The global real estate values, commercial and residential property, stood at $228 trillion in 2017 — surpassing the value of all stocks and shares combined. Property is the most valuable asset class in existence, and always has been. Understandably, whether you own offices in downtown Manhattan or cottages in the English Cotswolds, you need to maintain a healthy return on your investment.
It is the role of property managers to look after these assets. Their job is to keep tenants happy while managing buildings security and maintenance issues, and of course, advertising for new tenants if there is a vacancy. In the competitive world of commercial real estate, property managers and agents acting on the owners’ behalf will use every advantage to encourage new tenants to sign leases.
Technology is playing an increasingly important role in real estate management. As a sector, it has been slow to embrace technology. But now, asset owners and property managers are turning to new tech solutions to solve old problems.
Improving the tenant experience
One of the world’s largest property management companies, Cushman & Wakefield, embraced the use of a technology platform to help companies manage internal processes and the tenant experience.
Eddy Wagoner, global CIO of corporate solutions at JLL, another large multi-national property firm said “I think there’s a coming seismic shift in the way that we use data and technology inside real estate,” in a National Real Estate Investor interview.
Some systems are straightforward. Replacing paper forms and streaming how tenants are managed. Whereas others integrate service offerings and provide new revenue streams for property owners. Here are a few ways technology is transforming the tenant experience.
1. Improved efficiencies
Anything that makes the work of a property manager easier represents an upside. Saving time in one area, such as automated repair management, saves time and money. Colliers International — a real estate company with 500 offices in 69 countries — is so committed to improving efficiencies that it has launched a startup incubator in the property technology space.
Like other management firms, Colliers is committed to working with third-party vendors that present solutions for challenges they and tenants are experiencing. Improving efficiencies and generating cost savings is high on that list of priorities. Creating new revenue streams is another way to improve efficiencies. One way property owners can do that is to partner with Dark Store, which creates one-hour fulfillment centers in cities out of unused space within properties.
2. Understanding the tenant experience
Technology makes it possible for managers to understand how tenants use and move around buildings. When do they prefer to have the heating on? Where are the areas with the highest foot traffic at different times of the day? Which spaces are used the most?
These and numerous other questions can be answered using sensors. In multi-tenancy buildings, this information can also be used to make elevators and lobbies more secure. For example, security systems can store CCTV footage in the cloud, and provide solutions to prevent unexpected visitors from accessing floors they shouldn’t. Property managers can keep a closer eye on risk management keeping, tenants safer and improve the end-user experience.
3. Comprehending data
Properties are massive data generators. Once you have systems and sensors in place, every action is a data point. Even before the arrival of “big data,” everything from maintenance requests to asking tenants for insurance documents generated a lot of extra paperwork. Nowadays, this is being done electronically, property managers can gain valuable insight into how to improve the management of a building.
One of the main challenges, with all of this data flowing through the system, is generating meaning and insight from the information. Global real estate firm, Savills Studley, uses a platform known as Knowledge^3 to make sense of data property systems generate, even utilizing artificial intelligence to unlock insights and new value.
4. Digital documents
Are you still using paper forms and processes?
Property managers who are still using paper forms and asking tenants to sign paper leases are wasting a massing opportunity to make the whole tenant management process more efficient. Leases can be signed and reviewed electronically. Repair requests can be managed through online and mobile platforms. Your clients and tenants expect a modern efficient process. Over time, it will save you a small fortune, and a few trees.
5. Quicker sales process
Prospective tenants want to take a look around online, before booking a viewing. Pictures, no matter how beautifully shot, are no longer enough. With the right technology in place, you can give potential tenants a 3D interactive walk through the interior and exterior.
Alongside an interactive online experience, tenants want more information. One way to provide questions to answers 24/7 is with AI-powered chatbots. Instead of them waiting for your office to open, you can program a chatbot on your website or social media pages to answer the most commonly asked questions. Blogs and FAQs are equally useful as part of the online sales experience. Give potential tenants as much information as possible to move a sale forward.
With the right systems in place, you can manage your assets more efficiently, improve the tenant experience, make sense of all of the data your properties generate and speed up the process of filling empty spaces. Property yields, when these sort of improvements are implemented, always increase.
(Featured image by MyCreative via Shutterstock)
DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation for writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.
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