Faced with labor shortages, increasing demands from renters and owners for digital services, and low interest rates, property managers have more reason than ever to embrace new technologies. Here are five that are currently trending in the sector.
Property Management, like most industries, is embracing new technologies to stay relevant in a world where consumers, employees and clients expect the convenience of digital services.
Further, an unprecedented labor shortage is driving up wages and making key positions difficult to fill. There have been waves of vacancies and falling rents in urban areas, as the hybrid at-home/in-office workplace evolves, and people move to the suburbs for more space.
In order to combat these roadblocks, and provide convenience to their consumers, employees and clients, property managers are turning to the following technologies to cut costs and to compensate for low interest income in the current rate environment.
1. Automating Accounts Payable
Automating accounts payable is one of the most effective ways to improve operations and free up staff to focus on tenant relations and other roles that add value. After factoring for labor, manual account payables processes can cost up to 2.5 times more per transaction than with automated systems.
By implementing such services as Expert AP, property managers can reduce manual processes by more than half – while also helping minimize the risk of fraud, delivering payments more efficiently, and gaining better visibility into overall operations. What’s more, property managers can direct their staff away from low-value tasks to more strategic activities that can pave the way for additional cost savings, enhanced employee satisfaction and retention, as well as better-run buildings and communities.
2. Expanding Online Payment Options
Potential tenants and clients are experiencing the speed and ease of digital payments in other parts of the economy and expect similar service from property managers.
The benefits of expanding online payment options are twofold: With fewer paper checks to process, property managers can improve cash flow management and reduce the time spent on manual tasks – freeing up existing staff to focus on higher-value-added projects a property manager may be struggling to find new hires to do. Moreover, there is a strong correlation between increasing online payment options and receiving rent on time, according to the Rentec Direct Rental Trends Report.
Online options also allow for additional engagement with the ability to deliver messages to tenants through the online tool, deliver payment reminders, accept fees for other receivables and provide self service recurring payment capability.
3. Embedded Payments
Embedded payments are gaining traction in many industries, and property management is no exception. The same technology that links fintech apps to bank accounts, or embeds payment plans into e-commerce checkouts is also creating a more seamless experience for tenants, owners, and property managers. “Property managers can now control the payment process under one digital roof and with one financial institution,” says Ross Weigand, Head of Property Management Banking at Fifth Third Bank.
He gives the example of one property management client who manages multi-family housing. “Typically, each property they manage will have its own bank account and it is not uncommon for those accounts to be at different banks. This creates challenges managing the different cash flows from these accounts. We can provide the property manager with a bank agnostic tool that directs these funds to us for further credit to their other bank accounts. As such, we efficiently handle their receivables. Think of this as a one-stop shop for banking.”
“Another benefit to embedded financial platforms is that they can provide tools that give tenants and owners a single point of contact for managing additional payments and services, such as renter's insurance or escrow accounts for deposits.” In doing so, property managers can potentially reduce costs associated with payment processing and gain greater insight into owner and tenant payment preferences.
4. Centralized Online Tenant Portals
Tenant portals provide a digital communication hub for property managers and tenants. These platforms not only pave the way for more back-office automation, but also improve tenant satisfaction. They provide such services as automatic rent collection, online ticket support for maintenance, vacancy management, maintenance cycles and accounting. There are different offerings catering to the specific needs of each key segment, including single-family home rentals, commercial real estate and multi-family housing.
5. Artificial Intelligence
Tech-savvy property management companies are now augmenting existing automated systems with AI-powered tools and using new innovations to pull ahead of the competition. AI is especially useful for promoting properties and securing prospects for rentals.
There are now AI chatbots property managers can use straight out of the box, which can be plugged into Multiple Listing Sites’ (MLS) data. Property managers are always looking for as many leads as possible, and answering questions instantly with a chatbot can substantially improve conversion rates. The bots can automatically respond to renter inquiries, and other software can be added to pre-screen those inquiries before automatically sending emails to the selected higher quality prospects. There are many bots on the market that property managers can use for a variety of purposes. MobileMonkey, for instance, is a chatbot platform that supports web chat, live chat, SMS and Facebook Messenger bots, as well as omnichannel marketing. Although chatbot technology does come with its own set of challenges, one study reports that several different industries, including real estate, are profiting greatly from their integration.
Today’s property management technology is designed to give adopters a competitive edge by providing better tenant experiences, faster service for clients and cost-savings as more streamlined, automated operations free up existing staff from manual tasks. The overwhelming number of technology choices makes it necessary for property managers to develop a comprehensive plan to help ensure the savings will offset the cost of integration. This is why it’s important to partner with a financial institution that can help tailor a plan to suit your business needs. For additional information, contact your Relationship Manager or find a banker to learn more.