device. Another thing that the company has learned from its mistakes made with Galaxy Fold is that for this device they designed a thin layer of fabric that makes sure that dust particles don’t go between the gap that exist between screen and hinge, which was a problem for the original Galaxy Fold. On the phone’s exterior there is a 1.1-inch SUPER AMOLED screen that show you incoming calls, texts and alarms. It also displays the date and time, so you don’t have to flip it every time you need to see what time it is. Additionally, there is a mini-view finder with which you can take selfies the Z Flip is closed. To do that, you just need to press the power button twice to summon up the viewfinder and then hit one of the volume buttons to take the picture. This is a...

Interface Excellence

Change isn’t easy, especially when it comes to daily drivers like an eMAR. Habits are formed. Workarounds are found. And business as usual continues, even when new solutions offer better ways to get the job done. Take it from Ed Mason, director of technology and general operations for Mercury Pharmacy. “People don’t like change a whole lot. They just want to get through their lives and not have to worry about extra stuff. And that’s the hardest thing you fight. You have to have the mindset that this change is good.” With over a decade of experience in rolling out eMAR interfaces, Ed has seen their progression from products that required special equipment to services that only need a web browser. Ed was also an early adopter of ALMSA, the care technology that Yardi eMAR is built on. “Back then, ALMSA was the first of everything. It was the first real time, the first online, the first automatic update. It was really cool. I was just sticking ALMSA in every community.” Having set up eMAR systems so many times, he now knows the best way to approach change. When an implementation is underway, he tries to make time to get out to the site. He’s involved from the start to act as a resource and help the community get trained. This productive collaboration extends to his partnership with Yardi. At Mercury Pharmacy, which serves over 6,000 active residents in Washington state, Ed works closely with our implementation team to roll out Yardi eMAR. “What I like about the Yardi implementations is that you actually have trainers go on site to do it. With other eMAR vendors, most of it is done over the web,” Ed said. “Yardi spends a little more time training people,...

Moving to Mobile

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted many changes in daily life, among them how we make routine purchases and conduct retail transactions. The desire for contactless point of sale is greater than ever. Hence the uptick in popularity for digital wallet transactions. Better known as e-wallets, this type of transaction lets you pay by tapping your phone or by scanning a QR code. The money will then be deducted directly from your bank account or from an e-wallet’s balance. According to Visa, in the U.S. contactless transactions for grocery and pharmacy have grown more than 100 percent year-over-year with 31 million Americans using a Visa contactless card or digital wallet in March 2020. Overall contactless usage in U.S. was up 150 percent since March 2019. Most Popular Mobile Apps The rise of mobile payment begun in 2014 when Apple Pay hit the market, being the only major mobile wallet on the market. Since then, mobile wallets have flooded the market with many companies introducing digital payment including Venmo, Samsung Pay, Chase Pay, Android Pay, Microsoft Wallet, Walmart Pay and Square Wallet among others. Many apps are default choices depending on which phone you have and the features are much the same on each app meaning that you can download the app for free, upload your credit or debit card and tap to pay with your phone at  retailers that accept the service. Regarding to security reasons, companies ensure customers that mobile payments are a more secure method than using a physical card for many reasons. First, merchants won’t see your name, credit card number or the authorization code from the back of the card and second, mobile wallets are protected by a lock screen, requiring a PIN number or fingerprint authentication to use. There are...

