Online Payments

Online payments offer benefits for renters and site staff such as convenience and lower costs. But before you can reap the benefits, you’ve got to get residents to enroll. We’ve got a few quick tips to make the process easier. Online payments add value for residents Per the National Apartment Association, about 78% of residents prefer to pay their bills online. Renters value the convenience of 24/7/365 access to their accounts. And they can submit payments at any time, rather than working within the confines of leasing office hours. Additionally, each online method reduces the risks and data entry associated with cash as well as the hassle of ordering, writing and waiting on paper checks to process. Online payments offer a variety of payment methods to fit your residents’ preferences. Bank account, credit or debit card ACH transactions may occur on single and reoccurring basis. TextPay and voice payments via Resident Services: Alexa Skill are added conveniences. All payment options are easily accessible through your RENTCafe resident portal, which adds value for your renters. More than 92% of respondents consider online rent payment an important resident portal feature. Optimize staff hours with online payments What can your staff accomplish in a workweek without opening mail, scanning checks, trips to the bank, or data entry? Much more. They can nurture new leads and promote retention by building rapport with residents. Both skills bolster your bottom line far more than tedious and redundant tasks like data entry. When you increase adaptation to online payment processing, everyone wins! But first, you’ve got to get renters to enroll. Check out these five tips to boost online payment enrollment. Create an awareness campaign including emails, social media posts, and print posters at the leasing office (especially near the rent...

Tech Trends + Innovations

Technology has permanently changed how consumers search for, tour, rent, buy and sell real estate. Check out which established proptech tools get a fresh twist this year, and which innovations bring greater conveniences to the industry. Multiple tour options are no longer optional Today’s prospects expect multiple ways to view a property. Technology plays a huge role in the ability to offer multiple convenient tour options. For most renters, the search begins online. A survey reveals that “renters are becoming so comfortable with renting digitally, that 72% say they would rent an apartment without ever seeing the property in person if a 3D virtual tour was offered.” In stead of stagnant photos, 3D self-guided tours use special software to give online viewers a 360 tour of every space in the property. While the majority of renters may sign a lease at this point, for many, this option acts as a filter. It helps prospects identify which units they want to further investigate. Live virtual tours allow prospects to remotely attend a walk-through lead by an agent. This gives prospects an opportunity to ask clarifying questions about the unit, property and neighborhood. The engagement gives the agent a chance to build a relationship with the prospect. Not all prospects want the guidance of an agent. For self-guided tours, prospects use online scheduling software like RentCafe Self-Guided Tours to book a tour. After a quick yet secure verification process on their mobile phones, prospects access the unit. They complete the tour at their own pace, unassisted by an agent. Multiple tour options give forward-thinking property managers an advantage over less tech-savvy competition. Digital twins have joined the chat Want to get ahead of the tech curve and offer your prospects something truly unique? Digital twins have a growing presence in real estate. A digital twin is software that uses real world data to create simulations that predict how a unit or building could perform.   The technology empowers prospects with a better understanding of a property: its environmental efficiency, typical cost of utility bills, and the scope of resilience against natural disasters to name a few. Properties that offer special structural features now have a way to demonstrate those advantages. Bitcoin establishes itself among flexible payment options Online payment options have included ACH and debit / credit cards. More recently, text and voice command payments entered the real estate scene. Now, real estate professionals are also integrating cryptocurrency and blockchain-supported contracts. Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, began disrupting real estate transactions en masse in 2013. Since then, its popularity and legitimacy has steadily grown. Blockchain, the supporting database, offers secure, anonymous and accurate transactions from start to finish. Real estate firms interested in optimal efficiency and seamless international transactions may consider cryptocurrency with blockchain-supported transactions. Chatbots with machine learning improve responsiveness Responsiveness will make or break a relationship with consumers. Chatbots can answer inquiries 24/7/365 without inconveniencing human agents. Chatbots with machine learning, like RentCafe Chat IQ, will offer a noticeable difference in customer service. These AI-supported bots “learn” with experience, adapting to the nuances of human vernacular to improve future interactions. With chatbots, property managers can offer stellar customer service at any time of day. Staff leans into automated ads Software can automatically transform ILS listing into detail-specific ads. If needed, staff can adjust parameters to hone in on key audiences. For each automated ad campaign, staff receives data on views, clicks and demographics, allowing tweaks throughout the process. Automated ads reduce manual labor while improving ad spend control and ROI. Tech for the win Tech is a powerful ally for any growing real estate business. Technology improves staff efficiency and reduces menial task loads. The same products serve as differentiators that offer sought-after conveniences to consumers.  Seeking a tech partner to help your business grow? Join a webinar to discover a suite of multifamily tech tools to support your...

