Standout Leaders in Real Estate Tech from IMN Middle Market Multifamily Forum
Value-add multifamily projects are a key offering here at RealtyShares. We’ve seen steady drops in vacancy, increases in average annual rents and relatively low volatility, with average cap rates today hovering around 4.2 percent. The historic resilience of multifamily assets to market downturns when compared to other commercial asset classes make this a potentially stable option for an investor’s portfolio.
We’re not the only ones who feel this way. I had the honor of speaking at the Information Management Network Middle Market Multifamily Forum earlier in the month, surrounded by others who see the potential of this asset class. With so much opportunity and innovation flooding into the space, it’s becoming evident that we are in the early stages of a reformation fueled by technology advances within multifamily.
My team saw many standout businesses creating innovative and useful applications that already influence how we in the real estate industry do business. Three companies in particular stood out to me as noteworthy leaders that are challenging assumptions and disrupting pieces of the industry through smart, forward-looking technology-driven products and services.
Upgrading utilities is one of the biggest challenges for multifamily property owners. PointCentral might have a solution that could not only bring modern options to their units but may also save them a bundle. The company brings smart features into existing rental units in a way that delivers a solid return on investment for property owners and landlords.
PointCentral offers opportunities to improve rents by up to $45 per month through the installation of smart thermostats, smart locks, and even Alexa as value-add features for tenants. The owners get better data about how tenants use the property, and smart thermostat features can save money for both landlords and tenants depending on utility billing arrangements. It works out to a win-win for both owners and renters.
The company offers solutions for vacation rentals (think Airbnb), single-family rental properties, and multi-family properties with many units. It works for smaller scale landlords, and can scale up to enterprise-scale for property management companies with hundreds or thousands of units. Improved property awareness include access monitoring, energy management, HVAC monitoring, and water monitoring. With these solutions in place, you can detect leaks and problems before they cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars, and your tenants get a better rental experience at the same time.
As a homeowner, one of the things I miss least about renting is the security deposit. No renters like handing over a big check at move-in, and many are terrified about even the smallest damage that might siphon away funds when they move out. LeaseLock replaces the security deposit with something completely new and different: insurance that saves renters thousands at move-in while providing better protection to property owners.
With LeaseLock, renters pay a flat fee starting at $29 per month. That monthly fee replaces any upfront security deposit required by the property (renters still need their own renter’s insurance for their possessions). If anything is damaged or rent payments go missing, LeaseLock pays instead of dinging the renter’s security deposit. Their case studies indicate that offering LeaseLock as an option significantly reduces vacancies. Plus it benefits renters from lower move-in costs and a possibility of renting without a cosigner.
For property owners, benefits are capped at 6x monthly rent, which is far more than is typically collected with security deposits. Plus it helps convert more leases and increases overall occupancy, putting more dollars in your pocket. Like PointCentral, this appears to be a clear win-win for renters and property managers with no major downsides for either.
To manage your personal finances in one place, there are apps like Mint and Personal Capital. For airline miles and points, you can track everything in AwardWallet. Many businesses use an accounting tool like QuickBooks or Xero to manage their property business in one place, but those apps may leave something to be desired for property managers. That’s where Appfolio fits in. Think of Appfolio like Mint for your real estate business.
Appfolio is an all-in-one platform where property managers can run their entire business from one handy dashboard. It is optimized for residential, commercial, student housing, and HOAs, and you can handle everything from leasing and payments to maintenance requests through the handy portal.
For owners, you can login and view live financial, maintenance, tenant, applicant, vacancy, and other data in one place. You can also turn on a feature for your renter’s to log into their own account to handle their application (with tenant screening), lease documents, and communication. Renters can enter maintenance requests online, and you can track the work order through the portal. Really, this app provides everything you may need to run the properties in one package. The cloud-based software charges $0.80 cents per unit per month for community associations, $1.25 per month for residential and student housing units, and $1.50 per month for commercial. It’s not free, but if it makes your life easier it could be well worth the cost.
We love real estate apps
As a technology startup, RealtyShares is bringing innovation to real estate in new ways, much like our fellow startups. I am particularly excited to see technology infused into the real estate management process. Where we can find new technology that benefits both RealtyShares project sponsors and investors in the multifamily space, it is even better.
If you are a property owner or manager, make sure to check out these apps to see how they might help your business. Who knows, you may just have a new, can’t-live-without tool for your business arsenal that will save you time and money.