Rent Deferral Technology

With most states issuing stay-at-home orders and more than 10 million Americans filing for unemployment in March, many residential property managers are finding themselves in a challenging position during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than ever, their renters need to stay in their apartments, but they may not be able to afford rent. How can property managers help residents who have been financially impacted by the global coronavirus health crisis — without jeopardizing their operations? With input from its clients, Yardi came up with a solution. Introducing new rent deferral & recovery tech One way to provide resident assistance during tough economic times is rent deferment. Rent deferment is the practice of partially or completely postponing payments for a period of time. The deferred amount is recovered later, when the situation improves. Faced with an urgent and overwhelming need for technology capable of handling deferrals on a large scale, the Yardi development team sprang into action and created a solution for its clients in under two weeks. “With the number of unemployment claims skyrocketing, our clients reached out to us for help accommodating residents who have been financially impacted by COVID-19,” said Tamara Berndt, vice president of residential consulting practices at Yardi. “So we created software that’s able to manage and track resident requests, deferrals and recovered payments.” This new technology will be rolled out to clients before May rents are due. How it works At a resident’s request, a rent deferral and recovery payment plan can be set up in Voyager or RENTCafé CRM. The property management company can record the reason for the deferral as well as the amount that is being deferred and for how long, then set a recovery period start date and duration. The program will automatically spread the total deferred amount over the recovery period. Once the rent deferral agreement is signed and posted, lease charges will be automatically created each month with the deferred amounts and recovery charges as appropriate. Gross potential rent is not impacted, and all records are maintained in a clear and organized fashion. Documents related to the deferral, including proof of furlough or layoff and the repayment plan agreement, are stored in the resident record. If a property uses the RENTCafé resident portal, the process is easy for residents seeking accommodation. They can log in and upload proof of layoff or furlough documents. Once a payment plan is authorized, a signature document is delivered through the portal. All leaseholders can electronically sign and submit the agreement. Everything is done online or in the RENTCafé Resident app to maintain social distancing. The property management company also has an option to post an announcement of its rent deferment program in the portal. Clients who don’t use RENTCafé are still able to complete this process completely online, but residents will have to submit supporting documents and signed agreements via email instead. Who can use it The new rent deferral and recovery payment plan technology is available to residential clients, including multifamily, single family, affordable and military properties. A rent deferral solution for commercial property management clients will also be available in the near future. Deferment tracking The solution currently has two reports available to help track deferred rents and recovered payments. A listing report shows which residents are on a payment plan, and a repayment report displays recovery payment progress. Additional reports will be added in future releases. Learn more Join a rent deferral webinar, log into Client Central to watch the recording or contact...

Data-Driven Insights

Want to learn how to create digital content that engages professional learners? The first step is to understand the preferences and habits of adult learners. The 2019 BrightTALK Benchmarks report analyzes data on webinars, online courses, videos and other digital modalities to explore how professionals engage with content. How do professionals engage with content and when? More than 77% of those surveyed spend 2 or more hours per week on professional growth. Nearly 55% engage with webinars regularly, with 6% watching daily, more than 48% watching weekly, and more than 31% watching webinars monthly. Though 91% of respondents opt for webinars, other educational formats performed well. About 68% got information from short videos, 60% from articles, and 54% online courses. The ability to view content on demand was the highest ranked format feature, followed by the ability to watch a recording later. Professionals preferred to engage with live content hosted at 8am in Europe and North America. Though mornings were also popular in the APAC region, afternoons performed equally as well. Weekday events performed consistently well worldwide. Viewers in North America favored Tuesday and Thursday slightly more than other weekdays. Understanding the most favorable times to host live events helps growing organizations successfully schedule content. Discover how Roscoe Properties uses eLearning to onboard new employees during periods of rapid growth. What do professionals value in content? Professionals access digital content for a variety of reasons, but four categories attracted the broadest range of participants.  About 80% of respondents accessed online content to acquire a new body of knowledge or skills followed by 78% who desired to improve their quality of the work. Tips, tricks, and best practices caught the interest of 70% of respondents and industry trends and predictions interested 62% of them. When...

