5 Tech Takeaways

By on Nov 25, 2019 in Events, News

NMHC OPTECH 2019 in Dallas was the place to be for multifamily real estate execs seeking strategies to raise their game using technology — especially looking ahead to a likely downturn. In lively peer roundtable discussions and dynamic property and revenue management workshops and sessions, industry insiders dove into the big issues facing multifamily businesses.

Compelling strategies emerged for growing revenue, managing all lease types and improving the customer experience using new technology. Read on for our top five takeaways from this year’s event.


  1. Unleash data

Gone are the days of making business decisions based on guesswork and backward-looking data aggregated into spreadsheets. Today, new technology automates data collection with advanced analytics to provide a complete picture of a portfolio’s opportunities and future risks. That’s big data, and it’s a big deal.

At OPTECH, experts talked about the valuable business intelligence hiding in your company’s data, and how to capture it to improve all operational systems and processes from front office to back office, including revenue management and rental pricing. In the session “Apples to Apples: Getting Clean Consistent Data for Accurate BI” data experts and asset managers discussed evolving corporate best practices in performance data tracking.

Starting with clean, reliable data from a single database for one source of truth is essential. Using a system that leverages that data with machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver predictive analytics with recommended actions is keeping leading companies ahead of the curve.

And don’t forget about futurecasting. You can get a clear picture of potential future income using reliable operational data. Smart forecasting tools drill down to lease level data and also factor in market conditions and industry dynamics, so you can stay agile and plan for what happens next.


  1. Protect information

The “Data Privacy and Protection” roundtable for multifamily owners and managers dug into best practices for safeguarding sensitive information and adhering to all regulations. Pros shared lessons learned from successfully navigating data protection issues and talked about tech solutions that are working for multifamily companies.

Among other legislation, the impact of Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) in the U.S. were covered, along with how multifamily operators must keep up with new laws governing consumer data and privacy.


  1. Modernize marketing

“Digital Marketing and the New Risk Landscape” focused on recent game-changing developments in multifamily marketing technology and how the renter journey is evolving. Using innovative digital tools and popular social channels to engage prospects and inspire resident loyalty while collecting customer data, forward-thinking companies are expanding their strategies while trying to reach renters in new market segments — including co-living and short-term rentals.

Sounds exciting, right? It is. While there are new revenue streams to capture through short-term rentals and co-living spaces, there are also some new risks to consider in your marketing strategy.

ADA digital accessibility requirements for 2020 will impact online marketing and services including property websites and Facebook pages. Changing legal guidelines with regard to collecting and safeguarding customer data must also be followed, so multifamily managers need to abide by these rules in their digital marketing strategies.

Some good advice: move forward with the right marketing software that supports your business goals while embracing industry best practices. Ensure you’re getting the most bang for your marketing buck through multi-touch lead attribution and integrated CRM tools that track every step of the renter journey from the first contact with a prospect to move out.

And don’t forget to brag about your tech-savvy properties in your marketing. Technology is now considered by many renters to be a top amenity (read more about that below) so you should be talking about it to attract new residents and retain current ones.


  1. Smarten up properties

What do today’s renters really want? Smart home technology and self-guided tours, according to the 2020 Apartment Resident Preferences Report presented by NMHC and Kingsley Associates. The national report includes responses from 372,000 apartment residents across the U.S. — making it the largest survey to date.

Self-guided tours are a fantastic complement to your hard-working leasing agents that enhance the prospect experience and ensure a lead is never missed no matter the day or time.

From keyless locks and smart thermostats and lighting to voice control and Wi-Fi as a service, smart apartments make life easier by keeping residents connected, automating daily tasks and reducing costs through more efficient use of utilities. Living in a smart apartment is like having a remote to control almost everything in your home from a phone.

The experts were also clear that smart technology is not just for residents. “In the next 10 years, all buildings will be talking to each other,” Akshai Rao of Yardi stated in the OPTECH panel on intelligent buildings. For property owners, mobile building management systems help reduce operational waste and enable managers to create predictable maintenance plans. Intelligent building panelists shared examples of how technology-enabled operations have allowed them to reduce expenses, improve NOI and deliver a seamless experience to residents.


  1. Offer more leasing options

No longer just a trend, short-term rentals and co-living spaces are popular new living models that can provide compelling revenue streams for multifamily operators in any market — and especially in a downturn. At OPTECH’s Opening Pitches, Paul Yount of Yardi shared with attendees how to meet the demands of today’s renters with flexible leasing.

What are flexible leases? From short-term and corporate rentals to co-living arrangements, flexible leasing covers numerous options to satisfy every type of resident. With new software you can easily manage every type of lease at your properties to capture new renters and keep the revenue flowing.

Ready to raise your game?

OPTECH reinforced that industry leaders are using technology to inform operations, maximize revenue, make marketing decisions, streamline processes and plan for what’s next. Get more insights into how the pros are using tech to be proactive in changing markets and stay ahead of the competition.