10 Smart Technology Upgrades for Multifamily Communities

By: Kathryn Casna

According to Zego’s 2023 Resident Experience Management Report, 75% of apartment operators say residents expectations have risen in the past year. One of the main areas residents have higher expectations? Technology. More than a third of renters (39%) expect better in-unit technology like smart locks and thermostats.

Clearly, smarter technology creates higher resident satisfaction. But is that enough of a reason to invest in smart tech for your multifamily community? If it’s not, then consider this: That same report shows turnover costs communities nearly $4,000 per resident.

While in-unit smart devices can make a huge difference in resident satisfaction and operational efficiencies—which ultimately means a boost in revenue, savings, or both—they are not the only proptech that can improve your NOI. Consider making one or more of these upgrades to retain renters and stay ahead of your competition.

10 smart technology upgrades changing the game for multifamily communities

1. Community WiFi

According to the Zego report, 51% of residents have higher expectations for community technology—including managed WiFi. When you manage your own WiFi, you provide higher resident satisfaction, free yourself from relying on internet providers, and add a revenue stream to your community.

Learn more about Community WiFi, our cutting-edge managed WiFi solution.

2. Access Control

According to Parks and Associates, 17% of multifamily dwellers live in gated communities and 11% have smart access control systems. Communities with these access control options charge more rent than those that don’t have them. App-based access solutions—like SmartRent’s—can boost rent 5% above average rental rates. Residents especially love the ability to grant temporary access to guests and delivery drivers.

Smart access control can also save your community money. There are no rekeying costs for PIN or mobile access options. And you don’t have to staff anyone on site to deal with lockouts or vendor access because doors can be opened remotely.

3. Work Order Management

Most of the residents (86%) surveyed in the Zego report said the appearance of a community is “essential” or “very important” in their future lease decisions. Unfortunately, property managers say their top three challenges when it comes to resident experience are:

  1. Keeping the property visually appealing and modernized

  2. Managing repairs and maintenance

  3. Communicating effectively with residents

The key to bridging these gaps is smarter work order management. SmartRent’s Work Management solution mobilizes your technicians by delivering work orders, resident communications, and urgent alerts directly to their smartphones. Your team members can react quickly to emergencies and stay on top of preventative maintenance without breaking a sweat.

Residents can request maintenance using their resident app, and the solution automatically assigns a technician based on skill level, proximity, and workload. The app alerts the resident when the technician enters the home, and notifies them again when the work is completed.

4. Self-Guided Tours

One of the biggest challenges in filling vacancies is giving tours. Either prospects have to work around your leasing hours or members of your staff have to work more hours. But if you empower apartment hunters to tour your community on their own time, they benefit from a pressure-free experience, and your staff benefits from fewer disruptions.

By making tours more convenient to prospective renters, you can increase tour volume. One company who switched to SmartRent’s Self Guided Tours solution boosted weekly tours by 60%.

Self-guided tours allow prospects to enter your community, navigate to amenities, and check out the units they’re interested in—all without any effort from on-site staff. These tours also allow your leasing team to add personalized touchpoints before, during, and after the tour.

5. Smart Parking Technology

As renters become accustomed to technology-enabled solutions, simply having off-site parking options isn’t enough. You need to deliver convenient parking access, fast space-finding, and parking options for guests.

Smart Parking can help with all of that. An easily scanned window decal allows residents to enter a lot quickly. Parking sensors direct them to open spaces. And residents can share temporary parking credentials with guests and vendors.

Connect Smart Parking to your PMS, and site teams don’t have to manage parking manually, freeing them to focus their attention elsewhere. Some communities even monetize their parking areas for an additional revenue stream.

6. Smart Package Rooms

If you’ve been in your community’s package room during the holidays, you know seasonal volume can be overwhelming for both residents and staff. With how much residents rely on delivery services these days, smooth package management is more important than ever.

Smart Package Rooms are the solution. This AI-based technology makes it easy for residents and couriers to handle packages in seconds, all while keeping your offices and walkways clear and your staff focused on more important tasks.

7. Audit Management

Having an accurate picture of your assets and finances is critical for making smart business decisions. Unfortunately, conducting an audit takes time, and it pulls staff away from revenue-generating activities. And that’s why smart audit management can help your bottom line.

The right audit management system can pull data from property management software you already use so you avoid duplicating work. You can build templates to make HUD and Affordable Housing reporting consistent. And AI can automatically crunch the numbers and give you a snapshot of your rent roll, deposits, and lease files.

8. Inspection Management

Digital inspection-management software is an unsung hero of proptech. Just ask the real estate investment company Cortland. It boosted portfolio growth by 145% by making inspections far more efficient and thorough than manual paper versions.

Cortland closes around 30 acquisition deals a year, but inspectors were walking only about 10% of the units in any given community. Now inspectors walk them all using the SmartRent mobile app.

Digital inspection management also helps coordinate between on-site and off-site team members, gives owners real-time data (even mid-inspection), and ensures consistency in every inspection.

