Digital Services

By on Oct 7, 2020 in Global

Residential property investors speeding up digitalisation due to the corona pandemic is a positive development, says Terrence Wong, Yardi regional manager for Europe. However, the main reason for going online is that very soon, potential tenants will expect and demand digital services. ‘The result is happy tenants, more efficient business processes and greater profitability.’

Terrence Wong, Yardi regional manager for Europe

Wong was one of those taking part in the Yardi roundtable on the use and the necessity of the further digitalisation of clients’ journeys.

In the Netherlands, the leasing cycle is frequently still very laborious, says Wong. ‘Tenants don’t meet their property managers until the leasing cycle starts. Property managers are often hard to get hold of. The perception of a potential client who spends 20 minutes in the queue, is not put through and has to call back a few days later is obviously far from positive. The new tenant subsequently has to print out lots of documents to be signed, then has to pass by to view the property, and then again to sign the contract. And all this exclusively during office hours.’

Moving faster

Digitalising the whole leasing cycle, both for the tenant and our own organisation, cuts out a lot of the red tape. ‘See it as a service to the tenant. Tenants want to do it all themselves through a smart app, without being tied to office hours or the property manager’s agenda. And property managers, too, want to move fast. Having tenants submit all their details digitally and allowing them to take care of many of their affairs themselves requires fewer internal employees. Furthermore, complaints can be processed and dealt with quickly, with ongoing automatic updates. This leads to happy, well-informed tenants and an efficient internal completion procedure.’

High tech and high touch

According to Wong, new property managers too must become “high tech and high touch” as soon as possible. ‘We see many investors who have switched from commercial to residential property. Compared to simply dealing with just one office lessee, they were wary of renting out residential properties to lots of different tenants and having to deal with numerous questions and complaints. Now, using our digital RENTCafé platform, it’s all a smooth process. Tenants are contracted via the platform, and can chat with each other and the property manager, pay the rent and make service requests on the platform. Yardi calls this digital service and service provision High Tech and High Touch; high quality with maximum efficiency. The platform allows investors to engage with their clients’ journeys in a positive manner. This also benefits the property manager’s image. Experience shows that this will make tenants give the organisation a higher rating.’

Alexa automation

Anyone curious about the face of digital services in a few years should look at the US, advises Wong. ‘There’s no housing shortage there, and property managers need to make a distinguishing mark. They do this by increasingly high-quality digital services. In the US, tenants are no longer surprised by digital keys and viewings. There are even property managers who no longer work with apps but simply with Alexa or Google speech assistants. The tenant only needs to give a verbal command and the voice assistant carries it out. Pay the rent, find a mechanic, let them into the residence, set the thermostat at 21 degrees, measure energy consumption; it’s all automated.’

Besting the competition

Nevertheless, digitalisation is not a luxury in the Netherlands, but a necessity, stresses Wong. ‘Dutch property managers sometimes say that they have no problem renting out their properties without making digital investments. But is this done as efficiently as possible for both the organisation and potential tenants? An investor who has digitalised the entire leasing cycle is much more efficient and therefore makes a bigger profit. Furthermore, properties are leased much faster digitally. All investors aim to leave their stock vacant as briefly as possible. Furthermore, very soon house hunters will be demanding fast, digital services. A competitor who has made the necessary digital adaptations will rent out their properties faster.’

This article was originally published in Reprinted with permission.