Technology has permeated every aspect of our lives, and property technology or PropTech has found a solid foothold in the property management sector.
According to Deloitte, PropTech start-ups have already raised over $43 billion in funding worldwide since 2012. In 2018 alone, there was an 82% increase from the year before.
Covid -19 forced shifts in the way property managers were using technology in 2020 due to the risk of spreading disease. Virtual reality or VR came to the rescue by facilitating virtual tours with a mobile phone or tablet. Although VR will never be the same as experiencing a property in person, it has eliminated health risks during showings.
In addition to health safety, Property technology or PropTech of today has two main functions:
1. It streamlines support of mundane and time-consuming tasks.
2. It attracts business, by making us interact with each other.
Most property management software falls under the software as a service or SaaS classification. With SaaS, the software is hosted virtually, can be accessed 24/7, and is billed by monthly or yearly subscriptions or per unit. Cloud storage saves time, increases communication, and increases security.
Have you ever wondered what Amazon does with your buying information, or if Google stores your search history? These tech goliaths store user information to predict buying patterns, activities, and a range of other consumer activities. This information is called Big Data, and in property management, customer relationship management tools track traffic on your website and provide reports that offer insight into tenant, employee, and business performance.
In this blog article, we’ll look at property technology tools that simplify:
- Tenant lead scheduling
- Virtual tours
- Tenant screening
- Property management/operations
- Digital forms
- Home efficiency and security – Smart homes
- Marketing and Maintenance – Drones
- Analyzing and collecting data – Internet of Thing (IoT)
PropTech tools for organization:
Property managers juggle a huge variety of detailed tasks with clients, tenants, and vendors. These property technology tools help keep you sane.
Trello keeps you and your team organized and on track by combining a team playbook, a productivity platform with app integration, and synchronization across all devices such as your cell and laptop.
Todolist lets you organize and categorize everything from your grocery lists to your daily work tasks while sharing and collaborating tasks. With Todolist you can set short and long-term goals and see your productivity trends. It integrates into many other programs, too, such as Dropbox, Slack, and Amazon Alexa/Echo.
Asana takes the work team’s goals one step further by sharing and assigning goals, plans, tasks, and files in one shared space. Teams can instantly see who is doing what, what they’ve done, and what needs doing. Boards define work priorities and help teams focus on what’s urgent.
Evernote’s claim to fame is its note-taking feature. However, it does much more, such as scheduling, scanning, and storing web pages. By pointing your camera at business cards, Evernote automatically stores the information in your address book. The Web Clipper allows you to save web pages for reading when you have time. It also links to LinkedIn profiles.
Are you spending too much time on the phone? There’s an app for that too! Forest is an app that keeps you focused on whatever you’re doing in the present by planting a virtual tree. While you’re in the present, the tree thrives, leaving makes the virtual tree die.
Proptech for tenant lead scheduling
Most property managers will tell you that answering calls, scheduling showing times for tenant leads is a huge time suck mostly because very few of the leads result in qualified tenants. These property technology tools reduce time spent qualifying tenant leads.
Tenant Turner takes care of your phone calls and emails with pre-set standardized, fair housing screening criteria questions, then scores the leads. Calls can be answered digitally or with a live service. Only qualified leads get access to your calendar. Once they’re scheduled, you can assign the showing, do it yourself and use electronic lockboxes, combo lockboxes, or a key checkout. After the showing, tenant leads provide a 1-5 rating and rental comments, which are collected in an owner report, that’s automatically sent.
TenantCloud has a leads tracking tool that allows you to see all prospective tenants along with their questions, tour requests or rental applications. It also provides a screening report from the application.
With Cozy, once your listing is activated, you can send renters a link to an application in either email or text. Tenants can apply with any device. If tenants qualify and want to move forward, they pay for the screening report, including background checks and credit reports.
Virtually Incredible has live agents answering calls in under 2 minutes, uses your apps to screen qualified tenants for credit and criminal history, and can run audits to streamline your process and align your business to comply with federal regulations. It also provides property video tours.
Anyone Home’s claim to fame is having all lead and resident information in one location. Interested prospects fill out a guest card through the leasing chatbox and are ushered to the CRM and property management software systems. The online tour scheduler provides either self-guided or agent-led showings.
PropTech for virtual tours
Although virtual tours existed before Covid, since 2019, they’ve become a critical method of conducting showings without physical interaction. Virtual tours can provide a safe, 3D experience for all concerned.
Zoom virtual tours offer an immersive, live, and safe experience by simply scheduling a conference meeting and adding it to your calendar. One or more people can be invited. You can join the meeting from your phone or laptop and walk around the property with your headset answering questions. No masks required.
Avatour allows you to invite remote guests to visit a property in real-time using 360° capture technology, a selfie stick, and an audio headset. Guests can access the tour with any browser and a smartphone, tablet, or a VR headset.
Zinspector, originally designed for property inspections, takes your photos and videos and strings them together to create a 3-D virtual property tour.
Zillow 3D Home app, download the app, take photos with your iPhone or camera, and upload tours to as many listings as you want – for free. It only works for U.S. mobile numbers.
Matterport, free 3D technology for your iPhone or iPad, forms an interactive 3D or VR photography tour of up to 20 locations within a rental property. Great for multi-family units.
Proptech property management software
Property management software has come soooo far in the last decade. Most property management software programs facilitate:
· communication between residents and staff
· document storage
· streamlining and tracking maintenance requests
· accepting online payments and lease renewals
· move in/move out inspection reports
· booking and paying for amenities and spaces
· tenant screening
Some even promote company branding and boost revenue by offering access to third party providers.
