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3 Property Management Predictions for 2017

Oct 25 2016

Each year around this time, the industry tries to gauge where we are headed in the next year. Will this be a groundbreaking year in property management, or business as usual? While it’s hard to make concrete predictions, one thing is certain: Technology will have a major impact on the way property managers do their job and engage with renters, real estate agents and maintenance teams — more than ever before.

Here are three predictions about how technology will change your job in 2017.

1. Property management companies will finally take the paperless-payments plunge
When was the last time you wrote a check? Think hard. It probably doesn’t happen very often. Today’s renters are constantly connected to their digital devices, so why make them use what’s quickly becoming an antiquated medium to pay their rent?

With the rise of mobile payments in other areas such as retail, many consumers now expect to be able to pay their rent on the go. Electronic payments are not only easier and more convenient for renters, they are also far more convenient for property managers from an administrative and tracking perspective. In general, the more you can get away from paper and start tracking transactions online in an automated fashion, the less time you’ll spend on administrative tasks like rent collection.

If you’re worried about convenience fees dipping into your profit margin, remember that credit cards aren’t the only way to go paperless. Property management platforms allow renters to pay rent via electronic transfer (the same way people pay utilities bills today) using a routing number to deduct payment directly from a savings or checking account. Or, if you do choose to accept credit card payments, many property managers have tenants pay for the associated convenience fees.

2. Renters insurance will be required, necessitating better technology-enabled enforcement
Many lease agreements advise (and in some cases, require) tenants to carry renters insurance to protect from loss or damage. But, tenants often fail to get coverage and property managers never follow up, leaving both the tenant and property unprotected. To compound the issue further, renters insurance has historically had a high barrier to entry, especially in locations where many city dwellers don’t own cars and cannot simply add coverage to existing policies.

Over the next year, we’ll see property managers begin to offer tenants coverage as an add-on to the total rent cost through their property management software. Tenants can sign up electronically during the lease process, saving time and reducing time-to-lease. By offering this coverage as part of your property management package, you can protect yourself — and your renters — from any unforeseen accidents or damage.

One of the risks to owners and property managers is that at the point of lease, a renter could show proof of coverage, and then cancel the policy. This creates a false sense of security. By offering a competitive product that renters can sign up for at lease signing, property managers can ensure the policy is maintained.

3. Property managers will spend more time in the office
From showings to inspections and move-ins, property managers are constantly being pulled out of the office to manage different aspects of their business. Technology will finally start to take over some of these out-of-office tasks in the year ahead. Expect to see technology adoption in the following areas:

Keyless entry: This feature lets prospective renters more easily tour the units with real estate agents without the property manager needing to be on-site.
Virtual reality-guided tours: An upgrade to the panoramic 3-D room tours that we’ve grown accustomed to, in-depth virtual reality tours will enable prospective renters to experience the apartment, common areas and more without having to step inside the building — and free up your time as a property manager.

Remote inspections: With the help of robotics and remote video cameras, property managers can remotely conduct unit inspections, pinpointing problems without having to step foot outside of the office.
From how you market properties to how you manage them, technology has already had an impact on the property management market. But the adoption of new technologies in 2017 may represent another huge leap into the future for this market.

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