How AI Fits Into Property Management’s Future
Implementing AI can help managers streamline operations and reclaim time to engage with residents.
Advancements in artificial intelligence promise to bring efficiencies to every property management task, from screening and operations to security and communications. But the technology’s greatest benefit is its ability to wrest control of repetitive tasks, freeing managers to focus greater attention on building a sense of community among residents.
Asserting “the use of AI is growing across all facets of property management,” Joya Pavesi, executive vice president of marketing and strategy with Charlotte, N.C.-based RKW Residential, said AI is being used to enhance lead nurturing, prospect management activities, website assistance, brand copywriting and–through predictive analytics–improve performance. AI-driven innovations are being used by property managers in revenue management, connected smart home technology and centralization efforts via such technologies as Funnel CRM, she added.
Property managers can also use AI to drive predictive maintenance. Some software programs contain an algorithm that analyzes past maintenance issues and offers predictive solutions. There may be, for instance, a reminder given to residents to clean air conditioner filters, helping avert or delay the need for future repair or replacement, noted Alexis Krisay, co-founder of Serendipit Consulting in Phoenix. “This saves the property maintenance team time and cost because you’re heading off future problems,” she added. “Renewal rates are growing at the properties using this type of technology.”
At Fogelman Properties in Memphis, Tenn., AI is being used to monitor leasing agent call performance and provide feedback and statistics, said Kim Young, company vice president of shared services. Generative AI bots can process payments and answer inquiries rapidly and accurately, keeping hold times minimal and reducing friction between residents and the property management team, said Ashu Dubey, founder & CEO of Gleen AI in Pleasanton, Calif. And AI-powered revenue management and a due diligence platform can support unit inspections and audits, according to Pavesi.
Speaking of friction reduction, AI can relieve property management staff members from one of their most unpleasant tasks. “Back in the old days, our management team would have one or two people dedicated to calling residents who didn’t pay their rent,” recalled Krisay, who started her career in property management. “With AI, there are bots to remind residents in a friendly manner to pay their rents. This frees up management to have positive conversations. The rent conversation is left to the AI software.”
AI also offers substantial advantages to residents. “If we can free up management to do some of the high-touch tasks, like interacting personally with residents or managing community-oriented events, the manager can be out and about on-site,” said Tess Gruenstein, senior vice president of acquisitions and portfolio management with wealth management firm Bailard.
“Managers can be out noticing if the trash is not being picked up quickly enough or that certain areas are needing maintenance, rather than sitting behind a desk. That can result in powerful benefits for residents, making them feel they live in a community that’s well maintained, with a management team that cares about them and their families.”
Pavesi believes greater convenience for apartment seekers is a key benefit of AI utilization. When renters search for a residence, AI is able to respond to their questions in real time and on their preferred schedules, she said.
AI-powered work management processes and smart home technology offer additional resident benefits, noted Lucas Haldeman, CEO of SmartRent. Being able to power all aspects of their in-home environments, from heating and cooling to lighting and entertainment, provides residents greater satisfaction and gives them a feeling of a deeper connection to the communities where they live.
Property managers should consider a number of factors when sizing up AI’s costs. One is that single-point solutions can deliver value while maintaining lower costs, Pavesi said.
But in choosing them, managers may be sacrificing best-in-class performance offered by other vendors. “It is imperative to test and measure,” she noted. “In the long run, there may be substantial efficiencies and cost savings derived from selecting a solution that has a slightly higher rate card.”
When apprising the substantial cost of integrating AI or purchasing software with AI already integrated, consider the expense of human resources that might not be needed with efficient use of AI, Gruenstein suggested. The difficulty in recruiting and the cost of hiring property management talent have soared in the past three years, she said. “The technology allows you to maintain the staff you have, without having to increase the size of your on-site management team. “Salaries have grown so much, and it’s difficult to find the property management talent even at the higher salary levels.”
Offsetting AI’s many benefits is the risk that if administered incorrectly, the technology might depersonalize the sales process or manager-resident relationships, Gruenstein advised.
Recalling her own days in leasing, Krisay noted losing the personal relationship forged when a team member takes prospects through a tour could be a downside, but argued it is likely offset by greater relationship-building opportunities after leases are signed.
“The biggest drawback but also the greatest opportunity is in the unknown,” Young concluded. “We don’t yet know everything that AI can do to make our lives easier. As long as it is integrated responsibly with adequate human touch points, the impact can only be positive.”