Active Building provides self-service options to tenants for online payments, renewals, maintenance requests, and renters insurance. Do your tenants need a dry cleaner, childcare, or a dog walker? They can access these providers through Active Building, which produces additional revenue for you. Active Building also has its own messaging system and booking system for amenities, spaces, and events.
Appfolio, another giant in the SAAS property management software arena, caters to residential, commercial, student housing, and community associations with an owner portal, online maintenance center, marketing, rental, leasing, accounting, and reporting management features.
Buildium has been in existence since 2004 and offers cloud-based software that covers all aspects of property management, including managing property portfolios, accounting, operations, leasing, onboarding, and data security. It also streamlines the listings, applications, showings, screening, and leasing process.
Rentec is for landlords with a few properties or property managers with large portfolios. It offers bank, property, and tenant accounting, tracks income and expenses, completes tenant screening, and markets vacant properties. Tenants can pay their rent online or through an app.
Proptech for tenant screening
For landlords with one or two properties, having a few digital services may work just fine. Tenant screening is one of the must-haves; accounting and digital forms are two others.
Singlekey provides a full Equifax credit report, a social media check, and a public document scan for criminal records, court decisions, negative press, etc. With Singlekey, you only pay per report.
Tenant Verification Services or TVS is a membership-based tenant screening service. Members pay a one-time fee and have access to either a TransUnion report, Equifax credit report, and two levels of criminal record searches. Members pay a separate fee for each report.
Naborly started as a free service for landlords but now charges $25 per report. The way it works is the landlord sends an online link for a rental application to the potential tenant. The tenant completes the online form and submits it to Naborly. Naborly runs an Equifax, background check and provides a Naborly score of the tenant to the landlord.
Quickbooks Online connects to your bank accounts, credit cards, and PayPal accounts to download all income and expenses. It suggests tax categories and runs reports to show you how your business is performing.
Wave’s software connects your bank accounts, balances your books, scans invoices and receipts, sends bill and invoice reminders, and tracks/synchronizes your expenses. For free.
For those property managers who like to hand their bookkeeping off to a person, virtually, there are programs for that too.
Planet Synergy offers virtual assistant services to property managers in the areas of accounting, invoicing, marketing, rent payments and lease agreements, among others.
OJO Bookkeeping provides virtual bookkeeping services to property managers and has virtual bookkeeper experts in Appfolio and Buildium. They also offer tenant move-in and move-out reports, process management fees and owner disbursements, and provide financial diagnostics.
As a landlord, it’s critically important to make sure your paperwork is following the legal processes and is securely stored. Here are some digital cloud storage form solutions that save time and fast track the cumbersome paperwork process.
property managers with tenant applications and contracts with signature fields that comply with legal requirements.
Gocanvas has customizable templates with signature lines for rental agreements, tenant screening forms, and maintenance contracts for residential and commercial property management.
With Google Forms, you can customize forms with drag-and-drop questions. Forms require an action of clicking to indicate agreement of the terms, so they are legally binding and free with your Google account.
Home efficiency and security – SMART HOMES
Technology has connected everything to everybody. It’s also spoiled us. Who doesn’t love having Alexa or Siri wake them up with a favorite song and the smell of freshly brewed coffee? People have been increasingly demanding technological conveniences as a staple of their homes. Temperature control, lighting, window coverings, security, and even feeding your pet can all be automated with SMART Homes.
With interconnectivity comes the threat of cybersecurity, and technology always has to be one step ahead of cybercriminals by mapping and securing access points. Although Smart locks are replacing deadbolts, some require a fob or a phone. Stonelock takes security to an unprecedented level. Stonelock is a camera/surveillance system that captures an infrared image of a person and turns it into a multi-colored image. The surveillance system identifies authorized images and blocks unauthorized images.
Maintenance and marketing – DRONES
If you ever worry about whether you’re getting a comprehensive assessment of a roof or parking lot by sending in one person, drones can become your best friend. Drones have become a useful property technology maintenance tool for both residential and commercial buildings. They can safely take thermal images of difficult to reach places to evaluate damage or decay.
They’re also excellent marketing tools as tenants can view images from the inside, outside or experience the neighborhood sights from the balcony.
Drone Base is a company that provides aerial imagery services such as parking lot inspections, roof and equipment inspections, marketing, and drone insight reports for property management.
DroneDeploy deploys drone pilots to inspect roofing, conduct inspections on HVAC systems, landscaping, and building interiors.
Analyzing and collecting data – INTERNET OF THINGS (IOT)
Collecting individual data on air quality, humidity or waste would take hundreds of billable hours and numerous contractors. That’s the genius of IoT. IoT can turn any physical object or piece of equipment into a data mining device by installing a smart sensor.
Waste Solutions Canada provides environmental and cost reports of waste collection with smart sensor technology.
Philips Hue makes you the complete master of your lighting domain. Choose from 16 million colours that you can; sync to films and music, change to warm or cool tones, wake up to your version of a sunrise, and set lighting schedules and control lighting from your phone.
Parrot Pot is a flower pot with built-in sensors that monitor and water your plant so that it can flourish without you.
Is your head spinning? Property Technology is embedded in the fabric of property management. It will continue to provide more sophisticated solutions to every aspect of property management now and in the future.
Interested in hearing more about property management?