Multifamily CRM

Are you setting fresh, ambitious goals for your multifamily business? Quality customer relationship management (CRM) software can help you reach them. We’ve got top insights in what to look for when choosing a multifamily CRM solution. What is multifamily CRM? You’ve likely heard of CRM and even dabbled in some of its features. Such software is increasingly critical for the optimal efficiency and functionality of your multifamily business. CRM gives you a 360-degree view of your relationship with each contact, from prospect to former resident. It offers a centralized location for managing client info, tracking correspondences and compiling data on client behaviors. With such insights, you can market for more conversions, sign more leases, improve retention and revenue. A good CRM tool will also help office workloads feel lighter, resulting in more energized and focused staff with less turnover. If that sounds good to you, read on! What to look for in multifamily CRM… There are lots of CRM options on the market. To select the one that is appropriate for your business, consider the following. Scalability Different tools at different price points will offer options that are suitable for your business. Select an option that meets your current needs and can grow with you in coming years. Automation We will spend a lot of time here. Your staff will need automation to streamline workflows and reduce manual, redundant and often time-consuming tasks. Consider follow-ups: quick responses (under five minutes) are 21 times more likely to lead to a sale. This is because 88% of consumers expect a business to respond to their inquiry within 60 minutes. More than 30% expect a response in 15 minutes or fewer, per the 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report. With automated text messaging and emails, your CRM...

Abby Development

“We had to identify a single solution that could do what we needed, out of the box, instead of pursuing ten different vendors for ten different things. That was a big piece of choosing Yardi.” That’s what Chief Financial Officer Marc Abraham says about Abby Development’s path to Yardi solutions. From financials to business intelligence, this Texas-headquartered provider needed an integrated system — one built for their exact needs.    That’s just the beginning of Abby Development’s story. Luckily, we hopped on the phone with Abraham to get the full picture, learning all the details of their experience with Voyager Senior Housing and Senior IQ. And these interconnected tools are driving real success for Abby Development, company-wide. Keep reading for a highlight: The Challenge: Limited Analysis Abby Development was using a software system with limitations. As a fast-growing company, frequently compiling data and running reports, they needed a solution that enabled a deeper level of analysis. They searched for a single connected solution to capture real-time insights, eliminate errors and save time. The Solution: Yardi Voyager Senior Housing & Senior IQ Yardi Voyager Senior Housing unifies property management, finance and business oversight on a single platform. Built for the unique needs of senior living providers, Voyager ensures Abby Development has every tool needed to manage their communities. With Yardi Senior IQ, a senior living business intelligence solution, Abby Development accesses real-time data in attractive, sharable dashboards. Drawing portfolio-wide information from Voyager, Senior IQ helps Abby Development act confidently and make informed decisions. The Story: Comprehensive Insights Describing the system used prior to Yardi, Abraham noted, “It wasn’t the at level we needed — the functionality just wasn’t there.” By selecting solutions from the Yardi Senior Living Suite, Abby Development now accesses key metrics, reports...

Leveraging Tech

Technology has the power to transform our work and our lives. During the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) conference, Yardi sponsored and moderated the session, Impactful Innovation: Leveraging tech to gain visibility and empower your teams. Meherzad Bakht, senior account executive at Yardi Canada Ltd. moderated the panel attended by Kelly Black, chief administrative officer, District of Timiskaming Social Services Administration Board (DTSSAB), Clinton Reid, quality assurance and compliance manager, Woodgreen Community Centre and Abdulle Elmi, business lead, Housing Management Enterprise System (HoMES) at Toronto Community Housing Corporation.  The live virtual event explored solutions that can help organizations improve oversight and visibility into their facilities and operations, elevate resident management and tenant care, and inspire diverse teams and drive efficiencies. Here are some of the highlights from the discussion. The quest for change Different factors served as catalysts for change within their organizations. Two consistent threads emerged: front-line staff endured repetitive, time-intensive manual tasks that often resulted in inefficiencies and inconsistencies; and disparate systems resulted in murky reporting and limited data analysis. The organizations sought for a way to streamline reporting, requiring fewer employees to spend less time identifying a single point of truth. Reid explained, “When we communicate to leadership that we can get the job done, we neglect to convey the amount of time and effort required to pull and complete a report.” He continues, “When COVID hit, we realized the number of resources put into reporting was significant.” All three organizations experienced some resistance at the ground level. Staff were leery of learning complex software that didn’t completely meet their needs or understand the social housing reporting requirements. The request to document processes also resulted in a sense of unease, though leadership assured their teams the efforts would ultimately support and simplify their work. Elmi said,...