Talking Technology

Before smart buildings and smart cities can become a reality, the real estate sector must focus on smart processes – and that means automating property management services still tracked on paper. Technology has the potential to enhance transparency and trust between property owners, tenants and vendors, but many property companies are “still figuring out how to take a simple service request on a clipboard and track its progress,” says Bernie Devine, regional director of Asia Pacific for Yardi. Devine has worked at the intersection of property and technology for three decades, and for the last six years with Yardi. “When I first started in real estate, most people operated from spreadsheets or, worse, paper. Today, I’m still talking to clients who manage their workflows on pieces of paper and others who turn to the Yellow Pages for procurement,” he says. This isn’t just inefficient. “Without automated processes we don’t have data. And that’s the bottom line – because without data we can’t make informed decisions.” Yardi’s VendorCafe, for instance, centralises product and service vendor information into a single system of record, reducing paper, speeding up invoicing, automating the onboarding process for vendors and, ultimately, cutting costs. “An automated system means tenants can report a problem in a few clicks, have the request reviewed and resources allocated from a list of pre-qualified vendors,” Devine explains. “Our system addresses the entire lifecycle of procurement, from vendor selection and onboarding through to compliance and tracking warrantees. You don’t need an army of procurement people – you just need a portal that is easy for everyone to use. “The customer knows what’s going on each step of the way, and that gives them comfort, even when there are delays.” Vendors gain real-time visibility of purchase orders and work orders...

Smart SMS Marketing

You know how the stereotype goes. “Older people don’t use technology.” “Smartphones are too complicated for seniors.” “A flyer or a phone call is the only option.” Reality, as it turns out, begs to differ. According to an AARP survey, over 90 percent of older adults use technology to stay connected. And among those surveyed, text messaging has overtaken email as the method of choice for communication — 86% say they regularly text with friends and family. Clearly, today’s seniors are on board the technology bandwagon. The question now is, are your senior living sales counselors on board as well? SMS text messaging for senior living marketing is not new, but it’s quickly growing in prominence as more and more providers recognize its effectiveness. Text messages have open rates as high as 98%, while emails hover around 20%. If you’re not texting your prospective residents, you’re missing real opportunities to connect. But before you dive in and start sending texts left and right, take note. There are laws in place that regulate what’s allowed, and some property management businesses have already landed themselves in hot water. What’s the law on SMS text messaging for marketing? The Telephone Consumer Protection Act protects people from unwanted communications from any business. That means service providers must receive prior express written consent before cold calling or texting. And they can’t make agreeing to receive these marketing messages a condition for moving in or otherwise purchasing services. So how do you stay on the right side of the law? How do you ensure you’ve gotten permission from your senior living prospects to send them marketing texts? SMS text messaging in Yardi Senior CRM Yardi Senior CRM helps senior living providers manage their entire sales and marketing process — including...

Mobile Branding Matters

Take a guess. How much time do you spend on your phone every day? Add up all those downward glances, text replies, phone calls and photo filters. If you’re like the average American, you spend 5.4 hours on your smartphone. And if you’re like me, that’s way more than you expected. Those numbers come from a recent study asked 2,000 smartphone users to check their phone settings and report their screen time. Not only did the study reveal just how attached we all are to our devices, but it showed that usage across generations is similar. Millennials spend only a little bit more time on smartphones (5.7 hours) than baby boomers do (5 hours). Over 50 times a day, we’re checking our phones. This year, Gartner anticipates that there will be over 20 billion connected devices. Just imagine how much more dependent we’ll be as these tools continue to pervade our homes and habits. Smart devices have led to incredible innovations, and they’re changing our lives like very few other communication technologies have before. By far one of the biggest differences is the way we interact with businesses. Why grab your car keys or dial a support line when the services you want are available at your fingertips in a mobile app? We now spend about 90% of our smartphone time in apps. Remember, that’s hours of every day. So for businesses looking to stay competitive, your mobile presence has to be top-notch. Of course, that goes for multifamily businesses too. You’ve spent so much time and money defining your brand strategy and designing your physical properties. Shouldn’t your mobile apps match? Put your brand in the palm of your residents’ hands Your residents are on mobile, so you should be too. Take advantage of this opportunity to connect with residents in the channels they prefer. “But wait,” you might say. “What about our company website? Doesn’t that work on mobile too? Why do we need an app?” Mobile websites are a valuable resource, but they can’t do everything a native mobile app can. Your mobile website is most often a shrunken version of the desktop website, accessible only from a browser and unable to offer a unique user experience or leverage phone capabilities like GPS, cameras or notifications. To top it off, consumers simply prefer mobile apps – by a large margin. One report suggests up to 85% of people prefer apps over mobile sites. Why? Convenience, speed and ease of browsing. It’s not just a matter of preference either. Apps have shown practical results as well. The conversion rate for apps is more than three times higher than on mobile websites. And if the app is poorly designed, 55% of people say it’d put them off using a company’s products or services, and nearly as many would be less likely to recommend the company to others. Clearly, your mobile app experience matters. It’s why we’re excited to introduce MyCafé by RENTCafé. The new white label mobile app for residents helps you promote your brand on the devices they use every day. Build awareness for your business and offer residents the convenience they expect in an app you own. You can brand the look and feel of the entire experience: Pick an app name that renters recognize Select colors to reflect your brand Feature images of your own properties Upload an icon that stands out Customize menu options to fit your needs MyCafé has the same powerful and popular features that are built into our standard RENTCafé Resident app. Your renters can submit maintenance requests, make online payments, reserve amenities, interact with neighbors and more, all from their smartphone. And your property managers have the ability to offer lease renewals and electronic signatures on the go, with push notifications to let residents know when action is needed. If your property already uses RENTCafé Resident, you won’t have to...

