I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the multi-housing industry for nearly three decades. During this time, I’ve witnessed many ups, downs, twists and turns in the business. However, I can honestly say the industry’s most dramatic changes have come about in the last five years alone.
One of the major modifications that has sprouted up over the last five years is the shift to micro units and highly amenitized luxury communities. Gone are the days of simple, isolated apartments providing standard one or two-bedroom living spaces and nothing else. Nowadays, the name of the game is premium community living. Multi-housing now touts everything from on-site fitness centers to dog parks and car services to hip rooftop restaurants and bars. Even the micro units are full of amenities including food service with morning breakfast and evening cocktails to common workspace similar to shared office environments.
Five years ago, the so-called community spaces at apartments were pretty empty throughout the day and the weekend. Today, community common area spaces are truly activated and used by the residents. Pools are becoming weekend pool parties, lounge spaces are being utilized consistently for people to work, gather and socialize.
Another key change that has impacted the overall industry over the last five years is technology. From smart apartments to smartphones, the industry is tapping technology to improve the resident experience and boost staff efficiencies. One example of this is the use of electronic lockers for resident packages. With the boom in online shopping, the multi-housing industry has had to dramatically adjust the way it handles resident packages and deliveries. I honestly don’t think anyone was prepared to deal with the tsunami of resident packages that is now an everyday occurrence.
Looking ahead, I expect to see technology continue to play a major role in the industry. What new tech trends exactly? I think we can anticipate more self-service leasing tours, leasing transactions via mobile devices and the continuation of highly amenitized apartment communities that aim to create a sense of community for residents.
I also think the future will bring about changes in new tenant legislation. We’ll see folks in the industry more intimately involved with local, state and national apartment associations to help ensure the laws are fair and reasonable for all.
Over the next five years, I also think we’ll see a move back to the basics when it comes to training onsite staff. About 10 years ago, the industry started centralizing many job functions. Once this occurred, the onsite team was turned into a customer service team. As a result, many of today’s staff lack a solid understanding of budgeting and financial matters. To address this issue, I think we’ll go back to providing basic business acumen and financial skills to our staff. There are so many talented people in this industry and we often times pigeon hole them in their roles. We need to work to develop our people to think bigger and contribute more. They can do this. They simply need leadership to push, challenge and show them the way.
Overall, it has been exciting to observe all the new developments and creative amenities sprouting up at different properties. Across the board, the multi-housing industry remains focused on enhancing the resident experience, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings as this business continues to transform.
Lori A. Torres is the founder and CEO of Parcel Pending, the nation’s leading provider of innovative package management solutions.