PropTech for Gen Z

Do you know if your proptech will maintain its appeal to future generations of prospects? If not, no worries. We’ve done the research for you. We’re exploring proptech with staying power, tools for today that will continue to deliver results well into the Gen Z lifecycle. Cut costs with lasting proptech Proptech is a major investment in money and hours. The technology you choose should evolve with users’ changing needs to ensure that you get the best impact per dollar. Not all new solutions will stand the tests of time. Are you confident that your proptech lineup is ready for Gen Z? Read on for the essential solutions that your organization needs. REACH brings you the freshest data on Gen Z Gen Z is comprised of about 67 million people, the oldest of whom turn 25 this year. We learned more about the largest renter demographic ever through the REACH by RentCafe Gen Z Renter Study. This survey of more than 10,000 next gen renters gives insights into their habits and interests. The results confirmed what we’ve observed: Gen Z is an intelligent, tech-savvy generation that values efficiency and creativity. They value proptech that feeds their need for contactless transactions as well as quick and easy access to information and services. Tech for targeted and engaged marketing One average, Gen Z search terms are 4.9 words long, longer than all previous generations. They know that using detailed queries will bring them closer to what they really want rather than wading through pages of irrelevant results. Appeal to their specific searches with longtail keywords and campaigns crafted by search engine marketing professionals. Expert search engine optimization (SEO) strategies will help your content rank well and be discovered by prospects. When supplemented with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising,...

Increasing Investor Confidence

How are you providing timely information to your investors and internal stakeholders? If you manage investments, you already know that investors want information on demand. They often prefer to view it in convenient digital formats, often from a mobile device. You also know that executives require quick access to reports, and other staff need investor information fast. Do you have a single source of truth and easy data access across your organization? Are you using tech that increases transparency and investor confidence? If you’re not sure, read on. Consider this scenario: one of your company’s investors calls your office asking for details about an asset or a deal. The investor explains that her contact is  not responding. Given the urgency, she needs to speak with your CFO immediately. However, both the CFO and controller are in a meeting behind closed doors and are not to be disturbed. Does this sound familiar? Suppose you don’t manage the assets or your investment management and proptech systems aren’t integrated. Then you hit a wall, and your investor is bound to be dissatisfied when they can’t have instant access to the information they need. Here’s great news: a single platform for investment management and accounting with an investor portal offering self-service access to data and documents can go a long way to make investors happy and improve their confidence. This solution will also increase operational efficiency. With a single connected platform, you can centralize communications with existing and prospective investors, automate the management of capital call and distribution notices and improve collaboration on investment opportunities. You will also increase efficiency for internal stakeholders, such as executives requiring financial reports and investor relations staff needing access to investor information. These capabilities drive a higher level of investor confidence through the responsive online delivery of timely data. Investors can view property-level metrics, and investment managers can communicate new investment opportunity information through a secure portal instead of email. Empowering internal stakeholders Expand access across your organization to enable more staff to help investors when they need information, fast. With a secure investment management platform, more of your employees can have usable data at their fingertips, including key metrics and financials, without impacting your accounting team. That kind of access is one of the myriad benefits Holladay Properties is getting from their investment management platform, according to Wills Gardner, the company’s director of capital planning. “Holladay staff can get more information on their own and answer investor queries immediately, which is both more efficient and satisfying for investors,” Gardner said. Scott McGinness, CFO at Cohen Asset Management, can also attest to the value of a connected investment management platform. “I was probably the bane of my controller’s existence previously, but now I can log in to the system and generally I can pull anything I need,” McGinness said. Increasing investor confidence Recent changes in investor expectations stem from technological advances.  Current and prospective investors are more closely following the operational aspects of their real estate investments and how those assets will be enhanced in terms of value and income generation. Those aspects include a property’s day-to-day activity and productivity, such as rental income, leasing, marketing and capital improvements. Whereas investor reporting previously was largely confined to financial performance, today’s investors want not only the numbers but also what’s driving them, knowing that property operations impact cash flow and ultimately give rise to distributions and higher asset value.  A single connected technology platform enables analysis of investor, fund and portfolio key metrics, effective communication with investors and efficient management of fundraising and deal tracking.  Such a platform gives investment managers and investors alike clarity into their holdings, helps identify risks and provides full transparency from an investor to asset operations. That level of transparency increases investor confidence and satisfaction. A clear path to success Let’s look back at our original scenario. With an investment management platform that integrates with an asset’s operational data, the investor may have been able to view the information she needed on her iPhone. Satisfying tech-savvy, increasingly sophisticated and inquisitive...

