Smart home technology is a wise investment in multifamily but there are several elements to consider and deciding which one is best for your community will likely be based on your demographic.
By Linda Coburn
In 2022 “smart” is quickly becoming a prerequisite for long-term success and sustained competitive edge.
However, with more than 7.5 billion of the world’s population owning a smart phone, it’s surprising to realize the “smart” enhanced resident experience has only made its way to about 260 million homes. Smart home technology continues to drive the most discerning residents to multifamily communities offering the convenience and money-saving options at the touch of a button. Not only does a smart home technology package enhance the resident experience, it provides property managers and owners another layer of asset protection and operational excellence.
NexMetro Communities, a pioneer developer of single-family rental home neighborhoods, is focused on offering more viable technology options for our Avilla Homes residents nationwide. We’ve seen the demand and we are thrilled to further augment the smart tech elements that have long been standard in our homes.
Our process began by truly understanding the needs and wants of our residents. Tech is important, but we wanted to provide meaningful enhancements and not simply offer tech for tech’s sake. We conducted extensive research and sought out the best partners for the projects. That research included a comprehensive survey of our residents, dialing in what upgrades they were seeking and why those were important.
We have learned some fundamental aspects of these programs that speak to both the developer and the resident. While we are focused on these logistical and financial benefits, we want to provide the “wow factor” for our residents which is why we included smart switches which integrate with Alexa. A resident can log in to the app and see if they remembered to turn off their hot iron or other appliance. If they did forget, they can turn it off from their phone, creating peace of mind amidst a resident’s busy day.
The primary benefits for the residents include:
- Maximum Convenience
- Protection of Personal Belongings
- Energy Efficiency and Money Savings
The primary benefits to the developer include:
- Asset Preservation
- Operational Efficiency
- Vacancy Efficiency
There are several elements to consider with a smart home technology package and deciding which one is best for your community will likely be based on your demographic. We chose a package that includes a keyless front door lock and a smart home thermostat. The thermostat also senses humidity levels which helps us detect if there ever is a leak in the unit. This not only helps us protect our assets but also helps the residents know if something is wrong. The system will send an alert to the resident as well as the maintenance team. In addition, the system has leak sensors for the hot water heater and the air conditioner.
Upon moveout temperatures will automatically default, resulting in sizable energy savings. We can track year to year vacant electric costs and expect to see as much as 50% reduction in electric bills year over year.
We made the decision in the latter part of 2021 to roll out this enhanced smart home tech to all our communities nationwide. Since our existing residents didn’t sign on for this package initially, we are retrofitting each unit at no additional cost until it’s time for their renewal. We are on schedule to have our entire network of Avilla communities outfitted with upgraded smart home technology by the end of 2022.
My biggest piece of advice for any management team looking to switch to smart home technology is to find a partner that fits your needs and make sure that partner, as well as your own company, has a team dedicated to the process. You’ll be best served with a partner that has a strong support center, 24-hour call center, and actual boots on the ground in each market. We’ve been thrilled with the partner we chose, I-Apartments.
The appeal to NexMetro’s luxury leased living option is unmistakable and our residents tell us they love their Avilla home and the living experience it offers. In looking at our previous tech offerings and now layering in additional resident packages, we offer a next level of ease for those consumers who are on the go and want the convenience of controlling their home from anywhere in the world.
About the author
Linda Coburn is vice president of asset management for NexMetro Communities, a national developer of luxury leased home neighborhoods With more than 25 years of experience in the multifamily industry, she formerly led a diverse owned and operated $520 million portfolio for Mark-Taylor Residential; and held regional management positions with Equity Residential. Active in the multifamily industry, Linda has a long record of committee and industry service, notably as vice chairman of the Arizona Multifamily Association Executive Board and an NAA Delegate.
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