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Future of Property Management: Top Trends for 2020 Based on What Residents Want

March 10, 2020

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Today’s residents are complicated and while mind-reading is unfortunately not yet possible, we can get pretty close by predicting and anticipating their expectations based on their behaviors and what they value.

Already, it’s clear that 2020 is a year for change in property management and a year for needing to meet residents’ growing expectations of their apartments.

It’s definitely not a fact that our industry loves, but one we need to accept.

Here are the top trends for the future of property management and how your business can hop on the speeding train:

1. Smart Home Technology

Yes, we know as a property manager or owner, the absolute LAST thing you want to do is upgrade the technology used in your units. However, don’t you want future-you to thank current-you for planning ahead and ensuring the continued success of your business?

Related: 5 Precautionary Steps to Help Future-Proof Your Property By Making It Stand Out in a Downturn

While it might seem like it’s moving at a breakneck pace, technology is just trying to keep up with modern resident lifestyles. So, you’ll need to keep up with property management technology:

Smartlocker Storage

We’re in the era of Amazon — a time where you can buy anything from a whole new closet of clothes to all the cleaning supplies you could possibly need for your kitchen. On top of that, all of it can arrive in two days. Residents love two-day shipping almost as much as they love properties that don’t charge an extra fee for their furry best friends.

However, with convenient online purchasing and shipping comes the need for safe package delivery.

Currently, 1.7 million packages are stolen or lost every day in the United States. This has made safe package delivery and storage a high priority for today’s residents. It’s practically a tragedy when that package of toilet paper gets stolen (because, yes, Amazon now delivers toilet paper).

Residents often are not home when packages get delivered and Smartlocker Storage can allow your residents to go about their day with peace of mind and pick up parcels when they can.

Story time... Let’s take a look at an average resident, we can call her Natalie Shopista, and her biggest pain point with her current apartment: inconvenient package delivery.

Natalie loves to shop online; with a full-time job and a growing social life, it is the most convenient way to get what she needs. However, she can never pick up her packages in a timely fashion. For starters, her packages always get left at the leasing office and while that’s only two floors below her apartment, her normal 8-5 job (which is really 7-6 because city traffic is awful), doesn’t allow her time to pick up her packages. Due to the leasing office’s strict weekday business hours, she must wait until Saturday every week to pick up her packages. On top of that, the leasing office has already lost two of her packages because there is just too much to keep track of.

Being that online shopping is such an integral part of Natalie’s routine, it’s likely she won’t be re-signing her lease and will be searching for a place that meets her needs.

With technology like Smartlocker storage, rather than packages being left at your resident’s front door or lost in a busy leasing office, they will be stored in a safe, locked space on your property. This storage unit will be connected to an app that notifies your residents whenever a package is left and a code to unlock it when they are ready to pick it up.

Energy-Saving Devices

If your property is not getting with the “green” program — it’s time to.

Residents have moved past solely looking outward to help the environment and have started to look inward, at home, for ways to be more sustainable.

Here’s a quick list of green features that residents value in a community:

  • Smart thermostats
  • LED lighting
  • Recycling
  • Community compost
  • Water-saving plumbing (dual-flush toilet, low-flow showerhead, etc.)
  • Air purifier
  • Increased natural lighting
  • Reflective roofs

Quick Marketing Tip: If and when you have these apartment green features,

share it loudly and proudly on your website and social media.

Want to meet residents’ green expectations even closer? Green certify your property by becoming LEED Certified.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and this tells residents that your property cares about what they care about.

Rent Automation

Rent automation is now a feature residents expect their rental properties and apartments to offer. It is the ability to streamline payment processes electronically.

Not only will incorporating this increase positive resident experience, but it will also save you valuable time. If we’re honest, not many things can do that in this industry.

Processing each invoice and rent payment manually, confirming payments and juggling the paperwork for your own expense payments is extremely time-consuming and just not worth it. Automation is a necessity for the property management industry in 2020.

2. Self-Guided Tours

Moving on from smart home technology, we now have a trend that is actually tech-less — self-guided property tours for future residents.

By offering self-guided tours, you will discover that your property can accommodate significantly more tours per day, use less staff time, and experience a higher conversion rate.

Residents desire convenience — throughout all stages of the renter lifecycle. The flexibility that a self-guided tour brings to the otherwise grueling apartment search is seen as a huge benefit to residents and creates a more comfortable environment.

Less pressure = more leases.

Additionally, when a resident is on a self-guided tour, they have more room to connect with the space and imagine what their life could be like at your property.

3. Focus on Gen Z

Generation Z kids might be running around saying silly things like “ok boomer,” but they are also entering the rental market in droves — and 2020 will see the biggest wave yet.

While Millennials still make up a good portion of today’s property rental market, being a property manager or owner means looking to the future.

We mention a shift in focus to Gen Z alongside smart home technology trends for a reason.

Gen Z has lived their entire lives with technology deeply ingrained in their every waking moment. We joke about how the younger generation wouldn’t know how to have fun without a phone or tablet in front of their face, but knowing how prevalent technology is for this generation is something you can use to your advantage.

As they start to make up a good portion of the market, property managers need to be equipped to meet their standards.

The top thing you should do is update your website to include all of your upgraded amenities (including the smart home tech and green features mentioned above):

  • Online payments
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Charging stations
  • Keyless door lock
  • High-tech fitness centers
  • Fireplaces
  • Outdoor heaters
  • Energy-saving appliances

The more you market to Gen Z now, the more new-generation residents you’ll have in the future.

The Future of Property Management Is Now

You know that saying about how being 15 minutes early is on time and on time is late?

Well, that concept is the same when it comes to property management teams preparing for the future of this industry. If you wait for the future to start changing, then you’ll be behind the eight ball — the future is now.

Prospective residents won’t wait for your property to offer what they want in six months, they’ll find a property that can provide them with smart home technology and green features now.