9. Answer Automation

The renters surveyed in Zego’s 2023 Resident Experience Management Report ranked a “technology-enabled lifestyle” as the most important aspect of the resident experience. The aspect they ranked No. 2 was “management communication and responsiveness.” Answer automation delivers both of these things in a single solution.

Answer Automation uses natural language processing (NLP) to listen to resident inquiries, respond to easy requests, and escalate calls to team members when necessary. It ensures every call is answered immediately and residents get a personalized experience without overwhelming your team members or necessitating around-the-clock staffing.

10. Resident App & Experience

Given how important communication is to resident satisfaction, it’s no surprise that providing a resident app is central to SmartRent’s smart technology solutions. But it’s also a resident’s gateway to all the devices and other tech in their homes.

With it, residents can:

  • Move in and out without waiting for staff assistance

  • Set up their WiFi in seconds and manage it as needed

  • Control smart locks, thermostats, and lighting

  • Create and share access codes to let in guests, delivery drivers, and service people.

  • Submit maintenance requests and other inquiries, 24/7

  • Receive community updates and event announcements

  • Personalize their dashboards to prioritize their favorite widgets

Learn more about the SmartRent Resident App and Experience.

What future trends are coming to multifamily technology?

New technologies are sweeping the multifamily industry. The most successful advances will improve the resident experience and introduce greater efficiencies for community management.

Widespread EV Charging

Only about 5% of apartment communities have charging stations for electric vehicles, but some real estate leaders predict EVs could make up 90% of the car market as soon as 2050. When that happens, EV charging will become as important as off-street parking. EV charging stations will also empower you to make your own fleet electric—reducing your carbon footprint and rocketing you toward ESG targets.

Augmented and virtual reality

Immersive technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are for more than just gaming and futuristic exercise. They can create realistic experiences for prospects and staff.

Apartment hunters will use VR headsets to tour your communities completely remotely. They’ll also use smartphones to take pictures of their furniture and digitally design their new home. Long before moving day, they’ll know whether grandma’s china hutch will fit in the dining room—or if they need a larger unit.

Hiring and retaining skilled maintenance staff is harder than ever, so many owners and operators are turning to internal training to upskill or reskill current staff. VR training can give these employees near-hands-on experience, better preparing them to tackle maintenance in the field.

Smartwatch entry

The near-universal adoption of smartphones has been game-changing for proptech. Notably, residents and staff can now use their smartphones to unlock doors throughout a community. The next up-and-coming device? Smartwatches. Soon people won’t have to dig in pockets or purses for their phones—or even open an app—to enter their home or common areas.

AI-assisted maintenance

We’ve already started using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve predictive maintenance, but in the future that will become common. Our Work Management and Asset Management platforms collect data about everything in your community. Maintenance teams use this data to keep an eye on equipment life expectancies. Technicians note when they maintain or replace equipment. And AI does the math and sends out preemptive alerts.

In the future, AI will eliminate the need for manual notes. Instead of pausing to type up the results of a unit visit, technicians will be able to speak details into an app. Improved Natural Language Processing (NLP) will help identify and match verbal references to pieces of equipment and format the information into usable data.

How does proptech benefit owners and property managers in multifamily communities?

Investments in proptech are investments in efficiency and profitability. They help improve both sides of the NOI equation in a variety of ways:

  • Staffing efficiencies: Site-team members spend less time on repetitive, low-value tasks and more time on revenue-generating tasks.

  • Energy savings: Remote control and timed presets mean HVAC and lighting use less power.

  • Asset protection: Sensors and access control logs help you keep an eye on your communities.

  • Additional revenue streams: You can upsell residents for amenities like community WiFi, smart parking, and video intercoms.

  • Higher rent rates: Renters are willing to pay more for the convenient lifestyle smart technology provides.

  • Greater resident retention: Residents are less likely to be lured to other communities if they already have the amenities they want.

  • Centralization: Remote management capabilities mean you need less on-site staff and share more resources among multiple properties.

  • Lower vacancy rates: Turn units faster, give more tours, and move residents in without being on site.

How does proptech benefit renters and residents in multifamily communities?

Residents love smart technology because it makes their lives better.

  • Easy staff communication: The resident app enables maintenance requests, community announcements, and answer automation.

  • Personalized attention: Fewer repetitive tasks mean staff can spend more time caring for residents.

  • Peace of mind: Alerts keep residents in the know about their homes and possessions.

  • Remote guest access: Residents can create access codes from anywhere to let in friends and delivery drivers.

  • Convenient living: Hands-free entry, lighting presets, and automated scenes improve daily life.

What’s next for your smart community?

Residents want smart technology. Site teams get more done when they use proptech. And despite the fact that upgrades like these require an upfront investment, owners and operators typically come out on top. Smart technology often pays for itself in cost savings or revenue boosts—and sometimes both.

With everyone benefitting from smart technology, the appetite for upgrades will only grow. That’s why your tech stack should, too. If you’re not sure which upgrades are right for your community, request a demo and we’ll help you figure it out.