Apartment living changed during the pandemic. Just like with office buildings and hotels, apartment amenities changed and property managers had to shift their thinking. Residents became isolated and common areas became ghost towns for a very long time.
But the changes weren’t all negative. As we approach the end of the pandemic, we can see some of the positive ramifications of adjustments made during the pandemic. How can property managers maintain a positive atmosphere as amenities open up again and people begin to socialize? What changes will persevere in multifamily units in the future? And how can the right PropTech software create a smooth transition to apartment communities of the future?
Business couldn’t just stop during the pandemic in many industries, including residential real estate. People still sold homes and rented apartments, although not as frequently. Virtual apartment tours became a key to reducing vacancies and renting apartments quickly with minimal human contact.
3D tours bring apartments to life for prospective residents. Property managers have a choice of connecting in person or via Facetime or other video conferencing apps. Virtual tours were beginning to take off for apartment hunters seeking to relocate or those looking for faster, more convenient tours even prior to the pandemic. Now, they have become a new normal and convenient alternative for realtors, property managers and apartment hunters looking to save time during their search.
Keyless entry, especially via a smartphone app, provides a safe and sanitary way to allow entry into apartment units or to community amenities such as fitness centers and pools. If residents can enter their own living space or a community area through an app on their phone, it minimizes hands-on a keypad and reduces the spread of germs. What’s more, it increases the convenience.
Keyless entry also makes it possible for property managers to provide a one-time code to realtors or prospective residents who wish to tour an apartment. Sugar offers the ability to unlock doors within the app or share digital keys with prospective tenants and Realtors. Those digital codes no longer work once the tour is over.
Once a new resident signs the lease, they will gain access to keyless entry through the app, as well. They can also onboard via the app to learn more about specific amenities and important community information. Most importantly, they will begin to build a sense of connection with their neighbors through the app.
Even as we became more reliant on delivery for everything from food to necessities during the pandemic, people tried to minimize trips to the post office to mail checks. As far back as 2017, millennials paid 61% of their bills online.
Using an app for rent payments benefits residents and property managers alike. When provided with a variety of convenient options to pay through an app, residents are less likely to miss a payment or pay their rent late. They can even have rent deducted from their bank account or paid via credit card automatically at the beginning of each month.
Online rent payments are also more secure, as payments can’t be lost in the mail. Residents can choose from credit or debit card, ACH payments, or even digital wallets like Google Pay or payment platforms like Paypal or Venmo to pay their rent.
Property managers, in turn, have an automatic, digital record of payments, which makes accounting easy.
But the right property tech app does more than just make it easy for tenants to pay rent. When tenants can submit maintenance requests or make suggestions for improvements easily online through an app, they are more likely to be satisfied with their apartment living experience. And happy tenants stay longer, helping property managers improve profitability and increase the property’s cap rate.
If tenants are already paying rent and submitting maintenance requests online, it’s a short step to letting them communicate with each other via an app. Let tenants know about special events, track trash collection schedules, or share community news via an app and you can bring your community closer together.
The pandemic taught us all the incredible benefits and convenience of staying in touch online via videoconferencing or messenger apps. You can keep your community connected so they will feel more in touch with their neighbors and more engaged with apartment living.
Sugar helps forge a sense of community by allowing residents to send direct messages to each other. Whether a resident needs someone to feed their cat or collect their mail for a day, or just wants to see if a neighbor is available for coffee that afternoon, Sugar makes it easy and convenient.
Residents can also create and post their own events within the app, so they can get together without relying on property managers to organize community events. Residents don’t have to worry about trying to share invitations through word-of-mouth, or discovering a neighbor had their feelings hurt because they were inadvertently excluded from festivities.
Many apartment mailrooms were overwhelmed during the pandemic, when online spending rose 44%, accounting for 21.3% of retail sales in 2020. Building owners who incorporated contactless delivery, granting tenants access via an app, as well as refrigerated package storage for grocery delivery, made tenants happy with these added conveniences.
Just as contactless food delivery, online shopping, and grocery delivery services won’t be going away any time soon, providing residents with an easy way to access their packages while minimizing human contact remains a desirable amenity in apartment living.
Apartment living in the future may see a shift in not just amenities, but in how the apartments are designed. More spacious common areas will allow for social distancing and reduce the spread of germs. Individual units will focus more on living inside the apartment rather than utilizing amenities across the building. That could mean extra space for a home office or workout room. Likewise, apartments may embrace private or public outdoor spaces, such as patios and rooftops, to entertain neighbors, friends and family.
However, these changes pose a new challenge for property managers seeking to create a sense of community that is one of the unique benefits of apartment living. An app-based community portal like Sugar can help neighbors get to know each other while allowing property managers to collect important metrics to increase resident satisfaction and improve retention rates. Your residents who download and use Sugar will find it to be a crucial aspect of their apartment life, not just helping them manage aspects of apartment living, but keeping them connected to their community.
Although the pandemic represented one of the most trying times in recent history, advances in technology and new social norms have created a new way of life that is not all bad. Residents can look forward to a brighter, more connected future in today’s apartments.
BDCNetwork.com - A post-pandemic ‘new normal’ for apartment buildings