As a growing number of Millennials embark on the post-college apartment hunt, their expectations for convenience and easy accessibility are high. High-tech innovations in university housing set the bar high, such as electronic access-control systems that allow access to dorm rooms with nothing more than a cell phone or smart card. As these college graduates enter the rental market, they’ve been primed to expect a similar level of sophistication in their new apartments.
That expectation has guided multifamily property owners to ensure their properties are integrating smart home amenities, not only to increase their property’s competitiveness, but also to offer a substantial return on investment by increasing security and mitigating some of the biggest rental management challenges.
Having been steeped in technology since birth, Millennials have a much greater appreciation for the level of convenience it can provide in everyday life. Colleges and universities recognized this trend several years ago and have been showcasing the security features of their campus’ electronic access control systems as part of their efforts to recruit new students and reassure nervous parents.
It’s no surprise this tech-savvy generation is keenly aware of the role technology plays in enhancing security. In a recent Schlage survey, 61 percent of Millennials said that they would rent an apartment specifically because of its electronic access-control features. What is surprising is the level of importance it occupies compared to more traditional amenities. The same survey found nearly half (44 percent) would be willing to give up a parking space in favor of living in a “high-tech” apartment. And they’re willing to pay a premium for these conveniences as well—up to 20 percent more, which can equate to hundreds of dollars each month.
Improving Convenience for All
Equipping a facility with smart technology will not only make it more appealing to this upcoming generation of renters, it will also provide substantial ROI to property owners and managers. With high turnover rates common as Millennials enter the workforce and relocate, keyless solutions allow staff to manage access to the lock without having to be onsite. They can revoke the previous resident’s access and set up a new resident’s credentials remotely using a mobile device or computer, without ever going near the physical lock. This eliminates rekeying completely, and saves valuable time and money. Keyless locks can also be designed with open integration capabilities, making them easy to integrate with existing property management systems so only one system is needed.
Perhaps the most important benefit of installing smart locks is their ability to enhance a property’s level of security. Traditional locks can be picked and bumped, and keys can be stolen or borrowed to create replicas. In these cases, an entirely new lock and key must be installed on the door to restore safety and security. This process is both time-consuming and expensive. However, smart locks without cylinders are fully pick- and bump-proof because there’s no key—which means there are also no keys to copy or keep track of. Electronic smart credentials can quickly and easily be added or removed from the property management access control system.
People from all walks of life are turning to their smartphones for basic tasks, but Millennials are by far the most technologically active. While it’s fairly common to use a smartphone to call for a ride or track exercise, Millennials are already using them to request maintenance, pay rent and even renew a lease. It seems logical, then, that keys are steadily being replaced with the one device they rarely lose track of—their smartphone.
Once experienced, keyless locks become expected. Data shows that once a Millennial resident has experienced the convenience of a keyless lock, they prefer them over mechanical locks and tend to worry less about safety and lock-outs.
At the end of the day, electronic locks are one of the simplest ways to begin integrating more high-tech convenience into your property to attract a growing audience of millennials who have come to expect it. With more than 40 percent of students surveyed already using a keycard or fob instead of a traditional key, it’s expected the multi-family market will experience an influx of resident applicants who prefer the benefits of a keyless lock. Those properties that have upgraded their facilities with this feature will prove much more competitive in recruiting and retaining residents.
Ann Matheis is the marketing director, multi-family for Allegion. For more information, and to sign up for Allegion’s Multi-Family newsletter, visit us.allegion.com/multifamily.