Home, Smart Home

Smart home technology is expanding rapidly. Renters want smart home amenities for security and convenience. Property managers are interested in its easy and productive operational management. Smart home technology is also used for risk mitigation and real-time insights to improve buildings’ sustainability as well as property managers’ understanding of their properties’ processes. RentCafe Home IQ is Yardi’s smart apartment solution for the multifamily industry. It allows for increased revenue opportunity and resident retention by offering advanced technology features and experiences. Home IQ deploys and manages a fleet of connected devices without installing custom or third-party software, making it easy to add convenience, streamline operations and manage risk. With new technology comes fresh considerations and questions. Here to help is Vice President Greg Smith. He’s been with Yardi more than 20 years and has been instrumental in the development of Home IQ. Below he shares a little insight into the smart home market, why we made Home IQ and how it compares to other products for multifamily. What is the current state of the smart home market? Smith: Smart home is hopping! And it’s not just for the techies out there. We’ve seen that renters are beginning to look for it and, in some asset classes, expect it. The good news is that smart home tech has as many (or more) benefits for the property owner and operator as it does the resident. Why is Yardi getting involved? Smith: Smart home tech is a natural expansion for Yardi. It’s easy to think of smart home as just a resident function, but the reality is that it can be a huge efficiency gain for the owners and operators. Yardi is always working on solutions to help our clients improve asset revenue and decrease risk, and smart...

Social Media Habits

After getting to know Gen Z, REACH by RentCafe investigated how these young renters search online and how they use ratings and reviews while doing so. Today, we’re sharing data related to one of the most notable and important aspects of this generation’s lifestyle: social media. All about social media, all the time Welcome to the world of social media, where Gen Zers are no strangers to the posts, snaps, influencers, advertisements, stories and hashtags that dominate these platforms. And how could these young renters not be well versed in the art of social media? They have grown up in the age of smartphones, tablets and computers. In fact, 95% of Gen Zers use a social media app or website at least once a week, while 33% claim they spend most of their time outside of work or school on social media. It’s important to grasp the prominent role social media plays in the lives of Gen Z so you can attract these young renters. After asking over 10,000 members of Gen Z to name their top 3 social media channels, REACH by RentCafe found that those most often chosen included Instagram (46%), Facebook (43%), YouTube (39%), TikTok (33%) and Snapchat (30%).Interestingly, this data informs marketers about what exactly Gen Zers are doing while on social media. Most of these platforms center around videos, meaning that Gen Z is spending a great deal of time seeking entertainment. In a survey, Gen Zers identified the three things they felt most connected with while using social media: entertainment, their friends and the world. Reaching Gen Z on social media So how can you attract Gen Zers using social media? We have a few tips to help you out: Use storiesDid you know that Instagram alone has...

Managing Investments

You might be hearing a lot about the benefits of connecting the accounting, operations and investor relations within real estate organizations in a single technology platform. It’s natural to wonder what the appeal to this approach is. The single connected platform strategy stems from a growing realization among investors and investment managers of the deficiencies of spreadsheets, inefficient communications and other outmoded tools. Entering data into multiple spreadsheets and relying on disparate investment, investor and accounting systems can be inefficient and error-prone for investment managers. For their part, investors increasingly expect on-demand service and self-service access to key metrics, capital transactions, documents and reports. Technology that facilitates these operations has become widely available to investment manager service providers over the past several years, improving collaboration among investment participants and increasing investor confidence. A single connected platform centralizes investment managers’ communications with existing and prospective investors, automates the management of capital call and distribution notices, and improves collaboration on investment opportunities. Such a platform also improves efficiency for internal stakeholders. Executives needing a report, can get it themselves from the centralized database without asking Accounting. Investor Relations has full access to investor information readily available from the platform. An added benefit comes in the form of a higher level of investor confidence that comes from the online delivery of timely, responsive data. Investors can view property-level metrics, and investment managers can communicate new investment opportunity information through a secure portal rather than email. Yardi Investment Manager is one example of how a technology platform can unite real estate investment activity. It provides a single source of the truth for investor and investment information that eliminates the need for disparate systems and manual data transfers. Investment managers are empowered to give their investors timely access to...

New Dimensions

With many workers staying at home during the pandemic, commercial buildings emptied but the obligation to maintain security for buildings, technology, hardware and data remained. Now that many of those employees are on the verge of returning to work, managers of residential as well as commercial properties are bolstering traditional physical security – the protection of outer and inner perimeters and interiors with guards, fences, locks, video surveillance, fire detection and more – with new capabilities. Seventy-five percent of respondents to a recent survey of U.S. physical security and facility management professionals said the pandemic increased the importance of physical security in their organizations. Propmodo, which covers the global property industry, notes, “The expectations about safety and security have changed [after the pandemic] and security teams and the buildings they manage need to be prepared to meet these new higher standards.” Enhanced systems for evolving needs As a result, many property owners seeking to mitigate risk are embracing a notion of security that combines traditional physical security elements with access control technologies that have evolved, as Georgia-based real estate investment advisement firm Think Realty says, “to support a digital environment for tenants and property managers.” Advanced access systems encompass door entry, video surveillance and intrusion detectors, and real-time monitoring of entrants and the property. Many such systems are cloud-based, enabling remote management and scalability. Many employ voice, retinal, and facial recognition, thermal imaging and artificial intelligence. Engaging a technology platform capable of seamlessly physical and data security operations with other Internet of Things building infrastructure elements gives security and facility managers “the opportunity to create an environment that is not only safe and secure, but promotes productivity, collaboration and success,” Propmodo says. Commercial and residential property owners most likely will adopt other new practices...

