Why we’re investing in smart technologies for our assets

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Residents at Regatta Sloan's Lake are able to use Fluid Market's Fluid app, a community-sharing application that allows neighbors to rent valuable, but little-used, items to each other. Courtesy Castle Lanterra Properties

Elie Rieder
Founder and CEO, Castle Lanterra Properties, Suffern, New York

The use of smart technology is no longer confined to homeowners looking to control temperature or lighting via their smartphones. It has become an essential tool for multifamily property managers and owners who want to offer amenities that appeal to a new generation of tenants while improving security and boosting operational efficiency.

As a multifamily owner and operator, we embraced smart technology as integral to our investment strategy. In growth markets like Denver and Austin, Texas, with a sizeable younger demographic, we increasingly are focused on tech tools that meet tenant demand for cutting-edge controls and environmentally friendly climate systems. From a property management and operations perspective, the wealth of “smart” benefits extend well beyond giving residents the ability to control their living spaces remotely.

Improved security through access control. Regatta Sloan’s Lake, a 369-unit luxury apartment community in the West Colfax district of Denver, is a perfect case in point. In 2016, our firm acquired the newly built Class A property, part of the 19-acre Sloans mixed-use community designed to provide a live-work-play environment for residents ranging from millennials to empty nesters.

Residential communities with commercial tenants such as Regatta Sloan’s Lake pose a specific challenge when it comes to tenant security. The community has more than 8,800 square feet of ground-floor retail space, and popular tenants such as Sloan’s Tap & Burger, Cultura Fusion and the Alamo Drafthouse Cineplex draw locals and visitors to the area. In addition, facilities like the community’s co-working space, fitness center and parking garage are accessible to the public. To address this security issue, we invested in the System Galaxy electronic security program. System Galaxy employs a keyless “smart lock” fob system that allows the property manager to remotely limit access to the community’s buildings and amenities 24/7. Residents must use personal programmable key fobs to enter their buildings and apartments, as well as common areas and resident-only floors in the garage. Property management has the ability to replace lost fobs quickly and easily, eliminating the time and cost involved in changing locks and creating new keys.

The system has enabled us to further increase security at the property by utilizing “call boxes” at all main entrances. Guests type in a code, the call box automatically dials the resident they are visiting and the resident provides access remotely.

Enhanced property management systems. Smart technology has quickly revolutionized property management, with customizable integrated software platforms developed specifically for the multifamily industry. These sophisticated systems capture and analyze data that provides valuable insight into property and portfolio performance. They also are designed to provide residents with a superior user experience at every touch point within the property.

We recently expanded our use of Entrata Core’s property management software at Regatta Sloan’s Lake to improve efficiency for our staff and enhance the experience for current and prospective tenants. The platform’s resident portal, which is used for paying rent and filing work orders, now serves as a package delivery system. Residents receive notification of a package’s arrival the moment it is scanned in, and the system keeps a list of packages in the mail area by unit number.

In addition, the leasing office is using Entrata’s SiteTablet to help provide a seamless touring/leasing process for prospective residents. When touring prospects, leasing agents have mobile access via SiteTablet iPads to real-time pricing, availability and community information. They also can log notes and have prospects apply on the spot.

Smart resident amenities. Smart tech amenities save energy and money, and they offer property owners a growing array of options for adding convenience and differentiating their communities in the marketplace. For example, residents at Regatta Sloan’s Lake are taking advantage of Fluid Market’s Fluid app, a community-sharing application that allows neighbors to rent valuable, but little-used, items to each other. Recreational gear like paddleboards, volleyball nets, bikes, camping equipment and snowboards can be rented to an online community through the app. To support this amenity, we designated storage space for residents to populate with items that others may want to borrow.

Advances in smart technologies continue at a rapid pace, offering multifamily property owners and managers countless opportunities to upgrade and streamline day-to-day operations. Installing and maximizing systems that can help cut costs, improve efficiency and enhance the lives of residents is an investment that will pay off now and for years to come.

 

Featured in the February 2018 issue of Multifamily Properties Quarterly.

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