Senior Tech at CES

Early January is a special time of the year for the technology-inclined. Tens of thousands flock to Las Vegas for four days to feast their eyes on the latest inventions and innovations at CES. There were over 4,500 exhibitors clamoring for attention this year. But hidden among them were a surprisingly large number of vendors who’ve turned their attention to one of the biggest changes of the coming decade – our aging population. The vast majority of seniors prefer to age in place, staying in their homes as long as possible. But just as many underestimate how much support they will need as they grow older. Currently, only one-third believe they will eventually need long-term care services, but the actual rate is near 70%. To add another misconception to the pile, many seniors believe that Medicare will cover them in these cases. But Medicare, as it exists now, provides for skilled medical care — think hospital stays and rehab. Though there have been some motions in the Medicare Advantage space to accommodate long-term services and supports, many of tomorrow’s seniors are likely to be underprepared for the costs of growing older. Which is why we’re thrilled that more and more technology developers are focusing on senior living and creating unique ways to help. Here are five of our favorites from CES 2020 for upcoming technology with the potential to change the way we age. A robot ball that recognizes falls If you’ve watched any of the new Stars Wars films, you can see where the inspiration for Samsung’s new creation might have come from. Called Ballie, this palm-sized rolling robot can follow its owner around the home, communicating with other smart devices, interacting with household pets and — most useful for caregivers — keeping...

In Renters’ Wallets...

We’ve all heard that renters are interested in smart home devices. How much are they willing to pay for them, though? We dive into the 2020 National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) & Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Survey to find out. What renters value is determined by how much they are willing to pay. The Resident Preferences Survey set out to put a monthly price on smart home features that renters crave. Nearly 373,000 renters living in 5,336 communities across the U.S. submitted their opinions on desired gadgets and pricing. The 2020 report is the largest compilation of apartment resident insights to date. Let’s take a look at which smart home features are most valuable to renters. Most Valued Smart Home Features All valuable smart home gadgets are connected to the internet of things (IoT). It takes more than internet connection for renters to value a gadget. The survey reveals that the most valuable smart home features are those that offer a combination of benefits in a single gadget. One of the most valuable smart home features makes the unit more comfortable, functional, and healthy. Survey respondents are willing to pay $36 for smart or dynamic glass. The technology helps to moderate indoor temperatures. It also reduces glare on display surfaces like televisions and tablets. Additionally, the dynamic glass promotes better health by blocking harmful light rays from the sun. Smart locks are the second most valuable. This product also multitasks: it offers the convenience of keyless entry as well as a layer of security. Most smartphones are protected with face recognition, fingerprint scanners, or PINs. An authorized user must be present to unlock the phone and then use an app on the smartphone to manage the lock to the unit. Renters are willing to...

