Home-buying and -selling may be the most profitable segments of the real estate industry, but the rental market is the underlying factor that helps new agents build their initial contact database, which in most cases turns into buyer business. Rentals, however, are not what they used to be. In an effort to attract more tenants, landlords are adding unique amenities and putting technology at the forefront of their services. Real estate professionals should stay on top of these trends; finding memorable rental properties for clients can translate into a renter who sticks by their agent and eventually becomes a loyal buyer.
Here are some stand-out tech offerings that are being implemented in today’s rental market:
Payment and Maintenance Tracking Apps
Although these are touted as all-in-one service apps, they are better used hand-in-hand with agent collaboration. With one app, Rentalutions, landlords can create their listing on the app and send it out to Zillow, Trulia and Hotpads—but including a real estate agent in the mix is the most effective way to market the rental and add industry expertise into the process. A real estate agent also adds the bonus of MLS marketing, in-house visibility and secure leases. While the app also includes the option of screening tenants, allowing a real estate agent to complete the initial vetting saves landlords from having to waste their time on inauthentic leads.
Most of these apps shine once leases are signed and tenants are in the building. For example, Landlordy can simplify the rental payment process by allowing tenants to pay via the app. This reduces the chances of bounced checks and is an easier way for tenants to pay their rent. Many of these apps also include maintenance tracking—a noteworthy bonus that organizes the chaos of multi-unit requests and keeps everyone up-to-date on the process and resolution of repairs.
Even payments are changing in the rental world. What was once thought to be a short-lived fad, cryptocurrency is now making its way into the rental market. There are a few apps that can process cryptocurrency payments for rent and security deposits. One app, Rentberry, focuses on long-term rentals and uses its own form of cryptocurrency, BERRY tokens, which the company says can save tenants money through a crowdsourced approach to rental security deposits. Through ManageGo, tenants can pay their rent in either Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. This is not yet a mainstream practice in the industry, but has become more popular in the last few years.
High-Tech Fitness Centers
According to the 2017 National Multifamily Housing Council and Kingsley Apartment Renter Preferences Report, of the more than 272,000 apartment residents that were surveyed, 55 percent say they would not rent an apartment without a fitness center; however, a couple of old ellipticals aren’t enough anymore. Tenants want modern tech that distracts them from the fact that they are working out. Monitors on machines now do everything from playing music and TV to also providing games. Most of all, tenants want to be able to track their progress. Newer cardio machines are Bluetooth-compatible, allowing tenants to sync the machine to their fitness apps to track and save workouts.
The world is abuzz with the modern, artificial intelligence gadgetry that is making its way into homes, and rental units aren’t far behind. Although they are currently few and far between, smart apartments might be where the rental industry is headed. This type of tech is exactly what commands renters’ interest, even if it means they have to pay a premium. Connecting appliances with Bluetooth adds a level of convenience that many tenants wouldn’t mind paying more for in rent. A few apartments allow tenants to use their phones or voice-assistant software in order to slide out hidden beds that save space, see what’s inside their refrigerator before opening it, make coffee, and even benefit from mechanized storage that uses robots to transport bins.
As new apartments are built, the real estate industry can expect to see a rise in the amount of tech that is introduced in rental living spaces. Courtyards and common areas may still be popular, but tenants—especially those of the younger generations—are looking for ways to continue establishing themselves as tech experts. Agents should familiarize themselves as well; tech is constantly changing and so will the related rental amenities.