Canadian Influence

Meet Zach Scott. As vice president of programming for Yardi in Canada, Scott leads a team of engineers conducting research and development. This diverse group, primarily located in the Saskatoon and Vancouver offices, works diligently on designing and coding features for some of our leading edge solutions such as Yardi Matrix, Pulse, and IoT.  Read on to learn from Scott about some of the fascinating work they do to improve Yardi’s proptech platforms on a daily basis. Are these solutions used primarily in the U.S. or throughout North America? Scott: Over the last two years these products have gained in popularity within the Canadian real estate industry and leadership at Yardi Canada is ready to support the need. Tell us about your team’s involvement in Yardi’s early development of the Internet of Things (IoT) platform? Scott: In 2018, as part of a one-month moonshot challenge, we designed a hub and built the software that now serves as the core of Yardi’s IoT platform. The hub sits in an apartment unit and bridges communication between the various smart devices in the unit and Yardi’s cloud-hosted software. We can’t reveal much about how the hub works or what exactly went into making it but what I can share is that in addition to building software solutions, Yardi has now entered the era of building hardware that connects our clients’ buildings to their business workflows. What do those efforts look like today? Scott: Every month, Yardi ships IoT hubs to be installed at client properties. With hundreds of hubs operating 24/7 today, the team has successfully turned an idea into reality. We continue to add features guided by client feedback. We also have a list of enhancements we’d like to add to the hub, features like Wi-Fi...

Need Efficient Leasing Solutions?

Technology offers several benefits that make it a mainstay in the multifamily leasing process. Today, we will check out solutions that add efficiency and convenience to your daily processes. Automated communication Automation is an essential part of an efficient leasing workflow. Automation means less hands-on time for staff, especially during redundant and menial tasks like responding to general questions. Let’s face it: most people don’t thoroughly read. An online study suggests that fewer than 25% of readers complete an online article. This means that—no matter how many details you put on your website—your staff will receive requests to answer the same questions. Additionally, your staff must remind prospects of upcoming tours, manage cancellations and rescheduling, and follow-up after tours are complete. Those simple tasks are time consuming, but they don’t have to be. Automated email services issue follow-ups and disseminate commonly requested information. Automated correspondences can save your staff time and save you money without sacrificing a high-quality user experience. Chatbots for intelligent automation Automation improves response times, which is important to prospects and residents alike. The 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Apartment Resident Preferences Report reveals that 88% of consumers expect a response within an hour and 33% of that group expects an answer in 15 minutes or less. Delayed or missed responses are bad for business. How do you improve response times while decreasing hands-on time for staff? Chatbots offer real time assistance. They answer questions, book appointments and “learn” to adapt to a company’s unique needs and customer trends. Chatbot are growing in popularity. It is estimated that 85% of human interactions online will be handled by a chatbot by 2025. Users demonstrate such trust in chatbots that 68% of them expect a better experience with a chatbot than a human. Get 3 Critical Tips for Picking the Right Chatbot Virtual and self-guided tours Virtual tours can take many formats. Pre-recorded video tours and live video tours are both popular, agent-led options. These tours give your staff the opportunity to build rapport and pursue the sale during conversation. They also offer the convenience of engagement without face-to-face interaction. But agent-led tours still require a notable time investment from staff. The third tour type, self-guided tours, empowers prospects to schedule their tour online, check in online, and gain access to the unit without the intervention of an agent. Prospects can then enjoy a live tour and follow-up correspondence from an agent. Self-guided tours are in-demand. A survey of 4,974 consumers on RentCafe.com reveals that 70% of respondents would take a self-guided tour. This convenient tour offering is also effective. Yardi client QuadReal reports that 33% of its self-made appointments converted to leases. Virtual options allow you to schedule more tours and expand touring hours. Both benefits facilitate greater convenience for your team and your prospects. Online rent collection Consumers crave online conveniences. Yardi client Applied Property Management has a leasing process that is entirely online. More than 92% of its market-rate residents also pay rent online and the company expects the number to reach 100% in the near future. Residents at Applied Property Management aren’t unique in their payment habits. Per the NMHC/Kingsley survey, nearly 80% of residents prefer to pay online. Online payments can take several convenient forms for your residents. They can pay online with a credit or debit card, schedule a one-time or reoccurring ACH and even pay by text message. When there are fewer people dropping off rent checks, you reduce office traffic and strain on staff. Online payments also result in zero rent envelopes to open, deliver to the bank and wait for processing. Online maintenance requests and tracking To a resident, every disturbance in their home workflow may feel a rip off and a domestic emergency. They aren’t paying for a broken dishwasher and that leaky pipe is threatening their personal belongings. So until the issues are resolved, you’ll get regularly scheduled calls from...

