Three Rental and Investment Property Predictions for 2017

RD House Property Management Team | RHAWA Vendor Member

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, it’s clear that technology will continue to have a major impact on the solutions available for property managers, and by extension — renters, vendors, and owners — which will improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and consistency of property management without raising overhead costs for the business or for owners significantly. Together, this presents huge ROI opportunities for property management.

Online Payment Adoption Among Tenants Will Continue to Grow

When was the last time you noticed someone in a grocery store writing a check? It doesn’t happen very often. According to national credit agencies, 94% of people use debit, credit, mobile, or related payment methods for everyday purchases. Here at RD House, 83% of our tenants in the past year regularly use online payment for rents, and we expect this to continue to follow general consumer payment trends.

Today’s renters are constantly connected to their digital devices, and are quickly dropping what’s becoming an antiquated medium to pay their rent. Electronic payments are not only easier and more convenient for renters, they are also far more convenient for property managers and owners from an administrative and transaction tracking perspective. And, the time saved from all that paper transaction handling cuts the turnaround time for vendor and owner funds disbursement.

New Renters Insurance Offerings Will Enable Property Managers to Drive More Consistent Insurance Requirements Within Leases and Rental Agreements

Some lease agreements advise (and in some cases, require) tenants to carry renters insurance to protect from loss or damage, but this hasn’t quite hit the tipping point of an industry standard. Even when part of a lease, tenants often fail to get coverage, or show proof of coverage at lease signing but don’t maintain the policy, and property managers haven’t had great tools to 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.

But over the past several years, carriers offering renters insurance have been working with rental software vendors to build more direct, competitively priced coverage made available through existing software platforms, which we expect will allow more property managers to offer tenants this standalone coverage as a direct add-on through tenant portals and ePay software.

Mobile and Related Technology Will Continue to Deliver New Solutions to Specific Areas of Leasing and Management for Rental Properties

From showings to inspections and move-ins, property managers use a hodgepodge of tools and processes to effectively manage these activities. Technology has enabled some improvements with these, but they haven’t matured as fully scalable solutions. In 2017 and beyond, expect to see technology continue to mature into more mainstream solutions in the following areas:

Keyless Entry — There are a few mobile apps on the market currently that let prospective renters more easily tour units without the property manager needing to be on-site. They have some obvious shortcomings, however, including that in-person showings are an integral part of the leasing process in which property managers are able to sell the best features of a unit and immediately answer questions from prospective tenants. This may, however, continue to grow as a tool for larger multiplex properties with centralized leasing offices.

Virtual Reality-Guided Tours — In-depth virtual reality tours will enable prospective renters to experience the property without having to step inside the building.

For markets with a high rate of non-local renters moving in, this technology will benefit managers in providing remote showings and marketing, streamlining the process for tenants needing to find a unit before relocating.

Remote Monitoring — The rapid advent of mobile-enabled cameras provide new opportunities for property managers to remotely monitor external areas of a property, pinpointing problems without depending on or waiting for a tenant to report them. Watch for technology in this space to coalesce into more robust and affordable solutions available to a broad segment of properties and managers over the next year or more.

RD House is a Seattle property management company that specializes in property management for residential homes and small apartment buildings in the Seattle metro area, with fees starting at 5%.

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