How PHAs Simplify and Save

Public housing agencies are among the busiest organizations in the residential property management industry. There’s a lot going on. Most PHAs have thousands of names on their waiting lists. As names come up for consideration, staff faces hours of detailed work to ensure that that applicants qualify for housing assistance. Once applicants become residents, PHAs and the private landlords participating in their programs are responsible for all the normal property management duties associated with multifamily housing. To top it all off, PHAs are required to continuously report to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, as well as other state and local government offices, for compliance purposes. Luckily, there’s an app for PHAs that streamlines each of these workflows. RENTCafé PHA is a unique solution available only to Yardi clients. By modernizing the way PHAs work with stakeholders, most every stakeholder group benefits. Here’s how. Prospects: RENTCafé PHA simplifies how an agency can open its waiting list for new names. The typical frenzy of activity that happens when an agency accepts new names is mitigated since people can join a waiting list online, and without having to turn in a stack of paperwork. RENTCafé PHA even offers automated solutions for agencies to periodically purge their waiting list without the need to mail thousands of notices and enter data returned in the mail. Instead, waitlisted households receive an electronic notice that it’s time to confirm their waiting list status. They can simply go online to quickly save their spot on the waiting list or opt out of consideration for assistance. Applicants: Nearly 800 housing applications were created in RENTCafé PHA every day in 2019. And contrary to traditional methods of applying for housing, applications in RENTCafé PHA are paperless. That’s nearly 300,000 stacks of paper potentially saved in 2019 alone. Another break from tradition is that applicants can work on their submissions when it fits their schedule. There’s no need to set an appointment during PHA office hours. In 2019, 42% of applications were completed after 5 p.m. and before 8 a.m. The convenience of 24/7 access from any connected device saves applicants from visiting the PHA during office hours, a bonus for both applicants and PHA staff. Landlords: Most any rental unit in town can be part of a public housing agency program if the landlord accepts PHA vouchers to supplement rent paid by the resident. Private landlords who decide to participate require access to forms to report back to the PHA on activities such as rent collected, maintenance work completed, move-outs, etc. With RENTCafé PHA, landlords can do this work from their private computers or handheld devices. There’s no need to mail or fax paperwork to the agency, which saves a lot of time and money. Residents: Modern multifamily housing providers offer residents the ability to go online to pay rent, make repair requests, schedule inspections and more. PHAs are no different. Households that qualify for housing with RENTCafé PHA continue to use the solution once they move into a unit. It’s simply a matter of adding resident functions to their already existing RENTCafé PHA profile. Compliance staff: Every resident and participant in a PHA housing program must qualify for assistance. There’s a lot of work involved, and a lot of personal data that must be collected, submitted and verified. RENTCafé PHA makes compliance easier and faster by connecting PHA staff with applicants and residents. Households can securely submit their data online, as well as images of backup documentation, directly to PHA compliance workers. Insecure and inefficient methods such as photocopying legal documents and storing private personal information in file cabinets are taken out of the process. Staff can even use RENTCafé PHA to securely communicate with applicant employers, schools and former landlords to verify the accuracy of submitted information. Learn more about RENTCafé PHA by downloading Five Steps to Revolutionize PHA Applications & Compliance Workflows, a...

