Technology has reshaped our lives in so many ways — instant transportation at the click of a button, instant grocery or food delivery and the ability to communicate via video with anyone in the world are just a few of the perks technology brings to the table every day. While the real estate industry has historically been slower to adopt technological innovations, technology now plays a major role across various aspects of the industry.
One area in which this is evident is the renter experience. Technology completely redefines what the renter experience looks like in 2020. Perhaps to get the best understanding of exactly how much it has changed, it is best to compare it with experiences from the past.
If we could take a pool of renters from 2010 and drop them directly into 2020, they would be very surprised to see how different (and easy) various aspects of renting can be, from the leasing cycle to the rent collections process.
2010 Versus 2020: Apartment Hunting
In 2010, when people came across a great apartment, they’d probably either call the property management company or landlord associated with the unit or building to learn more about it. They may have even been able to fill out an online form or send an email seeking more information. They might get someone to pick up the phone to respond to their query, or they might get an email back the same day they sent it. But none of that was guaranteed. Often, prospective renters would have to wait days to hear back from property management companies on their apartment queries, if they ever heard back at all. As the apartment hunt process can be stressful and time-sensitive, by the time prospects heard back on their queries, they may have been forced to start the leasing process with an alternative building to secure housing quickly. They might have even lost interest in the unit completely after not getting a timely response. The leasing process was frustrating.
Fast-forward to 2020, prospective renters today face a much more streamlined process when it comes to leasing. Like so many other modern perks from technology, initial stages of the leasing process can be instant for prospects. AI can play a huge role in alleviating some of the stress and frustration of the apartment hunt and can expedite parts of the process. When prospects today find a great apartment, they’ll get in contact with the company managing the unit or building. However, instead of waiting for a response, some might receive a text almost instantly from an AI-powered leasing assistant that can guide them through initial steps. Within the context of one text conversation, not only do prospects get their queries answered but their showings are also automatically scheduled and they get guidance on what to bring to the appointment as well as other information about the unit or building that might be helpful. In 30 minutes, they might even be on their way to the actual showing.
2010 Versus 2020: Maintenance
If there is an issue or something malfunctions in an apartment, many 2010 residents would need to phone maintenance. They might have to leave a voicemail or email and then head off to work hoping to get a response back, maybe needing to place another phone call or two for a response. Once getting a response that the request would be taken care of, they might be left in the dark about how and when that request would be handled. Having no visibility into how the work order is progressing, only to come home to find the issue might still have gone unresolved, would be most upsetting to renters.
In 2020, maintenance looks very different. Residents are able to submit maintenance requests with a click of the button on their phones or computers to automatically start a work order. They can receive real-time updates about the status of the work order, giving them more peace of mind throughout the process and requiring less follow-up on their part with the property management team to see where things stand.
2010 Versus 2020: Rent Collection
The 2010 renter might be fussing around their apartment the morning rent is due looking for postage stamps or an envelope to put their rent check in before heading off to the mailbox or the property management office to hand in their rent. It was a very manual process, and sending rent through the mail might even delay it getting accounted for on time.
In 2020, everything has gone mobile, and many renters pay their rent quickly and on time through property management payment portals. Many people today don’t even have checkbooks, opting instead for mobile banking. Given that, the ease of simply paying rent through the mobile phone is paramount to a good renter experience, and it’s increasingly an option for renters today.
2010 Versus 2020: Amenities
In 2010, in non-luxury apartment buildings, perhaps the most a renter could hope for in terms of amenities was a small gym and an entertainment room with a television and sofa. There wasn’t much about the renter experience that was tailored to the resident, necessarily.
In 2020, amenities are everything. From high-tech appliances that help save energy to keyless entry options into apartment units for renters, there is an endless number of ways in which technology as an amenity makes the renter experience more enjoyable. It’s also not only technology that transforms amenities. Many buildings are beginning to tailor spaces for their residents. Outdoor grills, health and wellness rooms and bike maintenance stations are just a few examples of amenities growing in popularity in 2020.
Ultimately, as tech reshapes the rest of the world, the renter experience follows suit. It’s hard to predict what the experience of 2030 might look like, but as tech continues to evolve, it’s a sure bet it will be unlike the experience of today.