In their 2020 Global Real Estate Transparency Index, JLL and LaSalle found that adoption of property technology (Proptech) has risen over the past year, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, there are a number of operational buckets that can be optimized by leveraging new technologies that real estate investors may not have heard of yet.
Indeed, Matthew McAuley, director of global research at JLL noted in the report that "While real estate has been slower to embrace new technologies than other industries, this is changing -- in the two years since the last Transparency Index, nearly 1,400 private tech start-ups focused on real estate have been founded and US$16.9 billion in funding raised."
Investors are primed now more than ever to double down on digitizing their businesses, and these are the categories of tools that could help you do it more easily and efficiently.
Are you still taking cash or physical checks as rental payment? There are a myriad of tools out there that can automate the rent-payment process so you don’t have to chase down tenants, send reminders, or process funds.
Many of these tools include automated reminders and allow for credit card payment, which many tenants appreciate. Here are a few rent-payment providers to consider:
Many of these tools have built-in features, such as tracking utility payments, email and SMS reminders, automatic debits, credit score checks, mobile apps, check scanning, and a lot more.
If you still have that giant filing cabinet, now's the time to start thinking about digitizing your documents. Using tools like Google Drive or Stessa, you can scan, store, track, share, and cloud backup all your important real estate documents. Outside of title, deed, and tax documents, and other critical legal forms, there is no reason to keep physical documents that take up all your space.
Using one of the above tools, you can create your own digital filing cabinet that's easily backed up, searchable, and shareable with other members of your real estate team.
DocuSign and HelloSign are two of many e-signature tools landlords can start using for their real estate transactions and leasing (depending on the legal requirement in your state). First, please consult with your real estate lawyer.
Signing a new lease? Get tenants to e-sign to save yourself the drive and in-person meeting. Doing an annual inspection? You can ask tenants to e-sign the document that acknowledges your inspection.
As real estate investors, we are also data junkies. We need as much information as we can related to our portfolios to make informed business decisions. There are a number of real estate investment dashboard software options that can give us a snapshot of how our portfolios are doing.
Whether looking for yourself or showing investors or team members, having a digital centralized dashboard pulling information from a number of different inputs will save you a significant amount of time.
Here's a list of property management and financial management tools that investors could leverage to act as their central investment dashboard.
There are dozens of smart home devices that landlords can leverage to make their buildings more cost-efficient and to better streamline operations. Here are a few, and how they help landlords save time:
- Smart locks: New key codes can be created securely online for new tenants, contractors, and guests.
- Smart thermostat: This can dramatically increase the energy efficiency of your rental property and give you real-time data on energy usage via mobile apps.
- Home safety: Sensors for fire and flood are becoming more popular as landlords seek to reduce risk.
Virtual tours spiked in popularity over the course of the pandemic and will likely maintain their momentum moving forward. There's a simple reason for this: efficiency. 3D and 360-degree tours, photos, and videos reduce the need for inefficient in-person meetings, weed out tire kickers, and optimize the marketing experience beyond simple static photos.
Going virtual with your marketing will allow you stand out from the crowd as you try to lease up vacant units. Here are some tools to help with 3D tours and visuals:
Staying on top of all the new tools out there can be challenging. With so many startups and so many options, how do we know where to even begin looking? There are several discoverability tactics that will help you as a landlord stay fresh when it comes to new technology opportunities. These are the two biggest discoverability platforms:
- Unissu: A platform developed by proptech experts, Unissu is a content platform that helps real estate professionals understand, identify, and select the best tools for their businesses. Whether you own a few or a hundred units, Unissu has a number of features to help you stay on top of technology trends in the real estate space.
- CRETECH: Similar to Unissu, CRETECH is a property technology content platform that provides insights, directories, and events for anyone operating in the real estate space.
The bottom line
By exploring the various technology platforms that can help automate and streamline your business, you're improving your bottom line and freeing up your time. Above is simply a primer to the world of possibilities that technology has afforded real estate investors.
Your homework is to pick a few of these categories that you feel will best optimize your business operations, and explore the different solutions available to you. Good luck!