Rise of the Digital Assistant

Google anticipates that there are more than 20 billion devices connected to the internet of things and the digital assistants that manage it. This increase in connectivity has a dramatic impact on how people interact with their living spaces. Forward-thinking multifamily firms are capitalizing on the new technology and getting ahead of the curve. Renters + Their Digital Roommates Digital assistants like Alexa have become endeared members of American households. They wake us up in the morning and get us started with a pot of coffee. They play our favorite songs while we’re getting dressed and tell us when it’s time to take the kids to school. They also tell us jokes when we’re bored. (Fun fact: Alexa told over 100 million jokes in 2018.) Always cheerful and increasingly helpful, digital assistants have rapidly grown in popularity. About 16 percent of Americans own a smart speaker, which is quite impressive considering that the technology is only four years old. As of January 2019, Amazon sold more than 100 million devices with Alexa onboard, including 28,000 smart home devices from 4,500 different brands. Alexa speaks seven languages and added new customized user experiences for residents of Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Spain and Mexico. She offers 70,000 skills to make daily life more convenient. CNET reports that owners are so satisfied with her performance that the number of households with multiple Echo devices doubled in 2018. Digital assistants and smart home technology are here to stay. The value that they can add to the resident experience makes them a worthy investment for multifamily properties. Optimize Rent Lift with Digital Assistants Renters are among the millions of people who use digital assistants daily. Demand drives the trend of integrating smart home technology into multifamily properties: the 2019 Multi-Res Tenant preference survey, sponsored by Yardi, showed 31 percent of renters prefer a home with automation amenities. Smart home technology is now a competitive differentiator that bolsters revenue and NOI. “Residents equate efficiency with quality,” said Masa Hoshino, product manager at Yardi. “Prospects and residents increasingly care about convenience and experience. Integrating smart home technology is a tool for sales and retention.” The RENTCafé Resident Services Alexa Skill expands the value of digital assistants for renters. The program customizes the convenience of home automation to the multifamily lifestyle. After securely linking their account, renters can issue commands like, “Alexa, open RENTCafé,” and complete tasks such as “Alexa, ask RENTCafé to pay my rent.” Watch the RENTCafé Resident Services Alexa Skill video to learn more. This service enhances how renters already use digital assistants. Thermostats, lights, locks and security monitors are just a few of the popular smart home features that residents already value. Residents can control these features via apps and voice commands. “The demand for smart apartments is increasing,” said Patrick Lawler, director of product development at Yardi. “This Alexa skill helps property management businesses stay competitive by offering convenient and intuitive resident service options. Renters can ask Alexa to handle important tasks for them, without having to sit down at the computer or place a phone call.” Read more about RENTCafé Resident Services Skill for Alexa. The future is bright for smart home technology. Global News Wire reports that the global smart-home-as-a-service market is forecasted to bring in about US$ 10.9 B in revenue by the end of 2025. Renter adoption rates continue to climb, motivating many multifamily firms to offer digital assistants as move-in...

Connection vs. Safety...

To remain competitive, real estate providers face pressure to provide high speed internet. This pressure is felt throughout all property classes, from subsidized to luxury housing and commercial properties. Yet the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is pushing back against signal boosters that pose a threat to public safety. The story is currently unfolding. Here is what we know: What is DAS? Broadband signal boosters are proving to be a benefit for multi-tenant real estate owners and a danger to FCC operations. Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are one of the most common boosters. They are a network of separated antenna nodes connected to a single source that enhances wireless service within a geographic area or structure. DAS helps to provide high-speed internet in areas where infrastructure is unfavorable for any number of reasons. Such fixed wireless technology has relatively little capital expenditure for ownership. No street-level digging is required. But like its pricier fiber optics competition, it offers a wide range of broadband transmission capabilities. The challenges for real estate providers Real estate providers turn to DAS to improve internet accessibility and performance for renters and tenants. Renters demand high speed internet, and the demand shows no signs of slowing down. According to the National Multifamily Housing Council Resident Preference survey, 93% of renters rate reliable cellphone reception as a top interest.  About 55% of respondents view high-speed internet as a necessity. Additionally, 74% of renters are interested in community Wi-Fi. In the multi-tenant commercial environment, broadband connectivity is among the top three features that tenants require, reports the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International and the Urban Land Institute. Broadband connectivity is standard in new construction, and more than 50 percent of existing construction is retrofitted in some way to accommodate the technology,...

Personal Digital Identity...

