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5 Tech Developments Delivering Big Business Benefits for Real Estate Companies

May 7, 2019
man wearing VR headset

Property management firms have been handed a golden opportunity: the demand for rental property is on the rise and it isn’t expected to slow. According to a report from Harvard University, 60 percent of residents in major U.S. cities now rent their homes. Investors are responding by turning real estate investments into rental properties, leading to an increased need for property management services.

Property management firms are ready to seize the opportunities the rental market offers, yet many question how to grow their portfolios without affecting their profitability.

Here are five innovative technologies that could give property management firms the edge they need to succeed by being more effective and efficient in today’s ultra-competitive market.

1. Maintenance management software

Paper-based filing systems for organizing maintenance operations and human resource functions have been replaced with modern computerized maintenance management software (CMMS). CMMS provides a database of valuable information and transforms the routine tasks of maintaining a property portfolio, such as processing work orders, recording safety permits, documenting safety requirements, and managing inventory and assets. It can also predict and schedule maintenance when it’s needed, allowing property managers to act strategically, rather than reactively. The automation frees skilled technicians for higher-level work and enables firms to better plan workloads and manage expense.

Next generation CMMS, such as Common Areas, is cloud-based, allowing staff, including maintenance teams, to manage upkeep in real-time, in-office or on-site using a mobile device.

2. Virtual reality

Real estate applications leveraging virtual reality (VR) are projected to be worth $2.6 billion by 2025, according to Goldman Sachs, evidence that the technology can have significant business benefits for property managers.
Initially targeted at luxury properties, virtual tours are now more affordable, boosting the impact of property marketing campaigns and helping establish closer connections by immersing prospective clients in the features of a property in a way photos cannot. Management companies with multiple properties can expose prospects to their full portfolio from a single location, allowing them to explore units, view amenities and even take measurements within a virtual environment that eliminates the scheduling hassles and travel typically required of the real estate search.

No wonder CBRE, the world’s largest commercial real estate firm, recently acquired New York City-based Floored to leverage its 3-D imaging software that combines with virtual reality to allow developers to create accurate and detailed floor plans and then take prospective commercial tenants through immersive tours.

3. Mobile leasing tools

Mobile leasing applications provide leasing managers data they need to interact with prospective tenants and residents using tablets or smartphones. The tools enable more effective problem-solving, better customer service and facilitate a multitude of tasks with increased efficiency. For instance, staff can match available rental units to prospective tenants’ preferences, secure a signed a lease (using an electronic signature to complete the process) and help tenants with moving-related paperwork, remotely, saving them time and money.

Property management software provider Appfolio offers a helpful app that gives users quick and easy mobile access to their property database, enabling them to inspect properties; create, edit, and view work orders from the field; upload photos; and more. The tool optimizes their business potential and their efficiency, promising to boost profitability.

4. Tenant screening searches

Screening prospective tenants by reviewing their credit and criminal record history to determine financial or safety risk is a critical yet often time-consuming business practice. Several new screening applications offer property managers significant time savings and convenience by providing easy and secure online searches. Tenants also appreciate the online searches because they are quick, confidential, and impartial; they don’t rely on subjective judgments from landlords.

Screening applications include Tazworks, used as a background screening service for tenants, as well as firm employees; and Rentscreener, tech specifically designed for the property management sector.

5. Accounts payable and payments automation

Growing a portfolio inevitably means more invoices to process and bills to pay. Fortunately, the time and expense of traditional, paper-based accounts payable and bill pay processes have been replaced with automated processes that can eliminate the time-intensive manual labor and hard costs bludgeoning many accounting teams.

Automated AP and payment processes reduce staffing needs and provide firms real-time visibility into their financial performance and cash flow, increase reporting accuracy and improve compliance with tax laws and FASB regulations.

AvidXchange’s cloud-based accounts payable automation solution integrates with existing accounting and property management software including MRI, Rent Manager and Yardi, providing an easier, faster and more secure way for firms to process invoices and make electronic payments.

Disruptive technologies enable firms to remain profitable and efficient

These powerful technologies empower property management firms to grow their portfolios to meet the needs of today’s booming rental market. By embracing these new tools, they can get more done in less time, while also improving customer experience and creating stronger business relationships.

Automating the accounts payable and payment processes is one of the most impactful moves property managers can make, ridding their teams of trivial processes that take up a lot of time and allowing them to focus on more important strategic initiatives.

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