Tech for the Win

If you’re like many multifamily operators, the technology you thought would be “nice to have” became “must have” when COVID-19 hit. With those must-have contactless services and automated transactions in place, companies are now asking, “what’s next?” to move business forward. To answer that question, we talked to Chad Munitz, vice president of development at Towne Properties, Jennifer Price, director of systems at Walton Communities, and Greg Slang, executive vice president of asset management at KETTLER, about the metrics they’re focusing on in 2021, and how it’s shifted the way they do business. The bottom line: They can still improve net operating income beyond rent increases by reducing expenses, increasing efficiencies and leveraging new technology in their operational processes. Keep reading to hear their stories and get some ideas to incorporate in your business. Virtual tours and online leasing According to Munitz, Towne prides itself on being a high touch management company — and technology has increased its capabilities to offer more to its residents. With the onset of the pandemic, Towne quickly provided more contactless services. “When the pandemic started, one of our initial fears was how do we keep those relationships and touches going with all of our residents. It allowed us to figure out the services we wanted to roll out quicker — including allowing people to pay rent online and sign leases digitally. We really started focusing on a centralized leasing and management process and honed-in on some of our urban properties where we were seeing the most negative impacts of the pandemic in terms of revenue. So, we centralized all our leasing and management at one location and implemented technology to support it. We were as in touch with our residents as we were before, and we increased ways...

Optimize Rents

At every step of your journey, there are opportunities to elevate your asset performance. Today’s technology can equip you with the tools and insights needed to make the most of every square foot. Read on to learn how you can maximize rents at every stage of your project. Design for density To maximize net rentability, begin with your design. Dense multifamily housing offers more units and the potential to garner more rents. Data from Hanley Wood explores ways to increase density in multifamily, along with the benefits and disadvantages of each methodology. Explore site plans that truly show the relationships between design options and core development metrics. Of the most favorable options, you might: apply for a variance to decrease the setbacks on the site. This relatively simple adjustment can boost your buildable square footage. increase the net rentable square feet (NRSF) by increasing the depth of your units at the desired square footage. In longer runs, you can increase density and the potential for rents. get creative with amenities. When possible, decrease their size and explore options such as an outsourced gym with Amenify or outsourced communal space. With improved density, you help to increase your NRSF and position yourself for greater net rentability. Maximize rents with the latest data If you’re working with a built structure, there are ample opportunities to maximize rents. Implement a program that optimizes the value of your asset using big data, predictive analytics and prescriptive actions. Overall, this approach helps to keep costs low, increase your revenue and mitigate costly operational risks. Consider a solution that allows you to benchmark your operating income and expenses against your competition. Transparency within your portfolio is crucial as well. A robust system synthesizes data throughout your integrated property management, leasing...

Café Coworking

Before coworking became an industry, we had coffee shops. Any café with free internet became a place where students and professionals would settle in for work. In the age of coworking spaces, coffee shops are still formidable competition—and tech innovations make the competition stronger. Coffee shops are cashing in as flexible workspaces We’ve all witnessed the coffee shop scene: with a beverage nearby, individuals and small groups hammer out ideas on their laptops or in hushed conversations. Sometimes, we’re one of them. Other times, we vie with them for table space. Coffee shops are the original flexible workspace, and more shops are converting available square footage to fill climbing demand. Awake Coffee Company opened in metro Atlanta in 2015. It was a small, tight space that wasn’t conducive to working. I went twice before finding a different spot. In 2019, Awake moved just one block away to a larger location, and now you can’t keep me out of it. It offers formal and informal coworking quarters alongside its cozy coffee operation. Awake isn’t the only shop cashing in on flexible workspaces. An increasing number of cafes seek a bump in revenue by offering coworking plans. Even restaurants in major metros are getting their cut of the pie. The New York Times reported on the shift, and it continues to gain momentum. New industries blossomed from the shift. KettleSpace and WorkEatPlay both specialize in turning food-focused locales into coworking spaces. Their clients’ clientele are people who don’t want to pay several hundred dollar or more per month for a coworking space. Additionally, they crave a relaxed, social atmosphere. These are freelancers, contractors and gig workers who love what they do because it doesn’t require a designated space. Yes, you can hold your own with the...

