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San Diego Business Journal profiles PayLease’s smart apartment solution

Smart technology has quickly become one of the most sought-after amenities in multifamily communities. And that couldn’t be more true than here in San Diego, PayLease’s headquarters, and one of the nation’s top tech hubs. So it’s no surprise that the San Diego Business Journal wanted the scoop on the benefits that it brings to property operators and residents living in multifamily communities. Our CEO, Dirk Wakeham, was invited to chat with the Business Journal to discuss what’s driving so many communities to go smart. Here are the highlights.

Remote Access & Setting Controls

A big perk of smart apartment technology for community managers and residents is that it enables better control over units, ultimately making life easier for renters. From a resident perspective, they can use their cellphone to remotely control settings in their apartment, like lights and the thermostat. Smart locks also let them unlock doors remotely without relying on their property manager.

“Residents can issue temporary codes to their guests, house cleaner, dog walker – all of that,” says Wakeham. And, because the access code expires, they don’t have to worry about someone having continual access to their home like they would if the visitor had a physical key.

Building owners can use the same technology to monitor and control vacant units. Communities in humid environments find this especially valuable since mold can easily accumulate if moisture develops. For colder climates, smart technology helps property managers avoid frozen pipes, which can cause extensive water damage should the pipe burst.

Increased Rent Premiums

Perhaps smart technology’s biggest draw for apartment operators is the promise of increased rent premiums. On average, multifamily communities with smart technology in place can command $15 to $25 more in rent than apartments that do not have it. Wakeham agrees. “Residents are more than willing to pay a rent premium to get access to those technologies. We are seeing an increased demand.”

And because there is such a strong demand for smart apartments, owners can invest in these technologies and see an ROI within a relatively short time window. “The residents are what’s driving the demand for these services. With millenials, they want everything online.”

Flexible Apartment Tours With Higher Close Rates

Smart technology is also proving a valuable leasing tool. Property owners are using smart locks to make apartment tours more flexible for prospective residents. Thanks to temporary access codes, prospective residents can now tour an apartment on their own schedule.

Often times, what works for a prospect is outside of the leasing office hours, so communities are able to accomodate more tours – without a sales agent hovering over them. “They want to go look at it, stand in it, and not have the property agent look on. They want to do it themselves. They don’t want to be pitched.”

As it turns out, not having a “pitch” is more effective. Wakeham says that preliminary data shows that self-guided leasing tours have a higher close rate than tours that are led by a leasing agent.

Ultimately, property owners nationwide are finding that smart technology not only attracts (and retains) residents, but helps them manage their business. “Renters want to be connected and managers want to drive NOI (net operating income), so our goal is to make these technologies more accessible.”

The full version of San Diego Business Journal’s article can be read here.

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