In a world where online banking, social media, e-commerce and other online services are a constant part of daily life, a verified digital identity is an important validation of one’s official existence. In 2016, an estimated 1.5 billion people globally could not access routine banking services because of the inability to prove their identity with a valid birth certificate, passport, proof of residency or other commonly accepted means. Use of a digital identity is a way of authenticating the “real you” when utilizing digital connections like the internet. Access via biometrics With technology’s sprint into the future, various new ID schemes have been launched or initiated all over the world. Some include biometrics, mainly in the form of fingerprints. The newest form of biometric identification is face recognition. One such example is PopID, which offers a cloud-based platform that enables consumers to authenticate their identity by using facial recognition. PopID’s latest launch is a platform that can unlock workplace doors and enables employees to enter the building using only their face. The system can also provide building and facility managers with alerts about tailgaters following authorized users into a secure location without installing any additional equipment. Unlocking doors has moved from old-fashioned keys to magnetic key cards or mobile devices, and now face recognition looms as the next normal. Tech savvy building managers can replace key card readers with facial readers. If employees don’t want to use biometrics to authenticate, this program also accepts key cards and mobile devices to unlock the doors. Additionally, building managers can designate authorized employees and hours in which you can enter the property. Secure digital identification Digital driver’s licenses are a secure version of your official government ID in your smartphone. There is a new project known as...

Simplify Social Housing...

Social housing providers in Ontario strive to improve efficiencies and remain compliant while providing the best outcomes for residents and their communities. As non-profit organizations, achieving those goals on limited resources can be tough. But with innovative software, achieving success in social housing management is revolutionized.  Yardi Voyager Social Housing leverages tried-and-true best practices to offer secure and powerful software with a single, integrated database. Intuitive workflows, convenient automation, and industry-specific tools make subsidized housing management simpler. Voyager Social Housing empowers providers to save time, save money, and thrive. Empower Staff for Success Staff efficiency is essential to success in social housing. Peter Altobelli, vice president and general manager of Yardi Canada explains, “Yardi understands the demands and changes within this industry. ONPHA serves more than 700 non-profit housing providers over 400,000 people in 163,000 homes within Ontario. It’s important work and they’re doing a great job, but turnover is high and resources are limited for providers.” To make the most of available resources, Voyager Social Housing facilitates optimal operation of Canada’s non-profit housing. In addition to robust accounting tools, Voyager Social Housing helps manage RGI (rent-geared-to-income) reviews, Rent Supplement programs and facilities management. The cloud-based software equips staff members with the fundamental tools needed to work confidently and efficiently in the office and offsite. With the integrated general ledger, staff avoids repetitive data entry and costly errors. Streamlined workflows make it easier to obtain consistency, reduce inaccuracies and coordinate efforts among team members. Staying compliant is also simplified with easy-to-follow workflows. With redundancy and discord minimized, staff is free to focus on more critical tasks. Simplifying Rent Voyager Social Housing offers features that simplify RGI reviews: Provincial requirements can be readily updated in Voyager, making it easier to calculate rents using the most...

Caregivers Cut Off

As technology advances, crime keeps pace. Modern lawbreakers can now hold lives hostage from afar. It’s all because of type of malicious software called ransomware. These programs are designed to lock down computers and data until a monetary demand is paid. When these viruses first cropped up, they generally targeted users indiscriminately by casting a wide net of spam emails and infected links, waiting for an unsuspecting web surfer to bite. Your computer would freeze, or your data would disappear under encryption, and you’d be treated to a pop-up asking you to pay up. But cyber criminals have gotten more sophisticated with their methodology just as the technology itself has evolved. These hackers now increasingly target health care organizations for their vast wealth of confidential medical records, which can be sold on the dark web for up to $1,000 each. At the same time, the attackers can deny access to the health care organization’s systems, including their electronic health records and medical administration solutions. This can have huge consequences for caregiving. Since most health organizations now rely on tablet-based charts, staff are left without medical histories and care plans to ensure proper treatment, putting their patients’ lives at risk. Long-term care under attack Hospitals aren’t the only care facilities affected by ransomware. Criminals have begun targeting businesses who handle the IT service needs for smaller organizations in health care – including senior living providers. This way, hackers can infiltrate hundreds of client businesses from a single breach. It’s what recently happened to Virtual Care Provider Inc, based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On November 17, a criminal group encrypted the data of their entire customer base: 110 skilled nursing and acute care providers in 45 states. Resident records were locked, internet access blocked and medication...