Canadian RE Insight

We continue our discussion of how to create a supportive technology culture in Canadian real estate organizations with industry leaders Sarah Segal, director of real estate for Informa Connect, and Michael Brooks, CEO of REALPAC. Let’s start with Brooks, who itemizes what he considers the most necessary elements for promoting a tech-friendly culture: “I would say attitude, process and leadership,” he says. “Attitude means being receptive to continuous improvement. Process encompasses the search and selection of the best tech fit for the organization. And leadership refers to affirmation from top management that progress and technology adoption are complementary and self-reinforcing virtues.” And what’s the best way to encourage receptiveness to new technology? For Segal, it’s fairly straightforward: “Don’t make it scary. Keep it simple and focused,” she says, because major changes to working processes take time and resources and have the potential to overwhelm. Once the team gets comfortable and realizes how the products benefit their work and the organization as a whole, “you can grow the offerings and technology stack.” “Technology integration is a journey, not a single product,” Segal continues. “Incremental growth leads to higher returns and better adoption as opposed to big, sudden shifts in how a team works.” It’s a good idea to “anticipate concerns and opportunities that may arise and have solutions ready for them. This will lead to increased user acceptance and satisfaction.” One of the biggest uncertainties surrounding real estate and the rest of the economy over the past year is, of course, COVID-19. Did the pandemic have an impact on tech adoption?  Segal and Brooks agree that the pandemic gave rise to a paradigm shift for many commercial tech companies. In Informa Connect’s case, “what had been a 5-10 year plan became a 5-10 month plan,”...

EHR Care Stream App

For nurses and other care staff in senior living, having an efficient record-keeping system is crucial. And for staff members who work across multiple communities — or remotely — accessing an electronic health record system from a mobile device is largely beneficial.    With the latest release of the Yardi EHR Care Stream app, users can now access the features from a smartphone — an advantageous step forward for senior care staff. This upgrade means the Care Stream app is compatible with both smartphones and tablet devices. In short, the upgrade allows nurses and care staff to perform order resolutions and execute point-of-care charting directly from a smartphone. This helps staff streamline workflows, save time and optimize care responsibilities. And with a user interface reformatted for smartphone use, the new and improved app supports all the same functionality as the tablet version. “With the flexibility to perform order resolutions and related tasks from a smartphone, senior care staff can complete their work more efficiently,” said Ray Elliott, vice president of senior living at Yardi. “The upgrade also helps staff members with limited access to tablet devices. Smartphone functionality allows more communities to utilize the app’s many benefits.” To download the Yardi EHR Care Stream app for smartphones, visit the Google Play Store or the App...

Informed Decisions, Better Results

The most successful companies are those that utilize data and analytics as a supporting tool to adapt to rapid market changes, but how can you simplify Big Data to improve daily decision making? How can online services help you stay connected while safely doing business miles apart? There are innovative solutions that offer a combination of tools that boost profitability, efficiency, communication and even security. Read on to discover four ways asset intelligence (AI) technology can help CRE operators understand how to navigate market shifts and emerge with a competitive edge. 1. Use data to enhance asset performance On average, more North American organizations have been using big data for benchmarking and prescriptive analytics over the past few years. In fact, according to KMPG’s 2020 CEO Outlook, 92% of Canadian CEOs fast-tracked their transformation to meet COVID-19 challenges, with 76% believing that investments in tech tools such as automation, artificial intelligence and cloud systems are critical to unlocking long-term growth. As a result of the tech adoption, the CRE industry is seeing AI enable teams to identify patterns and recognize trends by easily visualizing broader pools of data that influence KPIs, all within a customizable dashboard. With the assistance of automation and machine learning, the data becomes more refined over time facilitating more informed decisions on everything from marketing spend to concessions and leasing velocity. Having ongoing access to distilled real-time reporting encourages team collaboration, a data driven culture and empowers departments to stay on track of projects – it can even give individuals the latitude to go beyond their day-to-day responsibilities. During challenging times, this refined data also gives operators better insight into deals and key early wins that can reassure and even excite stakeholders. 2. Forge a clearer pathway to success with cloud-based data management Cloud-based asset management platforms offer key insights into portfolio health including revenues, debt, risk, occupancy and sales. Such data helps asset managers make more strategic decisions and set stakeholder expectations. Benefits also abound at the property level. Today’s asset management software seamlessly integrates with site-specific tools. Integrated, cloud-based technology supports facility and construction managers, leasing agents and property-level users. From online rent payments to digital procurement, users save time, decrease redundancies and improve accuracy within a single integrated system. With site staff connected to a single point of truth, they can efficiently make better day-to-day decisions. Structured dashboards enhance the value and practicality of data. “[Commercial clients] want a solution that’s designed for them and which connects them to the central data system with mobile applications and dashboards. That’s why we created a connected ecosystem for the operations side with Yardi Elevate,” explains Brian Sutherland, vice president, sales commercial at Yardi. He continues, “Expanding data access to the back office is tied to the larger issue of data management. The challenge is dissecting data and making it actionable for informed decisions. That’s the importance of role-based dashboards that remove guesswork for building operations people who need to control costs and work more efficiently.” Modern asset management technology platforms assimilate data at the property and portfolio levels and make it universally available. With a complete set of information, asset managers can evaluate pipelines, connect investors with appropriate deals and create an effective management plan. More strategic deal execution paves the way to increased revenues and overall success. 3. Gain greater efficiency and convenience throughout your organization with online services The cloud offers a unique opportunity to work with live data from anywhere with an internet connection. Executives can review reports, approve expenses and authorize payments when and where it’s convenient for them. Asset managers virtually present live reports to stakeholders with real-time data that is consistent throughout reporting systems. Whether in the office or a remote work environment, leaders across the organization achieve greater accuracy and efficiency with online services. At the property level, online portals make it easy to process rent payments,...

