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Proptech has potential to transform multi-family real estate

Property technology (proptech) initially served as a way to help building owners operate their properties more efficiently. However, it’s quickly become a method of attracting and retaining tenants — especially in the multi-family real estate sector, Urban Land reports. In fact, with so many proptech options available to building owners, these platforms could transform the multi-family sector altogether.

Here are four ways proptech could alter the future of multi-family.

Added convenience

Technology firm SmartRent’s platform allows prospective tenants to schedule an online tour and unlock a unit’s Bluetooth-enabled smart lock (once they’ve verified their identity) and look around without a rental agent. Once prospects become tenants, they can use SmartRent’s tech to control their thermostat and lights remotely or let a food delivery employee in the through the building’s front door with their mobile device.

Meanwhile, building managers can use the platform to monitor and control the property more efficiently through the SmartRent website or mobile app. They can save time on tasks like checking work order statuses or confirming cars in the parking lot belong to tenants. Additionally, landlords may find it financially beneficial to make their buildings smart as tenants might be willing to pay more in rent per month if they know will have conveniences like controlling their thermostats remotely, according to Urban Land.

Simpler transaction management

Proptech company Dealpath has helped real estate firms manage the large amounts of data that often come with their investment decisions. Dealpath co-founder and CEO Mike Sroka noted companies spent a lot of time dealing with data manually when the company started 9 years ago.  The lack of a common data structure cost teams a lot of time, money and energy. Complex workflows for transactions made things worse, as multiple internal teams had to get involved.

With Dealpath’s information management platform, clients have evaluated 20 percent more deals than before, with 30 percent fewer errors in underwriting and due diligence, Sroka told Urban Land. Since its inception, Dealpath has supported $10 trillion in transactions. The firm initially focused on single-tenant net lease retail transactions before handling property types such as multi-family residential, development projects and financing.

Meanwhile, Canada-based Ownly, helps streamline home purchases by letting homebuyers secure a mortgage, select the architectural style and pick out décor on a single platform. Ownly CEO and co-founder Jason Hardy said he also sees a “massive opportunity” in making multi-family building unit sales just as efficient.

“The piece that we’re really focused upon right now is providing real-time insights into the buying power and capability of a potential buyer, and then giving that power to the seller,” Hardy told Urban Land. “It allows them to deal with what we call ‘verified buyers.’ ”

Learn what tenants want ahead of time

Multi-family residential developers should be looking at forward-looking data to help with their decision making rather than the opposite, according to Jason Moore, co-founder and COO of proptech startup RCKRBX. The company looks to disrupt the multi-family sector by using similar opinion research techniques that political campaigns implement.

Developers can take the polling data in RCKRBX’s platform to look at a specific area and see how survey participants would react to their project. Survey participants’ income level, demographics and age are all verified. With this information, developers can determine the room size, building amenities, apartment configuration that would attract potential tenants—all before the project begins.

“You’re now really able to model out how that new project or repositioned asset ultimately is going to perform,” Michael Broder, RCKRBX cofounder, president, and chief executive officer told Urban Land. “You’re now able to hear directly from those populations who are most likely to consider and choose that particular project in that particular submarket and understand where those rent rates and demand levels are, and what is really accretive to those factors, based on what’s important to those populations.”

Rewards for Tenants

Attracting tenants can be challenging, so once they’re in place, it’s critical landlords do what they can to keep them. Proptech could be key in “how to get the best tenants in and keep those tenants happy and paying their rent on time and getting them to renew,” Olive Tree Ventures Jeremy Kaner told Urban Land.

Startup company Stake looks to transform landlords and tenants’ financial relationship by providing cash-back rewards for paying rent on time or early lease renewals. Stake co-founder and CEO Rowland Hobbs feels landlords should attempt the approach as it’s proven successful for credit card companies, airlines and retailers.

Landlords can use Stake’s dashboard to customize their rewards — reduce delinquency rates for studio apartments or the time needed to rent three-bedroom units, according to Hobbs. Such financial benefits could help a building stand out from neighboring properties.

“It’s such a blue ocean of opportunity,” Ian Bel, managing principal and chief executive of Olive Tree Holdings and a strategic adviser to Stake, told Urban Land. “We don’t think there’s one killer app that’s the panacea of the industry. We think there are a lot of killer apps.”

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