MTEC Report: Sharing Underused Assets

Multifamily industry executives discussed how to take advantage of today's sharing economy by capitalizing on underused assets.

MTEC-2In today’s economy where services like Uber and Airbnb reign supreme, multifamily leaders are looking for a way to get involved in the shared services game. Whether it’s getting involved with Airbnb itself or just offering bike rentals, there are plenty of ways for owners and property managers to provide convenient and lucrative shared amenities.

At the Multifamily Technology and Entrepreneurship Conference in San Francisco, a panel of experts shared their expertise regarding how to take advantage of this growing trend.

“I see the sharing economy almost as a structural change in the world economy overall. If you think about it, we have 7 billion people on the planet, the projections for the foreseeable future show that going up, and there’s a finite amount of resources that we have,” said David Ordal, CEO of on-demand pricing tool Everbooked. “Assets are typically very capital-intensive and cost a lot. The ability to utilize already existing assets will allow society to continue to grow without placing an additional burden on the planet.”

A common theme among the panel was that experimenting with shared assets doesn’t have to cost a lot, and it can be scalable based on a property’s budget or existing amenities. “We get a lot of requests for storage, garage spaces, renting out rooftops because of the view,” added Diana Thai, founder of vacation rental startup Voyajoy. She said that even spaces like a large kitchen or living room could be utilized as an event space, and older or unique homes are prime candidates for film sets.

John Helm, venture partner at DN Capital, shared the business model of a company he encountered while in France that takes advantage of unused cars while their owners are on vacation. “If you think about it, you’re going on a trip and if you rent a car at the airport it costs you $100 for four days. So what they do is they have a short-term lot right next to the terminal. You pull up, put your keys in automated machine, and then somebody else books it and pulls your keys out of the automated machine and takes your car. They have to bring it back, since it’s all coordinated and based on your flights. So you end up not having to pay $100 for your car rental and instead you make $50 or $100 renting it,” he explained.

Partnering with local businesses is another efficient way to utilize amenities outside the property, Thai said. “We have an owner that we work with who has a restaurant downstairs, so you can order from the menu and they’ll come deliver it to you.”

As Joey Bosworth, project manager at Airbnb, said, “The only limit is your imagination.” Airbnb, the popular short-term rental service, is leading the charge when it comes to easily sharing space. “While Airbnb started out by renting a spare bedroom or a spare couch, I think it’s quickly morphing into just another short term vacation rental, but a much more efficient system,” said Helm.

It seems that the company is on a mission to become even more efficient, as it’s constantly evolving its options for owners and tenants alike. Bosworth revealed that he is working on a new project for Airbnb that will help facilitate the details between property managers and residents who want to rent out their unit part-time. “It allows property management professionals to take advantage of the sharing economy without being directly engaged. By allowing your tenant to say, rent out their room or guest room or rent out their place while they’re traveling, you actually get a cut of their profits without having to manage any short-term rentals,” he revealed.

While all offering different perspectives from their respective niches, the panelists seemed to agree that short-term rentals and asset sharing are where money is to be made in the near future. “We do a lot of data analytics on the short-term rental side, and one of the things we’ve found is that there’s frequently the ability to increase your overall rent and overall revenue, as well as your NOI by using some properties for a short-term rental,” said Ordal.

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