YASC Global

More than 17,000 participants from 64 countries collectively viewed 60,000 classes about Yardi products and initiatives from May 18-20 during the third virtual Yardi Advanced Solutions Conference (YASC) Global event held during the pandemic. Many of the spotlight sessions offered highlighted ways that Yardi technology has helped clients, their employees and customers adapt and thrive with technology during a time when limited contact has been a priority. The event again utilized the Yardi Aspire platform to deliver customized educational content. YASC attendees also enjoyed a virtual fundraising concert by guitarist/songwriter Jason Mraz. Each view of the performance generated a donation from Yardi, raising nearly $100,000 for COVID-19 relief initiatives. Meditation and mindfulness sessions were available for attendees to enjoy during short breaks between classes. Highlights from some of the featured spotlight sessions included: Marketing and automation solutions for residential Optimized marketing, automated chatbots and accessible self-guided tours were among the highlights presented in the residential spotlight session. These fully integrated Yardi solutions are among the ways multifamily clients have continued to see success during the pandemic. “I want to show you what’s possible when you have the right digital marketing strategy in place,” said Esther Bonardi, vice president of marketing at Yardi. “I bet you have a website. But do you have a comprehensive marketing strategy in place that can help you get your properties on page one of search results and get your customers directly to your website so that you can convert them into paying renters, faster?” RentCafe Reach helps clients attract qualified prospects with advanced search marketing services. The platform is currently optimizing more than 2,000 industry websites for organic search and driving rent-ready leads to managers. “This is the most cost-effective marketing channel,” Bonardi said. “And you can target exactly the traffic you need for the moment or availability you’re in.” Additional features like reputation management, search, and a new marketing analytics tool called Marketing IQ were also presented. “Marketing IQ is a one stop shop for all the data you need to make marketing decisions,” Bonardi said. “It’s really all for the purpose of improving your marketing ROI, which ultimately leads to a stronger NOI.” Once you’ve got a prospect on the line, engaging immediately to answer their questions is of paramount importance. But what if it’s after hours or your leasing office is closed for the weekend? That’s where chatbots come in. “Your prospective residents want and expect answers quickly, whether you’re open or not, or they quickly move on. This is especially true for popular new channels like text and chat,” said Paul Yount, industry principal for RENTCafé. “Bots and multiple touring options can really complement each other when they work together hand in hand.” Yount demonstrated a full conversation with a chatbot that answered questions about a property’s electric vehicle charging stations, pet policy, availability and pricing. He was able to schedule a self-guided tour via text and then showed how further AI automation can continue to answer questions even when the leasing office was closed during the tour. From a property manager’s perspective, the latest multifamily technology from Yardi not only solves for social distancing and accessibility but reduces staff time spent following up on prospect questions or even leading in-person tours. Proptech trends for the commercial sector Rob Teel, senior vice president of global solutions at Yardi, shared that for him, the most overwhelming CRE proptech trend in the last 12 months has been increased technical adoption. “That means paperless and contactless transactions, and online communication. When I think about paperless transactions, one of the best examples of innovation that helps eliminate that last piece of paper in the organization – which we’re all trying to do – is our e-signature capability for leases. You can now publish a lease for signature, there’s no exchange of FedEx documents and no meeting to get a wet signature. Paperless transactions and...